My oldest daughter graduated from high school this past Friday. It was a proud moment indeed, as she also finished as her class valedictorian. This fall, she'll be attending Jackson State University on a full academic scholarship.
Boasting aside, as I watched the ceremony, I reflected on her first 18 years of life. I couldn't help but think about my time doing this parent thing. Then my thoughts turned almost immediately to the future, particularly my daughter's future and what awaits her in college and beyond.
As parents, we do our level best to raise our kids. We try to put them in the best environment possible to succeed given our individual circumstances. Once we do that, we can only pray and hope for the best. We can't control the escalating price of college. We can't control the fluctuating price of housing. We can't control the price of food and gas.
It scares me that even with a degree in bioengineering (yep, she's the first math and science wiz in an English-heavy family), my daughter may not find work that keeps her lights on.
Thoughts like that turn my mind to the presidential elections. I think about Republicans and conservatives and how they rail about how the rest of us are "jealous" of rich people and envious of those who are successful.
Then I think about Jackson and how some ill-informed naysayers seem to think that black parents don't want the finer things for their kids—that we don't care about their education. Some people seem to believe that black parents somehow "want" to raise their kids around poverty and violence, that we "enjoy" living around crime, and that we are where we are simply because we don't care or, worse yet, don't even try.
What I do know is that I have prayed since day one for all of my kids. I want them to excel like any parent—black or white. I laugh at the notion that as a parent, I don't teach my kids to work hard, to dream and to prepare themselves to be successful. I want my kids to be great, but as successful people, I want them to pay their fair share and to give back to the community. I definitely want them to understand the plight of those less fortunate than they are.
Here's my advice to my daughter the graduate: Work hard. Plan for a rainy day. Let the chips fall where they may. Try to do what you love and get paid for it. When accolades come rolling in, don't look down on someone because they haven't achieved what you have. Don't you dare call them "lazy" or say they don't care. Instead, extend a hand and show them the way.
Do that, and you will truly be rich. Not just in worldly goods but in spirit and in life.
And that's the truth ... sho-nuff.