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African American Youth and the Burden of Cool

Who are the coolest kids in the neighborhood, on the block and at school? Who are the kids that set the trend for clothes, flashiness and pose? Who are the kids we look to for rhyme and acoustic soul? It’s our kids! African America youth are burdened with the albatross of cool.  We know this intimately because every adult has passed through this vicious rite of passage.  Those who resisted -as some courageous black youth do today – are ostracized and ridiculed, branded as race traitors and vilified for ‘acting white’. While it is easy to point a finger at Hip Hop and rappers, that would be oversimplifying how huge this issue is and its ravaging consequences on the academic performance of our youth. Hip Hop and rap are EFFECTS not causes – they are the birth children of cool pose.  My thesis in this short essay is that cool pose is here to stay, mainly because it’s a major part of our coping with the American experience. What I’m hoping for adults to see is the urgency in understanding and managing it causes and elevating our expectations from our youth. It’s ok to be cool, but our youth must stay focused on school!

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