A few years back I remember there being a flux of best selling books on entrepreneurship and how to become an effective leader. The company I was working for actually bought a few in bulk and made them available to all members of management to read and keep in rotation until we had read them all. I have recently been having conversations with colleagues who stand with an austere tone that they wasted time in college only to collect debt on degrees they have no use for. These discussions have made me reflect on whether or not entrepreneurship was provided as an opportunity during our course work.
One of my friends shared with me that she remembered sitting in the office of one of our professors and confiding in him that she was interested in taking the writing track for her MFA. She told him that ultimately she wanted to write for television in Hollywood. She said he began to laugh so unsparingly that tears fell from his eyes. After his laughing rant, he advised her she was in that program to become a teacher. There was no conversation on “how” her visions could be actualized. I think back to reading those leadership books while I was working to sustain someone elses’ dream and I remembered I had quite a few “a-ha” moments. I learned of life/business strategies I had not learned from my parents or at any level in my schooling. In undergrad and graduate school I had been given the basic tools to seek employment but I had not been given tools, or conversation, on how to be an independent artist or entrepreneur. I had no direction on how to create my own paths.
In a previous post, I spoke of my graduate professors who had settled into the educational field because their “real careers” in the film industry had not actualized. Their knowledge and passion was in independent artistry and because it was not in the curriculum they could not share this with us. Hindsight, this information would’ve been helpful to this group of African American students who were entering into the film world a few years after the emergence of Spike Lee. Having the knowledge on how to create our own opportunities would have saved years of working for someone else to make their dreams come true. Unfortunately, this is the path many people have to take. We build successful careers in working for companies and individuals and in turn learn the tools and strategy methods they use to provide a service to profit with. Later in life, if we are lucky, we have learned to flex these skills and behaviors and apply them to our artistic careers.
All of this makes sense now. I am only now realizing why communities create after school programs that promote entrepreneurship. Because our entire school hood is based on learning and being influenced on how others contributed to society and what we need to do to be in compliance to their greatness. Perhaps as an African American child I was given 28 days, Black History Month, to feel as if somewhere in my spirit their is an energy that would allow me to be a part of history one day. But what about others who had no fascination for history? The conspiracy theorist in me says this sustained curriculum was developed for the security of maintaining capitalism. Allowing the government to continue to produce reproductions and inspire people to aspire to be a part of something powerful and growing. Yes, there is a fault in schooling. Not the teachers. No! But with a curriculum not providing ALL options for one to create a financial living for one’s self.
Parents, guardians… we have work to do. We have these little entrepreneurs living in our homes being taught how to sustain someone else’s dream. There is a fault in schooling.