I've known Kareem since he was an eager, creative teenager mature beyond his years.
He was mature enough to transcribe the longest of interviews. He was mature enough to sit in as I interviewed Kanye West and not act a fool. He was mature enough to act as my (and others') intern as we worked at a Viacom-owned television network some years ago. Since overcoming a childhood in foster care, he's now a graduate of Clark Atlanta, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and has amassed a myriad of other achievements.
Yet and still, Kareem is not employed, despite hurdling over insurmountable odds and seemingly doing all the right things in life. At 23, he's strong, unrelenting, and will soon join AllHipHop as a part of an initiative spurned by the President Obama to get youth jobs, life skills, and competent mentors.
As a college graduate, Kareem could be considered one of the "lucky" fortunates. While the nation appears to be in an uptick, those around us - the people we know and touch - remain in dire straits. That is the charge of the president, as he prepares to address the nation today.
The fact is, the youth that peruse AllHipHop and similar sites are fundamentally disengaged, disillusioned, and fairly disgusted with the way the nation has treated them thus far. Many of them, like Kareem, remain optimistic, while some others have completely stopped buying into the notion that they can be helped into their own. There are others still, that never bought into it to begin with.
While at the White House recently, I saw firsthand that youth from all over the nation are like Kareem, but the general consensus in the room was these young people were exceptional. Another reoccurring theme from the mouths of these young adults was they simply needed a chance.
Right now, the president seeks another chance as well.
The time is crucial for the president, but far more crucial for the American people, whose lives and well-being hang literally in the balance. While he's achieved much, for many, the presidency is wrought with shortcomings that are felt in a way that is all to real in 2012. Will the people - the real ones - give him a chance as we approach the presidential election? Will the president be able to win back the faith and support of the American people?
Right now, we see that change has indeed occurred, but it certainly is not the change the country expected back during election time in '07/'08. Especially for our country's young people like Kareem.
The time is critical.
Please join the discussion as AllHipHop.com, national non-profit organization, The League Of Young Voters Education Fund, and Rock The Vote prepare for the 2nd Annual #BarackTalk, a State of the Union roundtable discussion and watch party. The event starts at 7:30 pm tonight (January 24) and will stream live from Washington D.C. on www.AllHipHop.com and www.BarackTalk.com.
#BarackTalk panelists include rapper Rhymefest; activist Davey D; Goldie Taylor, leading news correspondent (TheGrio.com, MSNBC); Chuck Creekmur, co-founder of AllHipHop.com; and many more.