Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Twelve (Letter 21)


Dear Y.B.M.:

Today, I would like to share with you some things that I wish someone had forcibly told me when I was twelve years old. Sadly, some of the things that I am going to mention in this letter, I learned at H.K.C. — Hard Knocks College. And that is not the college to go to. Indeed, it is the college from hell. I hope that you will allow me to now be that sign post of wisdom I wish I had when I was your age. If you take heed of what I am going to say here, it will save you many heartaches and troubles.

black-boy-schoolFirst of all, I wish someone had seriously taken the Bible and plainly showed me what true salvation really meant when I was younger, as I showed you in Letter Two. True salvation in my earlier life would have made a big difference in my life as it will yours. Accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour as soon as you can.

Second, I wish someone had told me about the importance of reading, studying and applying the Bible to my life. Read, study and apply the Bible to your life, and be the success that God wants you to be.

Third, I wish someone had forcibly told me to avoid having sex until after I was married. And I wish they had told me the Biblical reasons why. I know that it sounds weird and foreign, but Y.B.M., avoid having sex of any kind until after you are married.

Here is just one verse from God’s Word that gives you a reason why:

I Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”

Fourth, I wish someone had taught me about the proverbial “value of a dollar.” In other words, I wish someone had taught me how to manage money better, and how to save and invest it as well.

Money is not everything, but money is important. In fact the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 10:9, “Money answereth all things.” And the way you handle it will be one of the keys to your success. So if you don’t know how to handle your money, get with a good businessman and learn all that you can about how to make, handle, and invest money. I will write you another letter about money in the near future.

Fifth, I wish that someone had taught me how to manage my time better. I wish I had learned the value of each minute of life at an earlier age. Time is like money – we must spend it wisely. Do whatever it takes to learn how to manage the time that God gives you.

Sixth, I wish that someone had taught me to have a better work ethic. There is nothing wrong with hard work. Hard work is the road to lasting success. Learn to see work as a friend and not an enemy. Work hard and smart.

Seventh, I wish that someone had told me, in a forcible manner, that junior high school and high school were not times in which to play, but to gain knowledge. I wish someone had told me that school and learning were a privilege and not something to be despised.

Eighth, I wish someone had told me that life was not going to always be easy, and that I needed to take life more seriously because this is the only life I get.

Ninth, I wish someone had told me that just because we had integration in our schools, racism and prejudice did not end.

Tenth, I wish someone had forcibly told me not to hang around the wrong crowd — that it was not cool — but rather, to be independent and to think for myself and to do that which was right “though the stars fall.”

In my writing about what I wished someone had told me when I was younger, I have in turn told you some things that if you were to take heed of, would save you many a hard knock.

Do the right thing and “make Black America better.”

Yours For Not Going To H.K.C.,


Power Thoughts

P.T.: Booker T. Washington said, “I have learnt that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”

Confucius said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Cornel West said, “America’s massive social breakdown requires that we come together — for the sake of our lives, our children, and our sacred honor.”

George Washington Carver said, “When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.”

Maya Angelou said, “Nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone.”

The Value of Working Hard and Smart (Letter 20)

Dear Y.B.M.:

black-young-man-job-seekerI do not want to sound like I am preaching to you, but to start this important letter, I must ask you to please take note of the following verses from the Book of books:

Solomon said in Proverbs 21:25, “The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.”

Proverbs 13:4 says, “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

Proverbs 10:4 says, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”

Those old proverbs above are true, and you can see the truth of these verses all around you. Those who choose to be lazy and slothful with their lives usually end up poor and dependent upon others; while those who make up their minds to work diligently end up having the things that they need, and also many of the good things that they desire.

Based upon these truths, I want to strongly encourage you to be determined to not be a lazy person, but rather a person who will learn to love work, and one who will work consistently and diligently.

Now, how does a person become slothful and lazy in the first place?

First, a person can become lazy because it is a natural tendency of mankind to avoid work and that which is difficult or that which appears difficult. Unfortunately, it is a part of our sinful nature as human beings to be lazy.

Second, many young men today are raised to be lazy — not intentionally, I am sure, but the result is the same. Well-meaning parents who attempt to give their dear children “a better life than they had” have a tendency to not teach their children the value and importance of hard work and labor and the proverbial “value of a dollar.” These dear, well-meaning parents, have a tendency to just give the child everything he wants without that child working for anything and earning it the “old fashioned way.” Therefore, the poor child grows up to be a man with the pitiful notion in his mind that the world owes him something for free. And in real life, it doesn’t work that way.

I believe a third reason why so many young men become lazy is because of their addiction to television and this new thing called the video game. Too many of our young black men spend too much time before the television set watching others do their thing and make their money, while they do nothing. On top of that, much television watching gives young men a warped sense of what real life is about. Most of television is fiction and we cannot continue to live fiction lives in a non-fiction world. Get this: TV is not reality! TV is not reality! TV is not reality! Even “reality TV” is not reality! Please stop watching others accomplish things and accomplish something yourself.

