Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Opportunities are There. It's up to YOU!

Earlier, I was having a back and forth on Facebook with a teacher from back east somewhere.  She is, of course, a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and, like most of those supporters, refuses to acknowledge the violence and anarchy that occurs. 

Here is her post, which prompted the reply that I decided to post here.

"Do you feel that because a few handful of representatives from the black community have succeeded, that means systemic racism doesn’t exist? Tell me...in all systems of our country...who is in power? Look at almost all businesses...who are the CEO’s? School districts...who are the teachers, administrators? Government...who is the vast majority in power in all three branches? If you question systemic racism...you can start there."

I DO reject the concept of systemic racism and I adamantly reject the idea that anyone in America is held down or restricted in their life's goals because of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, financial status or social class.  I call Bullshit on the idea that anyone has a difficult life because they are a "victim" of any of these things.

To continue my opinion here, I will post a slightly modified version of my reply to her:

"In this country, more than ANY other country, the opportunity to be "in power" exists for EVERYone. 

I had an inmate in a state prison say to me: "If I'd had your chances, I wouldn't be here". BS. There was a High School in his neighborhood. Military recruiters had offices near his home. There are myriad ways to go on to higher education, IF you want to WORK at it. It's what we DO with our opportunities that matters. 

Don't blame some ambiguous "system" for not taking advantage of High School courses and the many ways that people go on to higher education. If people choose to squander their chances, that's not the fault of me, you, their skin color, their gender or our country. People must take responsibility for their own actions and inaction instead of trying to be victims. Being a "victim" makes failure easy.  If someone is a victim, then, "it's not their fault". BS again.

I was born into a logging, ranch hand, farmhand family. In the eyes of the world, we had nothing. I chose to go on to Adventure and Excitement so I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a Policeman and then went on into "civilian" Law Enforcement. I met my goals and prospered. Not because I was either privileged or white but because I chose to.

My cousin, born into the same family circumstances, elected to go into computers. Back in those days, that was like a fantasy. She's now in charge of computer security in a fortune 500 company. She wasn't privileged. She went to the same tiny High School as I and had the same amount of financial resources...none. Incidentally, she's not only a woman but a gay woman and is a major success in her field. She DECIDED to not be a victim and took control of her own life.

 As a teacher, in my opinion, the way you can make real change in your students and in the world around you is to teach them this simple concept. The opportunities are there for everyone in this country, no matter the color, gender, sexual orientation, financial situation or social class. It's all out there ahead of them. Unless. Unless what is going on today takes our country away from what it has been for 244 years. The United States is the only country in the world where opportunities exist to this level...now."

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