Ahhh….the good ole days…when there was a guy to greet you at the gas station with a nice smile and a friendly, “fill ‘er up ma’am?” In about half the time it takes to get a Starbucks coffee these days, Mr. Service Man had pumped gas, washed your windshield, checked your fluid levels and your tire pressure AND sent you on your way with a warm and genuine “have a nice day.”
Full service given with a sense of pride. Even as a kid in the 70s, when self-serve stations started popping up and I became my mom’s gas station attendant, I knew that was the beginning of the end of service with a smile. Try to get help for a Yahoo issue…ever looked for a phone number, lmao….good luck finding one!! Call any utility company, by the time you get the automated hellion to understand you want to speak to a representative, your blood pressure is up and your patience is low and hell, you have waited so long that you forgot why you called. This is precisely what these companies are counting on-you to forget, you to shrug it off as, this is the way of business today. We live in a “wham bam, thank you ma’am, leave the money on the nightstand” society because we have allowed it to happen. Somewhere along the lines, we all just gave up demanding service and courtesy with what little service you do receive and blamed our lot on automation and a lack of time.
We rely on technology to pacify, entertain and educate our kids because we don’t have the time to spend with them. We depend on school systems to cram as much info in their little heads as quickly as they can to pass tests to get them in accelerated programs so parents can brag about little Johnny excelling in his AP classes. But does little Johnny have any social graces? More and more, students are entering college ill-equipped to matriculate successfully, socially, and college retention rates are plummeting as a result. By the way, just what is the curriculum that is being shoved between their ears…STEM related coursework because all of a sudden the world will ONLY function if we produce a generation of scientists, tech geeks, engineers and mathematicians who can’t communicate their theories and breakthroughs because they skipped communication courses, blew off the arts and humanities and sat through history classes with disdain and assuredness that the past is irrelevant. No, no, no, buttercup. Liberal arts fuel the imagination. These disciplines are important to help expand the mind to imagine and to develop science and tech innovations. Yet, when I talk to the fifth graders and high school kids in my life, they look at me like I have three heads when I mention a historical figure or fact. They are like deer in headlights. d’oh?!?! SMDH. Specifically, when I ask what Black History is being taught, it boils down to an annual re-play of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Really?!! This speech represents the breadth and depth of African American’s contributions to American society?!?! Ooof. History is the foundation on which the future, good or bad, is built.
It upsets me to hear so little black history is taught, for several reasons; 1) it is deemed as not important anymore, by the lack of variety of information presented; 2) African American kids and others know little to nothing about the people on whose shoulders we all stand; and 3) being unaware of one’s history, allows it to be repeated. I have personally been affected by such in the workplace. When we allow actions to “slide”, chalk it up to “it is a small thing,” don’t speak up for the action not being just; we foster in people, within a race and among races, a sense of disrespect. We lackadaisically sat back as a society and allowed corporation after corporation to become automated rather than provide decent full customer service. Now what do we have to contend with during our morning Starbucks run? A still wet behind the ears kid arguing with us about an order they got wrong because they weren’t paying attention and attitude when we refuse to take that $5 cup of piss water for coffee when we specifically asked for a Black Eye. (extra shots of espresso) Straight up rudeness and disrespect because there is no concept or clue as what real customer service is, wham bam, yo’ ma’am leave your $5 spot on the counter and we will hound you for a tip electronically for our poor service for the next three or four hours, cause hey, we still ought to be rewarded for sub-par behavior, we gave you a cup of something. So what, that it wasn’t what you expected. We have quotas, metrics to meet.
Why should a black life matter to anyone? Students learn less and less of the strength, tenacity, intelligence and integrity of race of people in school because it’s all about numbers of kids graduating, test scores, and whatever other metric that needs to be met to line some administrator’s or politician’s pockets. To hell with the quality of the education. If it isn’t going to help raise a test score, screw it. Parents don’t have time or make the time to do drive-by’s at the schoolhouse to see what is being taught or to be involved to ensure it. If it isn’t open house or report card day, how many parents are there demanding kids learn what they themselves did? It is no less important today than it was a generation or two ago. But we have not the time, it seems, to demand that it is. So here we are with a generation of people who were taught little to nothing about Black History, except the speech, because after all, King’s birthday is a national holiday, so that should at least be taught for recognizability. These uneducated (about history) students go on to become police officers. They know plenty from whatever stereotypes of African Americans permeate tv programming. They know plenty from the worse of the race who find themselves featured on the 11p news. So why would these officers think any differently about any African American walking down the street with Skittles or walking away from them or attempting to tell them they have done nothing wrong, all while being shot or beat down. The few black friends they might have, can’t tell them about their own people to illicit a different perspective because they haven’t been taught anything either and worse, they have a “I don’t give a f…” attitude because they haven’t been shown how their history is relevant( let’s start with a sense of pride). Why should someone else care about African Americans and their history, if African Americans don’t deem it to be important enough to be talked about and learned beyond a speech?
The days of full service teaching have gone the way of the gas station attendant. As evidenced by the egregious callousness in printing a minimalistic version of the heinous truth that is this country’s history, on the part of a well established scholastic book publisher. It is up to parents and the community to deem it important. How? Well…how about we make use of all this technology at our kid’s fingertips. Google it and set aside time to teach them African American history. Find museums in the area in which you live to visit. Incorporate black history relevant to things that are interest to your child, be it music, art, theatre, dance, sports, science or business, in a way that is fun, but informative. Words and images have to change in order for attitudes to change and break the cycle of history repeating itself.