I spoke this weekend to a group of aspiring college students in a group called "Black Achievers." The group invited me to speak because I talk regularly about the value of education, as well as confronting the structural obstacles that make it difficult for our kids to find success. But one thing I brought to the table that the students and their parents might not have expected is the need for us to confront the destructive elements of hip-hop culture, which teach our good kids that "keeping it real" is something that should be done at all costs, even when it causes them to lose their lives.
The reason I brought this issue to the forefront of the discussion was because of young women like Afrika Owes. Afrika is a 17-year old who was once headed to an Ivy League school. But rather than going to anyone's university, she will be spending most of her adult life in prison. Afrika was recently arrested for being part of a drug ring run by her boyfriend in prison. "Head shots only," he would tell her from behind bars, as he detailed how he wanted people to be executed.