During a conversation with my teenage daughter about her choice of entertainment, we talked about the educational value of shows like “Bad Girls Club.” After her unsuccessful attempt to justify the inappropriate behavior as simply entertainment, that show has been banned in my household until . . . forever.
We ended the conversation by talking about 18-year-old Floridian Gabriel Turnquest, who is the youngest person in the world to pass the United Kingdom bar exam. Now that’s a “Bad Girl” for you. We then talked about why such an interesting and inspiring story was nowhere to be found on any of the national television networks or cable networks.
However, we had no trouble at all finding shows like “Love & Hip Hop,” “Mob Wives” or “16 and Pregnant” at any time of day.
I also had a conversation with a young group of hip-hop enthusiasts. Our conversation was about modern slang, or as the popular local rap artist E-40 would say, the “slanguage.” It is not hard to recognize that along with appropriate etiquette, speaking proper English has also seemed to have faded fast.
My message to these young folks was that it would be in their best interest to maintain a good hold of the wonderful tool of the English language, despite how the powerful modern culture has tortured it.
There are far too many youths who are adamant about maintaining certain pop cultural trends. I counter with, “be careful who you are following, because you might be misled.”
I was deeply disappointed, yet not surprised, that today’s young people are too naive to realize that these cultural trends have a significant contribution to the detriment of youth culture. It can be very disheartening. Youth workers, parents and teachers have a huge uphill climb to re-educated youth and improve the quality of life for today’s youth generation.
At a brief presentation with a healthy group of male youths last week, we had a conversation about communication skills. By focusing on professional communication, we can elevate and expand young people’s vocabularies.
Some people support the modern pop culture language as a form of independence and self-expression. I maintain that outside of the entertainment industry and the hip-hop environment, it is yet another form of glamorizing ignorance that continues to haunt many of our youths. Poor communication skills also contribute to yet another possible employment barrier for young job-seekers.
I respect some elements of the modern youth culture, yet I refuse to support the aspects that could be detrimental to their development. I appreciate being chastised by my mother when I used “ain’t” instead of “isn’t.”
Due to the influence of modern pop culture, many of our young people are being given a pass to speak broken English in any environment. So my dialogue with this group of youngsters was challenging as I tried to encourage them to arm themselves with an expanded vocabulary in the spirit of diversity. In other words, be able to communicate with anyone in any environment from the hood to the boardroom and either on the court or in court.
We have become a society that not only glamorizes inappropriate behavior, but now we have high-profile role models who promote the fact that you can also become rich and famous for doing so. Parenting has never been more of a challenge than it is today. We need to continue to promote more life-skills education among the younger generation that go beyond the traditional classroom.
Deon D. Price is a youth life skills coach and writer who lives in Fairfield. He can be reached at [email protected] or follow www.twitter.com/youthgeneration.