As a teen in 1994 I remember listening to Notorious B.I.G recite:
Those words spun around my brain because in three lines he summed the perspective of how a young African American male saw his options in the United States. It was easy for myself and my peers to visualize his lyrics, because the reality was at our door steps each day. Biggie (he was Biggie at that time) understood the individuals and careers that were idolized, the people that received the most attention locally or national were criminals and athletes from our perspective.
While interviewing Andre Harrell’s new group Hamilton Park, they mentioned that their options in the streets of Atlanta were entertainment or sports. It is sad and crazy that after fifteen years, young men still believe there only options are hand to hand sales and hoop dreams. With only a few hundred sports positions in the NFL, MLB, NBA, the chance of becoming a professional athlete are beyond slim. Also, the chances of becoming a successful and/ free criminal are worse. So those two options basically mean there are no options.
No there is a third options that is not as glamorous … its “working.” It can be a job as a blue collar worker, white collar worker, lawyer, blogger, doctor, mailman or any legal career. Somehow we continue to overlook the opportunities that are placed in front of us. However, during these troubling economic times, it is not an easy task to secure a job but it is still easier than playing in Madison Garden or becoming the next Scarface.
In many cases, we miss opportunities in life because we are going after the magic ticket; as a community we cannot give the perception that there are only two paths in life. With the media, entertainers and athletes are the most influential correspondents, so we need them to use their social capital to deliver a different message that reflects the changing times and the opportunities we have as a community.
Can we as a people let our youth know that the sky is the limit and “slingin crack rock or a wicked jumpshot is not the only way.” You can succeed in life by following the path of Obama, an individual that worked as a student, community organizer, professor and senator before winning the election of the president of the United States.
—— By: Adeniyi Omisore