By Atiba Jones
Only 59% of black males graduate public high school in this nation
And only 17% go on to earn Bachelor’s Degrees, is the reality of the situation
And even blacks with degrees, statistically earn far less than their uneducated white counterparts throughout their career’s duration
So it’s no wonder why African-Americans are far more likely to end up on probation
And consistently have the highest percentages in prison AKA the new plantation
Yes, we’ve come a long way, but I believe there’s still need for a lot more salvation
What happens to the other 41% of black males who didn’t complete high school?
What happens to the other 83% without a Bachelors to use as a tool?
Are they to just be forgotten about as if the problem is merely minuscule?
Our educational system has failed them, and no, it’s not cool
It’s time for an alternative system that goes beyond the surface
It’s time to interrupt their cycles of poverty, crime, incarceration and lack of purpose
It’s time for our youth to be exposed to agriculture, vocational trades, entrepreneurship and humanitarian service
The art of service has been used for centuries as a tool for character development and spiritual training
It instills humility, gratitude and decreases complaining
It rids one of arrogance & hypocrisy and leaves nothing but purity remaining
It focuses one on benefiting others rather than seeking that which is merely entertaining
And the beauty of agriculture is that it reconnects us with nature and our natural state
It helps us to understand where the food comes from that ends up on our plate
It helps us to experience, through our hands, what God can Create
And it allows us to feed our communities healthy foods from what we collectively cultivate
Over the past few decades, from high schools we’ve seen vocational education gradually disappear
“You have to go to college” is all that we’ve begun to hear
And perceptions of inferiority from not having a degree has become a real fear
While many tradesman earn far more than the average college graduate per year
So why is it made to seem as if the only options are either college or the street?
With the only exception being the possibility of becoming a professional athlete
Or maybe you can make it by learning how to rap some destructive lyrics to a beat
Presenting these as the only options is blatant deceit
There is absolutely nothing wrong with going to college, however, it’s not the only way to economically compete
And if you don’t have a degree, there’s no need to feel as if you’re somehow incomplete
And besides this, entrepreneurs are consistently the wealthiest people on Earth
And they create situations for children to inherit enterprises at birth
Beyond money, entrepreneurship helps one to discover their true worth
It shows you that you can build and lead
You can create jobs for those in need
But the key is to not fall into the trap of arrogance or greed
Because the objective is to save ourselves so that we can save our families and others
So that we can uplift our sisters and inspire our brothers
Provide hope and support for all the single mothers
So this is not just about some economic or material pursuit
It’s about radically changing the trajectory of the poor and destitute
Providing a new career path for the dope boy and the prostitute
Snatching up misguided youth from out of the streets and showing them that there’s a different route
And this, my brothers and sisters, has sparked the coming of SAVE Institute
Atiba Jones is the director of the SAVE Institute and former founding director of the Risala Institute. He has been a community activist in the Atlanta area for over 15 years.
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