When I first saw this picture, taken not far from the same University I’m proud to call my Alma mater, my initial reaction (like many of you who may or may not admit it) was laughter. I also thought to forward it to as many of my co-workers and friends as possible. To me it was the joke of the day. Then, all of a sudden, I had a Bill Cosby like moment and became disgusted because after years of fighting for equal rights, pay, recognition, and existence in America a scene like this is an ugly reminder that though we as a Black race have come a long way, there is still a long way to go. Recently, the Rev. Jesse Jackson (of all people) was caught making off color remarks about Presidential hopeful Barack Obama because of what he perceived as Obama “talking down to black people.” To be fair, the remarks were neither prepared nor agreed to by Rev. Jackson to be aired by Fox News, but in my opinion that’s neither here nor there. The bottom line is that he seemed intent on scolding Barack Obama for telling Black America “exactly what we need to hear.” That brings me to this ultimate point. THERE IS A LACK OF PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY REGARDING OURSELVES AND OUR CHILDREN NATIONWIDE IN OUR COMMUNITIES. How can we expect our children to be the future and to have high hopes, dreams, and aspirations if we ourselves are not willing to hold our feet to the fire to ensure that they have an opportunity! With all due fairness there is a chance that the children in this picture and many other kids that face similar economic and social challenges will go on and graduate from high school, college and make something out of themselves. The reality of the situation is that many of them will not. Another reality is that there are over 900,000 African American men in prison today. Yet another reality is that over 50% of African American homes are single parent homes, and in most of those cases the father is seldom seen or not heard from at all. This also makes me think of an HBO documentary “Hard Times at Douglass High,” which is a documentary chronicling a typical underachieving year at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, MD. It also sought to show how ineffective “No Child Left Behind” has been in elevating the education system in urban, poverty stricken areas. I could write a book about this subject because it is that important of an issue to me, but in keeping with the theme of the blog I’ll keep it short and simple. We can no longer rely on programs like Welfare, Food Stamps, and Affirmative Action to get by. We have to start (as whole communities) pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps and working (legitimately) for a better life for our kids and ourselves. We have escaped the shackles that were on our wrists, and now it is time to fight to escape the shackles that are on our minds.