- Posted March 16, 2014 by
Raleigh, North Carolina
This iReport is part of an assignment:
My advice to men like me
Try, fail and repeat.
My advice to you is to be adventurous and explore.
The advice to young men of color is becoming generic; "get a good education, stay out of trouble, don't do drugs, and be a good father." While that advice is stellar in its content it fails at exciting young men of color about their futures. That generic advice has the potential to convey a cynical perception of what is "expected" of young men of color. To the minds of underexposed men of color that message conveys: "Young men of color aren't as intelligent, they stay in trouble, they consume a lot of drugs, and they aren't good fathers." What if we changed the tone of our message and we said, "Use what you've learned, explore both creatively, and spiritually, do something that contributes to both society and your overall happiness."
A good education is one tool, but not every tool. As educators and mentors we need to provide opportunities for young men of color that encourage the positive benefits of being adventurous. Young men of color need to be educated on how they can apply the skills learned in the classroom to other endeavors in life. It is our experiences outside the classroom and the challenges we take on in our everyday lives that make us more well-rounded. You do not have to choose paths that society has set for you in order to have a positive influence in your environment. You may be 6 foot 7 with no desire to play basketball, you may be poetic with no desire to be a rapper or you can be choose to not let the stereotypes and cultural norms decide what path is right for you.
You can find that path by choosing to being fearless. When your fearless, adventure doesn't scare you and when your adventurous, exploration becomes exciting. Indian-American and venture capitalist, Vinod Khosla was once quoted saying, "I've failed more than anyone I know. But that's because I've tried more things. I'm not afraid to fail, because the consequences of avoiding failure is doing nothing." The most successful people in the world didn't all take the same paths, but they all had "the adventure" in them that allowed them to explore both creatively and spiritually. In return the chances they took, the adventures they went on, and spaces they explored provided us with iPhones and iPads, schools for underprivileged girls in Africa, and the first drop of color in the White House Oval Office. You don't succeed by necessarily following the footsteps of those your aspire to, but its more about observing those footsteps and figuring out how to apply it to your own path.
The world is becoming increasingly more globalized. This globalization process will require everyone, including young men of color to have a unique, and globalized perception that will allow us to function better inter-culturally in the future. Your job right now as young man of color is to cease any and every opportunity that will provide you the chance to explore different cultures other than your own. You can start by taking opportunities to study abroad, trying a food that you're not used to eating or joining an organization that pushes some of your personal interests. This advice isn't designed to suppress your creativity or your other hobbies. I want you to continue making music, writing poetry, dancing, acting, and playing basketball, but I want you to apply yourself to other endeavors that can contribute to the advancement of our society at the same time.