“You have no license to come up and call me by my first name.”
The above quote was stated in a viral video that shows the late, great Dr. Maya Angelou correcting a young woman who referred to Dr. Angelou by her first name. The ‘internets’ were in a tizzy. A lot of the comments were apparently from people who don’t know the importance of respecting the elders.
Bruh….Y’all gots to chill! How dare you be disrespectful to the elders?! Don’t come for them!
After seeing the clip, it got me to thinking on the importance of respecting our elders. This is what I came up with:
I was raised on the foundation of it takes a village to raise a child. A lot of us were. This particular village is made up of elders. Elders are full grown adults who are older and wiser and who have come before us. Think of elders as the Illuminati. They are not to be messed with. They are quick to right wrongs. Why? Because they know where you come from. They know your peoples. They are the eyes and ears of your parents or relatives when you think you’re out of sight. You know that saying, somebody is always watching? It’s referring to the elders. Elders are smart enough to stop you from being a complete ass in the public. Elders are to be addressed in the following ways: yes/no ma’am, yes/no sir, please, and thank you. One rule, of many, is when walking into a room you show respect by speaking to them. Call it southern law if you want, but that’s just how it goes.
Let me give you a quick recap of how I was raised in The Village. My grandparents on my father’s side did not play. When I would go into my grandmother’s house she would be sitting in the den watching TV. I had to speak to her first. My grandfather would often be in the back room watching TV. Majority of the time, they’d be watching the same thing. But, within the first 10 seconds of walking in that house, I better had been making my way to that back room to speak to my grandfather. It was rude to not speak. I could remember thinking I was grown and didn’t have to sit in church. One of the women from the choir nicely pulled me back in as everybody else was leaving out. My village was stopping me from going headfirst into trouble and at the time, I didn’t even know it.
A Seat At the Table…Literally
I vividly remember being too young to sit in the room when grown folks were talking. I had to go outside to play. But, oh!…that moment when I became old enough to not be told to get out of grown folks business was a glorious one! That moment was a learning experience. Tea was definitely being served. I learned that not everything is to be shared. Some things are better left unsaid, and unseen. But mostly, you do what you have to do. Complaining won’t get you anywhere, because in reality, nobody cares. People already have enough of their own troubles. Family is family, no matter what. You don’t have to like them, but you love them, regardless. Been there, done that. The game hasn’t changed, sweetie. The players have, but the lessons are the same. I picked up lifelong gems in the most basic form. Anytime you have the opportunity to sit with an elder, please do so. You will be amazed at what you hear, how you hear it, and what you learn.
Still At Work
A couple of days ago, I was in line at airport security. I saw a man attempting to walk through the Do Not Enter section past a TSA Agent. The agent stopped the young man to tell him he couldn’t get through. There was also a police officer posted up near the area as well. As the officer came over, the young man became loud and attempted to get past the officer, too. To make it short, homeboy ended up in handcuffs while his shoes, and wallet lay on the floor next to him. There were random people in line in and around me yelling for him to “just comply!” but even after they stood him up he was still cursing and yelling. What caught my eye was an older man that was walking by and doubled back to Handcuffed Homeboy and the officer. The older gentleman was the epitome of calm and he talked to the young man. Actually, he calmed the young man down. This older man, a stranger, a citizen, a traveling elder, most importantly a village member took the time to calm down a member of a much younger generation. And all it took was a matter of minutes. I thought about homeboy all day, but most importantly the older gentleman as well. I wanted to talk to him, but I couldn’t risk losing my spot in line. I felt grateful for being able to see that The Village is still at work.
Times have changed. So much so, that we’re getting away from the familiar and moving closer to the unknown. That alone has its pros and cons. Majority of the change is carried out by the younger generation. I praise them because they’re fearless. I’m nervous for them because they lack simple social skills and manners. I’ve seen many a member of younger generations tweet things and have witnessed them in public illustrating that they haven’t been in the midst of The Village. As the late, great Dr. Angelou says, “I weep for the future.” As our elders are leaving here day after day, it’s up to us of the millennial generation to take care of the youngsters. We’re next in line. We can be the vessels that carry those gems, and lessons and pass them on to those after us. I believe the values of being raised by a village works. I haven’t seen where it doesn’t. I’ve seen it help a great aunt get custody in a courtroom. I’ve watched my younger cousins grow from boys to young men literally, and I make it my personal duty to check in with them and make sure they’re doing okay. I’m constantly giving them the same speeches I was given growing up. The torch is being passed whether we want to admit it or not, and it’s up to us to see it through. I encourage you to reach out to your village, give them their flowers now! Check up on them. Love up on them. Then accept your next mission, which is to help guide the next generation.