Dr Boyce Watkins: 5 Things every black man must think about before going to college

Published On October 5, 2016 | By Big BOSS | Black male commentary, Latest posts, Strictly for the brothers, The Barbershop

by Dr Boyce Watkins

I was a horrible student in high school, but for some reason, my college experience went pretty well:  I graduated with a nearly perfect GPA, three majors and two bachelors degrees, all in four years, while working a full-time job and paying child support for the daughter I had at the age of 18.


But things could have gone much worse had I not figured a few things out, and the journey had many bumps in the road.  Most “successful” people don’t tell you about the mistakes they made or near misses, which leads some of us to think that their lives have always been perfect.

My life was not perfect, and it was very difficult at times.  I never had enough money, struggled with self-esteem, spent over a decade in school working on the wrong doctorate, and the list goes on and on.  However, I was able to figure a few things out.

Years later, I’ve spent two decades teaching college students and speaking to thousands of them around the country.  Also, interacting with millions of brothers online and everywhere else, I’ve noticed that there are very few channels through which black men are being warned about the dangers that lie in front of them.  The fact of the matter is that, for the black man, America is the ultimate death trap:  There are a million-in-one ways for you to end up dead, in prison, on drugs, unemployed, without your kids, or marginalized from society altogether.  Oh, and let’s not forget being shot in the head by a cop.

Maybe I can share a few things that your father forgot to tell you, your mother didn’t think about and your school teachers won’t say.  You won’t hear these words in mainstream media (other than The Breakfast Club, which has invited me on a few times), and for brothers who don’t like to read (or listen), some of these lessons will be learned when it is too late.  But here’s my two cents on the things I wish someone had told me about being a black man before I left for a college campus.  If there is a young black man you love, I hope you’ll share this article with him too:

  • Study at least 4 – 6 hours per day, there is no such thing as putting in too much effort: Hard work and consistently are the cornerstones of any successful man’s life.  It makes no sense to want greatness without being willing to work for it.  The greater you want to become, the harder you must grind.  Some might think that studying six hours a day is too much, but that’s stupid.  The reason it makes no sense is because once you are done with school and get a job, you’re going to work 8 – 10 hours a day.  Why not go ahead and put in work early so you can get the benefits for the rest of your life, instead of being lazy now and having to spend the rest of your life making up for it?
  • Make sure you get to know women before sleeping with them: Let’s be clear:  You’re a black man.  Once you’re accused of rape, it’s over for you, even if the accusation isn’t true (Birth of a Nation director Nate Parker was acquitted, but some people are still calling him a rapist).  Of course you should never rape a woman, but there are also some women out here who will falsely accuse you of something you did not do.  She might be mad because you like another girl, upset that you didn’t call her, or angry at herself for getting drunk the night before and doing things that might embarrass her.  Either way, you live in a politically-charged environment where a simple allegation of wrong-doing can ruin anything you’ve worked for and stain you until you’re 80 years old.  Don’t go slinging your sex organs at any pretty girl you meet on the street.  You have to protect yourself  from predators at all times.
  • Whatever you do, learn how to start your own business: Remember earlier when I reminded you that you’re a black man?  Let’s talk about that again.  You see, a lot of people (including myself) start college under the false belief that if you go to school, work hard and do what white people do, you’re going to get the same opportunities as everyone else.  This is NOT TRUE.  I know a lot of brothers with tons of degrees on their walls who can’t get a halfway decent job.  Don’t let this happen to you.

While you’re in college, the MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN LEARN AS A BLACK MAN is how to start a business.  You should take a class on starting a business before you get to college and find like-minded friends who can go into business with you.  If you haven’t done this yet, then do it during the summer, on the weekends, after classes or whatever it takes.

Knowing how to start your own business will make the difference between you being able to get your kids what they need or having to let them down because some white man decided he didn’t want you working at his company anymore.  Also, when you’re the boss of your own company, you get to be the king and don’t have to spend your days bowing down to a bunch of racist a**holes who don’t respect you.

A real man knows how to build his own and knows how to survive by any means necessary.  Don’t become an economic punk.

  • Don’t become consumed with drugs or alcohol: Drugs and alcohol have ruined the lives of countless black men.  Malcolm X used to say, that “The White man will sell you the liquor bottle, then lock you up for being drunk.”  A lot of brothers get their masculinity cues from the ignorance we see on TV and hear on the radio, and it ruins their lives.  Don’t let yourself become a statistic.  A man who is always drunk or high can’t make sound decisions.  He makes choices that might get him sent to prison.  He’s rarely focused on anything other than the next high and his kids don’t respect him.  Much of this behavior starts in college, and goes on for the next 30 or 40 years.  Find a way to have fun and love life without finding happiness at the bottom of a bottle.  A strong black man must be alert and centered at all times.
  • Love, respect and appreciate black women: Women are going to make you mad, break your heart, let you down and disappoint you. But every time you’re tempted to say that “all black women ain’t sh*t,” just remember that there was likely a black woman who raised you and made you into the man you are today.  When  you diss the sisters, you’re also disrespecting your mother.

Take these tools with you as you navigate through this crazy thing called life.   It’s tough out here, so you have to be tougher.  It’s confusing as hell, so you have to be intelligent and strategic.  You’re going to make some mistakes and you have to be able to overcome them.  But at the end of the day, you’re built for what it takes to be successful.  After all, your people have overcome 400 years of the worst hell imaginable and we’re still in a position to eventually take over the game.

Black man, never be afraid, never embrace ignorance, and never let anyone steal your power.  It was always in the cards for you to win, but you must put yourself in a position to compete.  By being a leader instead of a follower, you can carve your own path to greatness, and if I have anything to do with it, millions of other black men are going to be right there with you.

Good luck.

Dr Boyce Watkins is a Finance PhD and founder of TheCollegeStudentGuide.com, the one-stop shop for advice and mentorship for college students who want to be successful.  He is also the author of “The 8 principles of black male empowerment.”  You can join Dr Watkins’ mentorship program for college students by visiting TheCollegeStudentGuide.com.  The first month is free. 

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