John Hope Bryant



During the many Banking on Our Future financial literacy tours I do, year in and year out in urban, inner-city public middle schools and public high-schools across the nation(whereOperation HOPE is active), I often run into young men who think they have the world all figured out. They often think that cool equates to being "thugged out," and what I call "dumbed down."

"It takes 20 years to change a culture." Quincy Jones

"In the last 20 years we have made dumb sexy. We have dumbed down, and celebrated it, and now we want to make smart sexy again…" – John Hope Bryant

These young men all seem to want to stand in a certain way, to have their hands hanging down in a certain way, and they often want to talk in a certain way too. The funny thing is, it was not always this way. When I was growing up, there were 35 kids in a classroom in inner-city Compton, Calif., and back then 30 kids wanted to learn, and five kids were acting like a knucklehead. Today, you go into the same classroom and you have 30 kids who are acting like a knucklehead, and five kids who are ashamed to admit they want to learn.

I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with these kids. They have simply been hijacked by thug culture. And with it, we seem to have an entire generation of young people who have dumbed down and celebrated it. But this I also know — these kids are not dumb! Not at all.

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