A “No-Gro” Have you ever heard that term before? I haven’t either but it may become a household name in the near future. Especially the way catchy phrases catch fire these days. Let me tell you how I stumbled across this term of endearment. CNN anchor Don Lemon, who many find controversial because of his views on personal responsibility in the African American community, recently sat down with comedian turned activist Bill Cosby. Their topic of conversation revolved around the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington by Dr. King, other leaders, and thousands of people supporting civil rights change.
In the interview, Lemon asked Mr. Cosby what did he believe is a starting place for solving problems in the black community. Mr. Cosby quickly responded “I think it has to come from the universities,” Mr. Cosby went on to talk about people he deemed “No-groes”, those quick to speak out and not accept or embrace the messages that a leader or someone like himself is trying to deliver. He believes some don’t accept their messages based upon the fact that he is successful. You can watch the video for yourself HERE Some people believe someone like Mr. Cosby, who is not currently “Living” in the their conditions, doesn’t understand or shouldn’t be able to voice his opinion on the matter. So the question is, are you a “No-Gro”? Now let me give you my thoughts on this.
The African American community is no stranger to these talks and as generation after generation grows up in poor conditions, we continue to search for answers. Myself, when I hear Mr. Cosby speak on issues of the African American community, I have to say that I agree with some of the things that he is saying. Here is an example: I stopped by a local Subway to grab a bite to eat and I couldn’t help but to notice that the two Black men that were working there were a tad bit on the unsavory side (lol at “unsavory”) By the time we had ordered our subs and reached the cash register it was obvious that they lacked education in some form or another. Now I didn’t grow up where the grass is greener. To the contrary, I grew up in poverty, homelessness, amongst drugs and alcohol, which ultimately destroyed my family. But after watching one of the workers at the Subway struggle to ring up a simple order (which by the time he figured it out the line was backed up 10 people) I had to assume that he lacked some fundamental critical thinking. And I’m not just trying to put them down, you had to be there to understand.
One of the most underserved groups in our community is an African-American male age 18 to 25. In the most critical time of their lives, a significant number of Black men raised in low-income communities lack the proper guidance, support, and leadership necessary to prepare them to be productive and successful. There is research to support this claim. This is why you see such a high percentage of young Black men in jail or involved in crime. The “Hood” culture is a lifestyle that they subscribe to because that is all they know. And they quickly lose the notion of how important education is. That is why I agree with Mr. Cosby and I also agree that there is some level of personal responsibility for the outcome of our lives.
There is a line in a song titled ‘Bible On The Dash’ from a controversial rapper named Gunplay. In the song he says,
” I asked the pastor, what’s the fastest way to heaven for a bastard with a tarnished past, give me your honest answer with all this Hannah Montana, without the Arm and Hammer, am I going to get the slammer or the casket?”
There are many young Black men who think these same thoughts. There are many young Black men who make dire mistakes when they are young that haunt them for the rest of their lives. This is their reality.
So is it safe to say that maybe we should be open to accepting and embracing what our leaders have to say? If we do not have anyone near us to help guide us then what is wrong with taking advice from Mr. Cosby? Just like our parents chastised us when we were kids, we all could use a reality check. I feel in some ways we yearn for that type of attention. Something we may have lacked when we were trying to find our way. Something that Mr. Cosby showcased every week on the Cosby Show.
At the end of the day any advice, education, or guidance to help us succeed not only as an individual but also as a community should be welcomed no matter who the vessel of delivery is. Let’s not be “No-groes” let’s be “We-grows”