Lupe Fiasco and When Keeping It Real Gets Misunderstood
At a ceremony in Chicago dubbed the Mass Black Male Graduation and Transition to Manhood Ceremony, Lupe Fiasco was just as hard-hitting, honest, and thought-provoking as he often is in his lyrics. The rapper told the young men, who were celebrating their graduation from high school, that they hadn’t really accomplished that much.
The ceremony was covered by the Chicago Sun-Times, which quoted Lupe as having said the following:
“Congratulations, you have graduated from one of the most terrible, substandard school systems in the entire world. You have just spent the last . . . 12 years receiving one of the worst educations on earth. You are at least four, five steps behind people in other countries that are younger than you.”
“Transition to manhood is the most important thing that’s going on right now. The caps and the gowns and your tassels and your honorary blah blah blahs don’t mean nothing. That’s just dress. That’s just some clothes. Meaningless clothes, too, because they have no real purpose in life. They don’t keep you warm. What do they do? They just represent to someone else that you’ve achieved something. But then when you look back at it, what have you achieved?”
Some people would argue that this is too harsh for these hopeful youngsters to have had to stomach on such a joyous day.
Let’s look at this seriously. How much is a high school education worth in this country at this point? Very, very little when it comes to employers. In fact, a bachelor’s degree doesn’t mean much (college students, that means internships and graduate/professional school). Our youths need to know that now so they can plan their trajectory through education toward bettering themselves. What should we be doing if we’re not going to tell them that inconvenient truth? Buying them Jordans rendered unaffordable by that the wages they’d be paid based on their current level of achievement?
Finally, it is important for them to be men. Honorable, responsible, respectable men. Not men who feel entitled to the world’s best without having to prove that they deserve it. The message in Lupe’s words to a generation with more technology and resources at their disposal than any before it is that your work is far from over and that the generations that have labored to afford you these opportunities want a glorious return on their investment.
That message is spot on.