Can You Appreciate the Hustle? v 1.1

We begin with a quote from a friend’s fb status update:

We need more black men employed as teachers, social workers etc. Unfortunately, these positions rarely pay high salaries and men shy away from them as women covet men with larger salaries. It initiates a vicious cycle that leaves our children and communities suffering. Can you love the youth coordinator or case manager? Their salary may be small but their impact is impressive. (repost from BWWWM) get your mids right!

At first, I struggled with whether to post this here or in my more professional blog.  I decided to post there, because it really is a professional and societal issue not just one of my random rantings.  I decided to also post a different version here, mainly because the post got way too long, but I still wanted to talk about everything.  Blame it on the Gemini.

Anyhoo, my world seems to be swirling with such conversations lately.  What is it that Black women want?  Can we get it from Black men?  (Why) Are Black men not stepping up to the plate?  Why are Black women so evil & picky?  The list of questions and gripes goes on and on. And yes, I often ask myself these questions, too.

While this blog could go in quite a few directions, to me, it all points to one thing:

What is up with our values?!

Whether you’re a woman, looking for someone to support you financially, a person who doesn’t understand the importance of teachers, or a man, just hoping to have the “right package” to snag a great lady, why is it that the people who provide some of the most basic supports in our society are least appreciated?  I know this question is age-old, but “social justice” is a huge buzz phrase right now, so I’m gonna run with it – even though I hate buzz words & phrases.

I must say, I really appreciate knowing the people I know; we have the best conversations on Earth.  Case in point, said friend’s husband responded with this:

The issue at play here is greater that just that of the economic needs of mates or mate selection, but what can be done to increase the economic imperative to have some of our best and brightest put their lives at service to their communities.

Another poster commented that she’s more interested in impact than dollars.  I agree with both of them.  I couldn’t care less how much money a man makes; what is he DOING with his life?  Correction: I do care about how much money a person makes.  The people doing the work that makes the most impact are NOT being paid accordingly.  This breaks my heart.  Why is it that we shouldn’t be able to afford to make ends meet and go on a couple of weeks’ vacation every year?  We save, guide, and encourage people’s lives, for Christ’s sake!  Fortunately, friend’s husband agrees and noted the importance of engaging ALL sectors of society to facilitate said increase in economic imperative.

Still, why can’t we appreciate the hustle?  I don’t have an answer for this; as a member of the “Hustler’s Club”, I see the payoff.  It does remind me, however, of the hubbub over the Nightline Face-Off, during which Hill Harper encouraged women to date men for their potential, rather than what they already have.  Now, when I first heard that, I blurted out, “Aww, hell naw!”  I’ve been with “potential”.  Once upon a time, Potential had a dream & was exploring his options.  Then, Potential got discouraged by hard work.  Potential is now (still) flipping burgers, planning to stay a mid-level cook so that he doesn’t have to take on any extra responsibilities.  Potential couldn’t appreciate the hustle.

Of course, we come to Hill’s favorite reference: Barack & Michelle Obama.  Now, along with Kindred: The Family Soul, Barry & Miche are my fave couple (yeah, I know them like that… in my dreams).  However, Barack didn’t have “potential”; Barack was grinding.  Hard.  Sure, he hadn’t reached Michelle’s career status – she was, after all, a few years ahead of him.  Still, he had earned a law degree from Harvard.  He was workin’ his ass off.  He was helping underresourced communities organize for justice.  AND he was writing a book.  How is that merely “potential”?  Michelle did not marry Barack for his potential; Michelle married Barack because she could appreciate his hustle.

I’ll admit: I haven’t read The Conversation yet, but be honest: how many of you have?  Not to say I have no intention of doing so, it just hasn’t happened yet (I’m in grad school; I get a late pass).  I suspect this is the case for many of the people reading this post.  I also suspect that there are a hell of a lot of people who will only argue based off of video and text snippets.  That being said, these are the people we need to address: those who have either no time or no interest in delving further into what the man wrote.  These are the same people who aren’t communicating well with each other, like Hill said.  As another poster mentioned, many people don’t take the time to really discover who another person is before writing that person off as unworthy.  Communicating is tantamount to determining whether a person is actually hustling, simply mulling over what could be, or just plain doesn’t give a damn.  Unfortunately, far too many of us refuse to make the investment.  But I already wrote about that yesterday.

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