Chicago will always and forever have a special place in my heart. The city played such an influential part in the success that I have been able to obtain throughout the years. As a child I would often times spend the summer in the city with family and as a young college adult it was the city that molded and shaped my educational and professional careers. I remember living there and the vibe and hustle of the city. It surely has prepared me for living in the Big Apple. However, this write up is less about me and more about the other young black boys in the city of Chicago and surrounding suburbs who desperately want a better life. When I think about the past year and all of the dangerous reports coming out of the city that I hold so dear I would always wonder; will it ever get better? Can it be better and more importantly should there be someone helming the charge to show young black boys the way to transform into young black men? I'm sure everyone has heard the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." Recently in my research on the American athletes in Russia for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, I came across Chicago native Shani Davis and I thought what an honest and perfect example to boys of color in the city so hampered down by violence.
Shani Davis, if you haven't heard, is a medal-winning Olympian. His sport of choice is speed skating and from what I have been able to gather, he does exceptionally well at it. While reading about him I came across articles that talked about how his mother would wake him up early so that he could run at a nearby track to build up his endurance. I'm using Shani as an example because he grew up in the same Chicago as all the other black boys currently living there, and now he's going to be highlighted on one of the biggest platforms there is, the Olympic Games. Surely little boys watching at home should be learning something from the stories that will be told about his life, the struggle, and what he did to overcome his many obstacles to be a positive and humbling reminder that not all of us have to go down the path of destruction. Let Shani be an example of how living in what some deem a violent city doesn't dictate what your future outcome will be.
I think I'm in such awe of him because while there are plenty of black males doing great things in this country, it's not always highlighted. Their stories aren't always told and there are plenty of times some young boy sitting home dreaming and hoping for a way out don't always see those images. Why is he left wondering, are those my only options? We are a country of people who immediately go straight for the negative or the bad in a situation. I believe every little black boy should have that person in his life that provides substance and stability. While on Shani's website I noticed he gives credit for his success to his mother. He talks about how she moved them from Chicago's south side to the north side so that he could succeed in skating. My message here is to take all you can from this great Olympian of color. As you watch the Winter Games kicking off this week, pay attention to his style and class. Also find the examples in your life, the positive examples, and the people who want the best for you. More importantly, like Shani you have to want the best for yourself. If you have a dream of want to pursue a goal tackle it in full force. In the case of this dynamic speed skater success comes to those who want it more than anyone else. It is not given, yet it is earned but you my young black boys of color must be willing to do the work and give it all you got. Stop looking for a handout and start doing things to build up your own endurance. If the Shani Davis', Barack Obama's, and even Kelsey Minor's of the world can succeed despite the odds so can all of the other young black boys in the city of Chicago.