Why Don’t They Teach A Class In High School About Adulting?

I’m half way into my 34th year of life and I can honestly tell you I have never had to use biology in real life. I have never gone on a job interview where someone asked me, “So, what is an organism?” I have yet to go to a pay a bill and the person behind the counter asked, “Excuse me sir, we need your street address, social security number and for you to tell us 10 State Capitals.” Why do they teach us all this useless knowledge but don’t teach us how to adult? Below are four classes on how to adult before you hit the real world.

Lesson One- Money and Common Cents

Could you imagine if in your senior year of high school there was a class on real life budgeting? Not calculus or trigonometry but a class entitled “Money and Common Cents.”

classroom pic 2

Food all goes down the same. Wingstop taste amazing, Pappadeaux for happy hour is everything. A good steak from Brennan’s, mouthwatering. However, lesson 1, there isn’t a worse feeling than checking your bank statement and seeing you’ve spent 120.00 on food for the week knowing your cell phone bill is 117.89. Spaghetti is your friend; sandwiches are your friend, those cheap sausages that turn the water super greasy, your friend. If you know you don’t get paid for two weeks, don’t blow your money on food.

Lesson Two- Love Is Going To Break You; But It Won’t Kill You

We as a society do a horrible job of preparing our youth for how powerful love is. There was never a class in high school or college that taught us how much love would break us down. No group project on how to deal with seeing another man’s name pop on your woman’s phone at 2am. No power point on feeling like life is great and your man walking in and telling you, “I don’t love you anymore.”

There should be a test given to every high school senior. Don’t let love make you make dumb decisions. If you aren’t married, don’t co-sign for him a car because he changed a flat for you. Those things are not equal baby girl and I know you think he has a good job working at UPS overnight but I promise you a good job at 18 isn’t a good job at 24. If that woman wants to break up with you, let her go. Beating up her new man may feel good but the record that comes with it doesn’t. In a year she’ll have moved on and you’ll still be living with the consequences.

Lesson Three- Don’t Blow Off Your Grandparents and Parents

There’s a time frame after high school and before true adulthood kicks in at like 26 that we ignore our grandparents or parents. We want to travel and go out and sleep in so we say, “I’ll see grandma tomorrow.” “I’ll call my mom back tomorrow.” Those tomorrow’s add up and the next thing you know it’ll have been two months. There will be a day when they won’t be here anymore and in that moment you’ll think back to when you blew them off for a man or woman you have blocked on FB or friends that you don’t even talk to anymore. Love those that love you.

Lesson Four- Most Of Us Won’t Die Young; Prepare Yourself

Go to the dentist. You only get one set of real teeth.
Make memories and takes lots of pictures.
Don’t not pay bills to enjoy yourself. Credit is something you’ll need.
You don’t feel good, go to the doctor. You still don’t feel good, go back. You still don’t feel good, go to another doctor.
Don’t waste years of your life being unhappy.

Dear Little Black Boy and Girl; You’re Perfect Just the Way You Are

o-BLACK-CHILDREN-facebook Dear Little Black Boy and Girl; You’re Perfect Just the Way You Are
I read this week about a prominent teacher in Chicago telling little black boys they had a greater chance at success in life if they conformed. Cut their hair, have names that are more pronounceable, be more humble. If you do these things you’ll get people to like you more; give you more opportunities. You know what I’ve learned, stop asking people for opportunities and start taking them.

I grew up going to the largest African American school district in the country. North Forest ISD located on the Northeast side of Houston, TX. All my teachers were black, the parents, the students, the coaches. Demez felt like a normal name. It wasn’t until I started applying for colleges that I realized it wasn’t so normal. It wasn’t until my first summer interning for an engineering company and everyone wanted to call me D that I started to notice, “maybe my name is different.”

There isn’t one meeting I walk into or one email I send where someone doesn’t ask how to pronounce my name. Even though we live in a global society where Africans, Asians, Hispanics all have names that aren’t “traditional American.” Though yet and still my name is “unique.”

