My relationship with the Urban League began when its Madison, WI affiliate honored me as an Outstanding Young Person in high school.
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To work twice as hard to be equal. The late comic Dick Gregory once said, "Children don't hear what you mean, they hear what you SAY! When you tell a black child they have to be twice as smart as a white child---you are telling them they are dumb."
"When a child walks in the room, does your face light up," says author Toni Morrison." That's what they are looking for..Let your face speak what is in your heart."
If the child is old enough to ask a question, they are old enough to receive an answer. Don't shy away from discussing how babies are born, what is sex, how come a parent may not live inside the home. Tell the truth with age appropriate language.
Writer James Baldwin said, "You have to go the way your blood beats. If you don't live the only life you have you won't live some other life, you won't live any life at all." Be aware of the natural interests children have. Cultivate what they gravitate towards.
Allowing children the freedom to explore interests doesn't mean we throw structure out the door. Psychologists advise predictable routines allow children to feel safe and to develop a sense of mastering in handling their lives. Set times for bed, homework, chores and play create a foundation for success.
One of the best questions my father asked me constantly was, "What kind of man do you want to be?" That question gave me permission to dream, to consider, to envision what kind of life I wanted for myself. My father stressed the importance of doing periodic self assessment, advising me to honestly look at my strengths, challenges and opportunities for growth. A valuable life skill I still practice today.
Mitchell Gold, the co-founder of Gold+Bob Williams furniture chain, uses his voice in gay activism to turn the spotlight on America's gay teens. Gold goes on the record with me about his book, "Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America.