By Clint Combs
HEY! Hamilton! correspondent
Last week, just before the Hamilton City School year began, community members worked to excite kids with a combination of prayer and hip hop at the HYPE – “Holy Young People Empowered” – event in the Booker T Washington Center.
Hamilton City Police Officer Adrian Jackson, co-author of “Encounters with Police: A Black Man’s Guide to Survival,” Adrian Jackson, gave kids, three important words to remember “Obey your parents.”
Jackson cited a study in which nine out of ten inmates said disobeying their parents eventually led to their imprisonment. “Honor your Mother, honor your father,” Jackson added.
Jackson also gave kids advice on potential encounters with police: “Remember his name. Remember his badge number.”
“You need your education,” said Shaquilla Mathews, pastor for Truth and Life Community Church at 450 S. Front St.
Mathews said that getting her GED “afforded me the opportunity to go to college.”
She had some witty advice for students approaching their teens: “No man is going to give you your education. No woman is going to give you your education. You know what I ask a man? ‘What college did you go to?’”
Brandon Mathews, a second year student at Western Governors University in Indiana, told the students to “never be afraid of who you sit next to.”
“Don’t look to see what they’re doing,” he said. “Be your own individual.”
Brandon Mathews’ work experience inspired his call for education.
“I was boxed in,” he said. “I couldn’t move up. Every position above says ‘Bachelors of Science’. I don’t have that.”
The 20-year-old Dayton-based rapper Cameron Michael Coleman – also known as C.A.M. – quoted from his single “Operation”.
“God is like an operation,” he said, “like going to a dentist or doctor’s appointment. Life is like an operation.”
A crowd of about 30 people sang along: “You can fail once you can fail twice. It don’t even matter if you get it all right.”
Lack of education and incarceration are two ailments that hinder the socio-economic lifestyles of many African Americans nationwide. The median household income for African Americans in 2013 was $26,973, almost half of all household incomes in Hamilton $40,235 according to city-data.com.
A Pew Research study estimated that “the typical college graduate earns an estimated $650,000 more than the typical high school graduate over the course of a 40-year career.”
Another Pew Research study revealed the number incarcerated black men with less education grew to 30 percent in 2000 up from 10 percent over two decades.
Clint Combs is a professional writing student at Miami University Hamilton.