Bad Grades Make You Stand Out, In More Ways than One
Kudos to the parents of Trenton O’Neal who made their son stand on the corner of his town advertising his grades.
What the heck are “E” grades? You can get an “E” in a class? What does that stand for? I’ve had “E”nough of you dumb ass so I’m not even going to look at your worksheets anymore?
And yeah, I read the people who disparaged this tactic and I want everyone to know those who don’t like it are punks. These are probably the same people that don’t want this kid to stand on the corner getting his little slacker behind embarrassed but they wouldn’t cry to see him carted off to jail when he is standing on the corner with his other friends causing a public disturbance or selling drugs.
Every morning I come to work to be surrounded by 20-somethings playing on the computer. When the weather is good they are out there on the corners hanging out but now that the weather is bad they are indoors watching videos, playing on Urban Chat. Most of them are male and they all of them are black. We also get the occasional jazz june skippers who are also black male. They can get caught in the occasional truancy sweep but come back again in the afternoon, laughing about it, shrugging it off. One kid who got snatched in the sweep once was disappointed that I didn’t give him the heads up. He was asking me that morning about getting a job there and would I give him a recommendation.
“Hell no,” I said. “You can’t even go to school, why would I think you’d come to work?”
He was taken out in cuffs with the other skippers to go to the juvenile hall 3 miles away. When he came back he asked me why didn’t I tell him there was going to be a sweep? I said I didn’t know and then gave him a tour of the building. We went to the side of the building that had the most computers. There hung the real burn outs of life. That crowd is partially mixed but still mostly men who are also mostly black. They are 30 and up. They hang down there all day. A few are mentally ill and you can almost always spot them, a lot more have just decided that this was the life for them and 40 year old men are walking around still thinking they are 20-something.
“Get a good look at them,” I told the kid. “This is what they do all day. This is where they’re at. You might as well get to know them because in a few years you will be on this side of the building because you will be too old for mine. You wanna make a friend?” I was about to walk over to one of the guys when the kid stopped me.
“Naw, Miz Nay. I don’t wanna.”
“Well, this is where you’re headed,” I told him. We spoke of his options and what he could possibly do. He said I wasn’t the first one to talk to him about it; other people have been on him, too.
“It’s because we see something in you. We don’t want to lose you.”
Is standing on the corner to the point of embarrassment the remedy for every child? No. But truth be told, the kids hanging on the corners aren’t wearing signs but they advertise the same message anyway.