Recently, I went to a Beautillion hosted by the Mu Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. My little cousin was a Beaux. If you’re not familiar with a Beautillion, it is the male equivalent of a Cotillion. The young men, aka Beauxs, are Seniors in high school and spend a year participating in various enrichment activities (i.e. community service projects, etiquette, self-awareness workshops). The final ceremony involves the young men being introduced and recognized for their accomplishments to date along with performing of several choreographed dances with their escorts and Mothers. The evening brought back memories of my own experience as a debutante and my cotillion back in 1998, boy has time flown.

As I was reading through the Souvenir Journal I was shocked to see one of the young men had ITT Technical College and Bowie State University listed as his intended “colleges”. The problem I had wasn’t with Bowie State it was with ITT Tech. I tweeted “Really, ITT Tech is your first choice? #justsaying” Of course my tweet stirred some controversy. If there’s one subject I don’t hold my tongue about it’s education, or the lack therof.

One of my followers said I was being judgmental. I’m sorry but I find it odd for a young man of this caliber to have a technical school listed as his intended college.  All of the other young men had legitimate colleges and universities, from Howard to Harvard.  Several of them had been offered full academic scholarships to their schools of choice.

When I saw this young man had a technical school listed, it disappointed me.  I honestly feel as though going to a technical school should never be something a high school senior should aspire to.  I’m sorry but that’s how I feel, that’s my opinion. Say what you want but these kids need to be encouraged to expand their horizons.  If you’re fortunate to be a Beaux in a Beautillion, you clearly have more options and opportunities than most.

I compare that to going to a school and asking children what they want to do when they grow up. If a child were to say, “I want to be a janitor or work at Footlocker”, anyone and everyone would have something to say about that.  Talking about Footlocker, a former roommates in NYC told me a story about one of her students who actually said they wanted to work at Footlocker when they grew up.  She said she was shocked and saddened that this child didn’t say he wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer or even a rapper or athlete but to work at Footlocker.  Where does that mindset even come from?

I bet most of the people who think I’m being judgmental have NEVER volunteered anytime with children. Until they take time out of their schedule to mentor/tutor children or make some type of impact in the lives of young people then I don’t really care what they think.

These kids need to be held accountable for their own success and as role models it is our responsibility to let them know when we feel they need to raise their standards. Each generation has so many more opportunities, so why settle on being average. Young, black males are already at a disadvantage when it comes to education.  Why should I be accepting of a young, Black man whose choice is to settle on living at home with his Mama while going to a technical school?  People are going to judge him based on what school he went to, I’m hoping he makes the right decision so the doors will be open to him when it comes time for him to find a career, not just some job.

Several of my friends work in HR and I hear them talk about how often times they’ll disqualify an applicant solely based on them not attending a traditional college or university.  While that may not be “right”, it happens. People are going to judge but the rationale behind making the comment was to make a point. Our kids shouldn’t settle on their education.  If they have options, they should take advantage of them, that’s all I’m saying.

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