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A Hook Up, A Hand Up

A Hook Up, A Hand Up

I saw You People, with its star-studded cast – not just Eddie Murphy – and it definitely had its moments. Sometimes funny, sometimes revealing. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s a black woman, Amira, and a Jewish man, Ezra, who have so much in common, that it just feels right. Until they get their parents involved, and it begins to reveal the things about race that are drastically different. There were two scenes in the movie that I want to talk about, and I don’t think I’m really giving anything away. The first is a scene where Amira goes to pitch a business idea to two men wearing Harvard shirts. They think she has gone to Harvard. Now here’s the thing. If she went to Harvard, she’s in. She has the gig. It doesn’t matter that she’s black. She could be purple. People from Harvard look out for their own. They lift each other up. They give each other opportunities. It’s just “The Way It’s Done”. But she didn’t go to Harvard. She went to Howard. So, she didn’t get the bid.

Fast forward. Ezra offers to hook her up. He knows people. He knows people who know people. And “It’s The Way It’s Done.” He doesn’t think anything of it. But Amira’s insulted. She wants to “earn” it. She doesn’t want a hook up. And I thought to myself, “Honey, take it. Get your foot in the door. THEN show them how good you are. But don’t turn down a hook up.”

The whole point of Affirmative Action was to make up for the fact that we didn’t have people to hook us up. And many of us hated Affirmative Action because it was its own hook-up, and we don’t get it. We don’t like hook ups. We want to earn it. And that’s bad. Very bad. When we turn down a hook up, when we question a hook up, when we say “I don’t want to owe somebody something.” we are turning down the opportunity to get our foot in the door, to show what we can do, to rise. We would rather do it the hard way, and it’s possible that we won’t succeed. Somehow, that’s more acceptable to us, and it shouldn’t be. The ends justify the means in this case.

But, let’s take it a step further. Sometimes we resent seeing incompetent white people get hooked up. We don’t accept that they will get shaken out. They will eventually get moved somewhere harmless. And when we see this, and we don’t approve of it, we fail to hook up each other. I’ve been guilty of it in my early years. I can think of two people who “didn’t meet my standards” that I didn’t hook up. I was scared that they would reflect badly on me. But that’s not how it works. A hook up is just giving someone a chance. A foot in the door. Nobody is going to get fired for a bad hook-up. That’s not the way. Maybe you have to do more convincing the next time, but that’s about it. The benefits outweigh the liabilities. We need to look out for each other.

So please. Encourage your young people to make all of the connections that they can. At college, at work, at church, on-line, anywhere. There’s no telling who might be able to help you get a foot in the door, let you prove yourself. It’s not a bad thing. It’s what America is built on, and we need to learn to play the game. And when you are in a position to hook someone up, DO IT! Turn in their resume, give a recommendation, hire their services, buy their products. If you need to, help them prep for the interview and write their resume. Tell them to build a website or get business cards. If there is something that they are doing that you don’t approve of, tell them! And tell them to stop doing it. To never do it again. Put it to them that you don’t want to help a slacker. But help them get their foot in the door. See their potential. It’s hard to get that first job. Our young people deserve our help. So, do it. Be a hook up whenever you can. It’s what America is built on. Play the game and play to win.

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