I am not an Exception

The other day, one of my good friends put a post on Facebook explaining why he is not an exception.  He made a great point and an important remark that I feel should be shared to the masses. He wrote the following:

“I am not an exception. I repeat, I am NOT an exception!

Now that I have your attention, here are a few reasons why. I am NOT an exception for:

– Pursuing higher education
– Being educated!!!
– Being able to hold a deep and insightful conversation on complex or controversial topics
– Having goals and a plan to obtain them

An exception is defined as, “a person or thing that is excluded from a general statement or does not follow a rule.” So being that none of my above examples should come as shocking for a person in their mid 20’s, I am not an exception. Pretty simple right?

Unfortunately, my melanin causes some peoples logic program to malfunction and they throw an “exception” label on me because it’s tough to comprehend. Though, I could understand it, you know, if I was the first black person to do it. Maybe even the first from “the hood” with dreadlocks and tattoos, but I’m not. All I’ll say is, if my computer program kept throwing exceptions, I’d rewrite my program. Though, even with the many instances of black excellence that occur daily, I can honestly say I’m not surprised people still believe there are just a few “exceptions.” Cause between the media and unfortunately the actions of some of our community members (yes, we have to own up to our own part in this situation), that “general statement or rule” will continue to reign.

There are thousands upon thousands more individuals like me, and more being born each day. We are determined to achieve greatness in whatever form it takes in our personal lives, and are willing to use all of resources to do so. I thought that was the “American Dream”!

So let the world know, WE are NOT exceptions.

Changed minds change lives. #geniusmentality” 

I repeatedly write and rally against stereotypes, and the placement of imaginary boxes society places upon people, but I have always allowed people to reference my achievements as an exception. I am constantly reminded that many people of my race with similar socioeconomic background never end up going to college or having the opportunities that have been presented to me.  As I am constantly fighting against the boxes society has created, I have never pushed against the reality that, I am not an exception. I am not a lone wolf. I am one of many educated African Americans. I am one of many black Americans that pursue a higher education, who land a decent job, or that can have a meaningful conversation.  In comparison about 33% of African Americans pursue higher education compared to 41% of whites.  Over 1/3 of the African American population pursues higher education, and this percent is constantly growing each year. 1/3 of a population is not an exception.  When will society wipe away the rules on what is normal for a person of a specific race? When will  a person stop being defined by their pigmentation? When will we all realize that we are not a product of our race, our past, our socioeconomic status?  These factors may help create our personality, our determination, our being, and our outlook on life, but it does not make anyone an exception. Instead it allows us to prove that pushing barriers reaps great rewards, and anyone can live the American dream.  The next time you want to give someone a pat on the back and tell them they are an exception, remind yourself how many people overcome the same obstacles.

To my dear friend who wrote this enlightening post. You are right, you are not an exception, but yet you are still exceptional. The definition of exceptional: to describe something that is unusual; not typical. You are not exceptional because of your circumstance or your accomplishments as a black man, but you are exceptional because you are enlightened beyond your years. You are exceptional because you treat people with dignity and respect. You are exceptional because you set goals that are bigger than yourself, and you never rest until you get there. You are exceptional because you are not the typical guy with dreads who made it out of the hood, but an enlighten young guy who never allows others to put his accomplishments in a box.  Your genius mentality is inspiring to so many.

-KP

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