I learned early on something that has stayed with me every day since. People will look for reasons not to like you, not to give you the job, not to want to be impressed by you. I don’t care if you cut your dreads or change Demez White to D. White. I don’t care if you come to work on time every day and never make a mistake. You can’t conform or blend in enough. The only way they respect you is to be impressive. Is for you to wear your confidence, to know what you’re doing. To be professional and to not back down from ignorance but to face it head on.

The first time I sent my novel to a publisher they told me it was really good. In the next paragraph they told me that if I changed writing name to D. White or David White I could get more of a readership. At that moment I thought, “I’m going to have a son one day and I want to take his little hand and take him to Barnes and Noble or sit him on my lap while we’re online. I want to show him the books his father wrote and I don’t want to have to explain to him why my name isn’t on those books.” Our little black boys and girls are different from how we were but different styles, different lingo, it shouldn’t take away from how amazing they are. If only we nurture them and stop trying to teach them to fall in line.

You can be whoever you want to be. No matter your size, height, color, hair style or financial upbringing. You can get into the college you want to get into no matter your name, no matter your hairstyle, you just have to want to work for it. There are going to be people that look like you and people that look like complete strangers that will tell you otherwise. Don’t listen to them. Let your creativity flourish and let it mold you to be everything I believe you can be.

I thought I was a bright child. I never got in trouble, made great grades. When I was in the 9th grade I remember staying up late watching a Chris Rock stand up special. I’ll never forget what he said in a joke, “If you have a name where people have to double take to ask you how to pronounce it, you’re ghetto. If you call your grandma mama, you’re ghetto. If you can’t call your daddy on the phone because you don’t know his number, you’re ghetto.” I remembered laughing and then I remembered I fell into all three of those categories. I didn’t feel ghetto, I didn’t feel like I didn’t belong but in that moment I felt sad that I didn’t have a regular name. That I didn’t go on summer vacations with my mom and dad.

My name is Demez, I’m the product of an 18 year old mother, no father. I was raised by my grandparents and went to one of the worst high schools in the State of Texas. I failed out of college my first year and almost failed out of Community College. I allowed people to call me D when I first started working because I thought Demez was ghetto. I didn’t have a bank account until I was 21 and my credit was in ruins by the time I was 24. I didn’t remotely get my life together or start being proud of where I came from or who I am until I was almost 30. I tell you this because if I can’t make the mistakes I made and come from where I came from at this age. Then I know you can at 15, 16, 18. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that your name or hairstyle or origins make you less than. Don’t ever believe that you’ve messed up so much, that you can’t come back from that. I promise you; you can.

Demez White

Why I Regret Stepping Foot On A College Campus

A College Campus

A College Campus

I remember my senior year before I went to college. The sort of advice I received was be sure to use condoms, don’t do drugs, don’t party and study so you can make good grades and make your family proud. What no one told me, what I wish I would have known before I stepped one foot on that beautiful country campus is that it wasn’t drugs, women or study habits that would haunt me long after those college years; it was finances.

My first week on that college campus there was a table set up. Two attractive, cool college kids asking me if I wanted a free t-shirt and twenty five dollars. “Hey man, you’re away from home; you need a credit card for expenses. Gas money, maybe a date, a book you need right away.” Eighteen years old, not even a bank account in my name I signed up for the credit card and ten minutes later I was approved. That same week when I sat across from a counselor in the financial aid office she laid out several options for me. “This is what the University is offering you, A Pell Grant, your partial scholarship, four loan options.” All I saw was green, more money in my hand than I’d ever seen, a couple thousand more than I needed. I signed that promissory note not realizing I was signing my future earnings away.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame the University I attended for my bad decisions. I don’t blame the Federal Government or the Student Loan Lenders. Without those programs a lot of kids and adults would never even have a chance at college. I blame myself for not being better informed and though I can’t go back I can learn from my mistakes. My sisters, cousins, my future children will never be able to say, “I didn’t know.” I will be there with them letting them know, apply for scholarships, work a part time job, pay your student loan interest while you’re in school, maintain academic progress. Things I wasn’t told until it was too late.

