The Fresh Prince Syndrome: Track 2, “I Got A Story To Tell”

Hegemonic schooling practices are set up in a way that is meant to deceive and ultimately fail Black males in the long run, no pun intended. Let me start you with another story: A young Black male, somewhere between the ages of 8 to 15 is in a class somewhere in Toronto, or New York, or Los Angeles. He receives a grade back from his last test. It’s a C. So what? He is expected to get that C. His friends do not look at him any differently for getting that C on the test. In fact, he is even more so accepted by his peers for his maintenance of their s0-called status quo. What’s even worse, if he got an A, his own peers may face him with scrutiny. Sadly, he may also hear that he is “acting white” by one or two of his closest friends (ooh, a troubling moniker that we must continue to challenge and address). And truth be told, some of his teachers, do not expect him to do any better than the grade he earned. They do not really see him as the type of person who is earnestly concerned with his grades or his education. He, for whatever reasons, is viewed as being more preoccupied with his appearance, his friends, and his social standing than his grades and future. So what? He gets a C. Who cares? It seems like nobody does. It seems comfortable to all the parties concerned. No complaints, no issues; it fits the script and we all continue on living our lives. And the Black male, subconsciously, is internalizing this. So what? This is what I continue to ask because these symptoms all add to parts of the Fresh Prince Syndrome.


And, even today, despite witnessing a Black president and slowly hearing more about the successes made by Black males, not through the domain of sports, entertainment, or criminality, many Black boys that grow up in urban spaces feel as though they are somehow ‘white washed’ if they pursue academics with intentionality. The media has saturated society with these depictions of Black manhood to the point where we grow up thinking that if we aren’t skilled enough to become the next LeBron James or charismatic enough to become the next JAY-Z we might as well become “respected” enough to become the next big time dope dealer on the block. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but name ten Black men that are famous for something other than sports, entertainment, or…crime…Shoot, name five…I’ll wait. And then think about how a 14-year-old Black male is internalizing this…


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Matthew R. Morris

Educator, Speaker, Writer

Matthew R. Morris is a writer, speaker, and elementary educator in Toronto. He has an M.A. in Social Justice Education from OISE at the University of Toronto and is the author of the forthcoming book, Black Boys Like Me. 

Matthew R. Morris

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