Twice as Good to be Just as Good
By: Archie Wortham

“When God finds you ready, no attention is paid to what you were. God accepts you for who you are…awaiting only the chance to convince you of His love,” does that sound like a parent? Or as George Orwell reminds us, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

Are we telling each other the truth? Having been in the military, a husband and a father, I’ve come to realize that sometimes the truth changes. If you don’t understand that as real, then you’ll soon discover how wrong you are. Wanna bet?

What about: ‘Marriage is forever;’ or ‘You have kids to help you in your old age?’ Has the truth changed about that? What about the statement? ‘Once they leave, they’re gone.’ Evidence shows more and more kids are moving back home, and parents’ attitudes toward ‘allowing’ kids move back in has changed. I never thought I would see gas prices this high or have to ‘ever’ buy water. I think what Meister Eckhart wanted to make people remember was when you are ready to make a difference, no one, least of all God, thinks about your past…only what’s ahead. That’s what many of the students who are looking to finally graduate…high school or college, it’s what’s ahead that’s important. And among all this, things like Facebook can make a difference in how you move forward. It’s true, and even something as remote as the type of message on your cell phone could mean the difference between working and accepting unemployment.

The game is the same, hard work will still get you by. But you might have to find a new definition of ‘by.’ It may not be two cars in every garage. It may not be getting to go to a university as opposed to a community college. It may not be four years to complete your degree, but God don’t let six years become the norm, the rule. We have the power to change things, but we must remember, the change starts with us.

A couple of weeks ago St. Philip’s College co-sponsored a ‘Man of Color” conference on their campus. People came out of the woodwork, like ants at a picnic, but still there were many in the community who were not there. Their picnic is paid for by welfare cards and entitlements from the government. Since when do we let the government dictate who we are and where we live? We do that when we pass up on an opportunity to give back to our community as the EMBODI [Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence] conference, the brain child of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority did. They gave back, but if you weren’t there…you didn’t reap the benefits.

Maybe you didn’t know. You didn’t know that we can be like those people we don’t see. You want to have more black male teachers in school, become one. You want to get off of welfare, get a job. Can’t get a job, get an education. Can’t get an education cause you can’t afford it, then apply for a scholarship, a loan a grant. Ask someone, but first of all show up. There were people there to discuss these issues.

I always am touched when someone takes it upon themselves to tell me I’ve helped them. I try to give back what was given to me. There was this one student who thanks to Dr. Debbie Hamilton, he was able to go to the conference as a late registrant who thanked me for him showing up. Do you see anything wrong there? He thanked me for something he did. I’ve found it best to share people by sharing their words. This is what he wrote:

Dear Dr. Wortham
I want to thank you for that wonderful opportunity you gave me to attend that seminar. I had a great time and really learned a lot. The classes I attended on Saturday were quite interesting. I met some very interesting people, and I have no one to thank but you. Again I thank you for your interest in my life and your involvement with its upcoming success. -Elijah

So I wrote him back: Elijah, the first person you should be thanking about the people you met is yourself. Many are called, but few are chose to come and in today's competitive arena, you must first show up to get the rewards it brings.

Mr. Iniekpo is planning on going to Texas State University. He was in my dual-credit speech class. He wants to make a difference, and he was one of only two young men there, under the age of 25, at the conference on Friday. He’s a gold mine, and so are many of the young men who were at that conference on Saturday. The truth so many were not makes me sad also.

I feel sad for my sons. No matter what people say, culture drives everything. Nevertheless, many refuse to acknowledge that. Whether it’s the fact, many white women teachers admit to being afraid in classes heavily populated by African-American or Hispanic boys; or that many of our young boys know that no matter how they dress, where they live, or how they speak, they will rarely be judged by the “content of their character.” And as a man, no matter how hard I strive to give my family what the Jones’ have, I know if the Jones’ are a shade lighter than I am I still have to compete twice as hard to be just as good.

It’s a fact! Have we, those of us who are black, forgotten this? That’s a truth, even if we have a person of color as president, but many of us have forgotten what it took to get there, and many of us didn’t even vote for Obama because we refuse to help him get there because he’s not white, therefore only half as good.

The truths people once understood have not changed, they just got reformatted and right now many of us need to be rebooted to understand education is still the way to change. Education equalizes things. Men, accept this as truth again, if we want our boys to become men, and that truth should revolutionize a lot of current thinking for future fathers. I think God has found many of you already ready. Step UP!