I don’t regret going to college, I regret going to college when I did because I simply wasn’t prepared mentally. It’s what you’re supposed to do right? You don’t want to be the guy still staying at home working a job while all your friends are off at college. You don’t want to go to the military just as 9/11 happened and be deployed six months later. So I went to college and though the academics weren’t as hard as I thought the maturity level just wasn’t there.

Everyone in my office is excited about W2’s because who doesn’t love an influx of money? I on the other hand will be experiencing my third straight year of the Federal Government withholding my income taxes. All because I didn’t do what I was supposed to do when I was younger. A part of me is almost grateful that I am going through this because it’s forced me to budget more. It’s made me accountable. This hasn’t been easy but it’s been necessary. Though I wish I would have learned these lessons in my youth I still have a lot of life to live if God says the same and for that I’m thankful. Talk to your children about not just the parties, drugs, women or men. Talk to them about money and respecting it or it will come back to haunt them.

6 Things I Love About the Women in My Generation

Demez F. White

Demez F. White

6 Things I Love About the Women in My Generation
Often I read about what the women in my generation aren’t. They aren’t like our mothers or grandmothers, they don’t cook, want to go out every other night. Would rather work towards being a CEO than a wife. You talk to one guy and it’s, “All women want to shake their ass, all women want to be like men.” You talk to another guy, “Women don’t care about marriage or love, they just want a guy with money or they want to lead the household.”

All of this has a little truth to it but there are way more good apples out here than bad. Women in our generation simply have more options. We love to romanticize the way things were in the 60’s-80’s but what we don’t talk about is most of those women stayed in abusive, unhappy marriages and relationships because they had no choice. Our women have choices so they take advantage of them. I can respect that.

These are ten things I love about the women in my generation.

Six- Education- I love an educated women. I’m not going to be politically correct on this. I’m talking a woman that reads and has good study habits. A woman that takes pride in the grades she got and how hard she worked. The women in my generation have taken higher education to another level. Especially black women who are graduating college and going to grad schools at some of the highest rates this country has ever seen. That’s cool and sexy as hell!

Five- Aggressiveness- Twenty years ago, it was considered taboo for a woman to ask a man out on a date. To call first or often, to offer to pay for drinks or buy dinner; that isn’t the case anymore. I still think it’s up to us as men to set the standard and be the aggressor but it’s okay for a woman to make it happen every now and again.

Four- Sex Appeal- I can be hard on women that show too much, that tell too much. The world doesn’t need to see you in your panties or a dress that barely covers your ass cheeks but women today have a sense of sex appeal that women back then just didn’t have. Some take it to the extreme, others wear it just right.

Three- Ambition- I have no problem with a woman that wants to be a mother and wife and make that her career. That’s not easy. What women in my generation have that women in other times didn’t is the ability to take over the world! They own businesses, walk into companies in leadership positions. There’s no intimidation or fear when it comes to, “I know I can do this job!” I love that and women are only going to get more empowered as society grows.

Two- Family- In every family there’s one person that’s the go-to person. Someone everyone comes to when they need to talk or need money. It used to be the older brother or successful uncle. More and more often that person is becoming the single, successful woman in the family. She’s the one that has to look out for her nieces and nephews and brother. It’s not an easy thing to do, to take on that responsibility and still try and find your happiness. That’s so cool to me.

One- Diversity- You can’t put the women of my generation, of our generation in a box. A woman can be at a Drake or Jay Z concert on a Friday night taking shots and selfies and on Saturday morning be volunteering at Red Cross. She can talk to you about pop culture on a date and on that same date talk to you about how to better manage your 401k. In every civilization women have always been second class citizens. That’s not the case anymore, especially today, especially with the women that I know, that I respect. Most of them make more money than me, have the same wit and charm and humor as me. Not to mention they love scotch and a good cigar just as much.

For all the foolishness that we put on each other. For all the bad mouthing and self loathing we live in a generation of women that are tailor made that help us build Kingdoms. If we stop fighting with each other and mocking each other and looking for the worst in every person we meet, we can see it.

Demez F. Whtie