Some of these methods have worked wellin the past. However, I think the best and most effective weapon today forfighting racism is excellence. Excellence will bring down more racial barriersthan all the marching and shouting in the world. To develop the weapon of excellence, we must take advantage of all theeducational opportunities that are available to us. Even though the doors ofopportunity are not always opened equally to everyone, there are still ways tobe what you want to be, go where you want to go, and have what you want to have.
And it does not matter where you live, how poor you are. You still have theability to succeed. As long as you have your health and can think, success ispossible. Accepting the fact that the doors of opportunity are not opened equally toeveryone, one thing that is equal for everyone is time. There is the samenumber of hours in the day for all of us. How you use these hours is your choice.
You can use them on the playground or you can use them to play the books. Playing on the playground might give you some hours of immediate enjoyment, butplaying the books will give you long-term gratification. African Americans and other minorities can no longer use the excuses of beingpoor or living in a bad neighborhood or small town to keep us from achievingexcellence through education. In some cases, the poorer you are the moreeducational opportunities that are available to you. Poverty should not be anexcuse for not working up to your potential.
No matter how poor you think youare, there is always someone who is poorer. Please do not be embarrassed by or ashamed of the size your home town. Manyindividuals from small towns have become very successful and risen to the top oftheir professions. If President Clinton can change his address from Hope,Arkansas to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.
C. , then you know it ispossible to fulfill your aspirations, whatever they might be. PresidentClinton’s rise to the top of his profession suggests to me that whether you area big time runner from New York City, or a guy who runs around the block in FallCity, Washington, the formula for success in life is still the same. Thatformula is hard work, dedication, determination, and a small amount ofrecreation. Like any good recipe, some ingredients are more important thanothers.
If you are making a cake, you use a lot more sugar than salt. And if youwant to have a life of cake, hard work should be your sugar and recreation yoursalt. For those African Americans and other minorities who are attending mainly whiteschools, you should use the scientific approach to problem solving. Whenscientists and engineers solve problems, they always state what is given andwhat is assumed. It can be given that a particular professor or teacher isracist, or you can assume that he or she is a racist.
Either way, you must finda solution to the problem. I am not advocating in the classroom, but you shouldchoose the right weapon for the right occasion. In this case, making an “A” inthe course is the best weapon. If you think racism is bad now, just imagine how things were 30 years ago. Everytime I hear someone mention how bad racism is today, I am reminded of a movie Ionce saw, when a young black teenage boy and his grandfather were going to townone morning in a small southern town.
As the boy and his grandfather drovethrough a stoplight, a policeman saw them run the light and pulled them over. The policeman walked up to the car and asked: “Boy, why did you run that redlight?” The grandfather’s reply was, “Captain, I saw the white folks going onthe green light so I thought the red light was for us. ” At least we haveprogressed to the point that we can now go on the yellow light. Let me restate, you should not let racism or any other kind of “isms” keep youfrom being successful. Often you will hear some minority students at mainlywhite schools make the statement, “If this place were not so racist I would dobetter in school. ” Our nation is way off of being successful, because all racismwill never be removed from our schools or society.
The likelihood of thishappening is about the same as finding elephants roosting in trees. You shouldremember that when you are educating the field to success, you will hit a fewrocks. Some of the rocks will be black, some will be white, and others will beall colors in between. Regardless of whether the rocks are black or white, ifyou want to cut a good harvest, you had better keep plowing.
It is the seed youscatter that decides what your harvest is going to look like. You cannot plantcorn and expect to harvest tomatoes. Let’s face it everyone, many of you have not worked up to your full potential. If the police were to arrest some of you today based on the effort you put intoyour school work, they would have to release you due to a lack of evidence.
Academically, if you are going in the wrong direction, for whatever reasons, Iwant you to know that it is not illegal to make a U-turn. As you view yourhorizon, in your vision lie the problems of today and the successes of tomorrow.What do you see?