Yesterday I stepped onto the Fairfield University campus with a group of teens from my day job. We were picked up from the Metro North station by a short, blonde-haired admissions representative with the nose of Owen Wilson and the disposition of a nervous prepster. I couldn’t blame him. Here we were with a group of Black and Latino kids from Harlem who perpetuated each and every minority stereotype.
And so my disheartening experience began…
First, there were the sagging pants. Each and every one of the male teens of my organization revealed their boxers. One didn’t even bother to dress in jeans, donning sweats that he slept in the night before.
Next was the alarming and boisterous tone in which they spoke. Even when standing right next to each other, they hollered. While screaming, they also snapped their necks, sucked their teeth, and used the vocabulary de la calle, including phrases like:
“I be mad hot when I wake up!”
“That’s fire, son!”
And then there was the overall lack of interest and respect. One of my teens fell asleep during the college information session. She was the same teen who poked her ass to seduce the male student body of Fairfield University. She made it no secret. When a college boy passed, her eyes surveyed his body while she cooed in a high-pitched Nuyorican accent, as if she were the real live Lola AKA Luscious, “Ooh! I’m gonna show these college boys a lil sumin’. Mad cuties…dead ass!” She even mentioned how she couldn’t wait to be a college student so she could room with girls…”if you know what I’m sayin’.”
So yes, the admission representative felt uncomfortable during the information session. Our tour guide was also ready to be rid of us. The brown-haired, freckled-faced Junior was non too thrilled to reprimand the adolescents, shushing them multiple times when they entered the library and calling their attention when they hollered inside the campus center, cafeteria, dorm room…must I go on?
We, as the adult staff and “mentors” of these teens, were also fed up. Throughout the tour, we eyed one another, shaking our heads in disappointment as they not only perpetuated stereotypes but also embarrassed us as the Black and Latino college educated professionals that we are. But what can we do? They need to make their own decisions. They have to choose to comport themselves in a respectable manner because they want to, not because we pull them to the side and tell them to. They need to turn the hood off in certain situations, like most professionals who were raised in the concrete jungle do. I communicate differently with my peers than I do when interviewing at a company or when exploring opportunities for my future. It is the way of the world.
And what a world it may be. I feel like a vulgar abuelita stating this, but if they are the future we are fucked! The teens of my program can hardly spell. They are hard and driven by violence and sex. It truly is saddening, which is why, as flexible as this job may be, I often want out. Working with kids who don’t take advantage of the provided resources and who remain stuck no matter what positive experiences we expose them to is…draining. Today, while at Fairfield University, I realized how different I was as a teen. How tough it is to relate to these teens. How this job is short-term because I will host my own television program. I am Born to Shine! And I’m not saying they may not have the same gifts but I do know where I am meant to be.
In front of cameras, sharing my personality and natural talents, not at a college tour at Fairfield University with a group of teens who perpetuate a stereotype. Click here to vote for Sujeiry so she can win her own TV hosting gig!