Here are some good ways that you can break the slothfulness habit if you struggle with this universal problem.

1. Sit down and define what you are about and what it is you would like to accomplish in life. Set specific goals and pursue them.

2. Make up a time schedule and plan how you will achieve your goals. And then pursue them like a mad man.

3. Be determined with the tenacity of a Bulldog, that you will not let anyone or anything get in your way of doing what you know you ought to do.

4. Get into the habit of going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. Most people can accomplish more in a given day simply by getting up by 5:00 a.m. as opposed to 8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. Try it before you think I am nuts.

5. Work your plan! Work your plan! Work your plan! And work it daily. Never, never quit no matter what happens.

Dear brother, if you desire a college education, then you will have to work for it. If you desire to start a business, then you will have to work for it. If you desire to write a book, you will have to work. If you desire the “finer things in life,” you will have to work for them. Hard work pays great dividends. As Saint Paul said in II Thessalonians 3:10:

“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

Now, that’s serious.



Power Thoughts

P.T.: Someone once said, “When you are laboring for others let it be with the same zeal as if it were for yourself.”

Nelson Mandela said, “The secret to success is to learn to accept the impossible, to do without the indispensable, and to bear the intolerable.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets as Raphael painted pictures, sweep streets as Michelangelo carved marble, sweep streets as Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.”

Thomas A. Edison said, “Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.”

Learn About Where You Come From (Letter 19)


Dear Y.B.M.:

I trust that you are doing well today.

extended black familyThis is just a short letter to encourage you to learn more about your heritage and where you came from. This is more important than you may think. It is crucial to your self-esteem, confidence and vision for the future. You see, having knowledge of your history will help make you a wiser person today, and give you a better idea as to where to go in the future. As they say, a person who does not know where he came from does not know where he is going.

Now, this important knowledge is gained in two basic ways: One way is by word of mouth: i.e., through the words of parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great grandparents. And, of course, the second way is through reading and studying good black history books.

In my last letter, I exhorted you to speak to older black men in general. In this letter, I want to encourage you to take some time and visit your older relatives, and ask them some questions about how it was “back when.” Ask questions like, what did they go through? How did they handle racism? What were my ancestors like? Where did they live? What did they do? What kind of personalities did they have? What made them who they were? What interests, desires and dreams did they have? Dear Y.B.M., you can learn a great deal about yourself by learning about your people. You can learn from their successes as well as their failures and mistakes.

Earlier, I also mentioned the value of books in this regard. Simply put, it would help you greatly to read two or three Black American history books as well as history books on Africa and two or three general American history books. If you read, study, and absorb such books, you will be head and shoulders above the crowd as far as how to handle present situations and people, and as to how to plan for the future.

A good working knowledge of history is crucial. By taking heed of this humble advice, you will gain a perspective on life that is rare among young people today. It will give you a proper perspective on your role and place in America and the world. With this knowledge, you will be able to more successfully relate to your own people as well as to others.

George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Go back, son, so you can go forward.

Going Back,


Power Thoughts

P.T.: Randall Robinson said, “It is impossible to love ourselves without having an affection for Africa.”

Colin L. Powell said, “Our Black heritage must be a foundation stone we can build on, not a place to withdraw to.”

Langston Hughes said, “We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.”

Booker T. Washington said, “Let us hold up our heads and with firm and steady tread go manfully forward.”

Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. said, “We must give our children a sense of pride in being Black. The glory of our past and the dignity of our present must lead the way to the power of our future.”

Ossie Davis said, “I can move between different disciplines because I am essentially a storyteller, and the story I want to tell is about black people. I always want to share my great satisfaction at being a black man at this time in history.”

Talk and Listen to Every Older Man Past Fifty That You Possibly Can (Letter 18)

Dear Y.B.M.:

I realize that you may feel more comfortable with those who are of the same age as you. However, may I suggest to you that it is very important that you spend some quality time talking to and listening to every older black man past fifty that you possibly can? These men will not claim perfection, nor will they claim to have it all together. Many of them will not have the educational background that you may have. But it behooves you to be quiet and listen to them.

mentoringDear friend, because of the light that you have received in this age of knowledge and information, you may know a little about the super highways of life; but you don’t know much, if anything, about the smaller back-roads and shortcuts of life. Also, even though you may know a little about the main highways of life, you do not know what lies ahead on those highways. These older gentlemen do, because they have passed this way before. There is a lot that you think you know that you don’t know. As you grow older you will become increasingly aware of how ignorant you really are. These dear older brothers, who have passed this way before, have been down both the super highways and the small back-roads and shortcuts. And they can really help you make a grand success of this life, if you would only listen to them.

The Bible says in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

Here are some of the wonderful and positive things that older men can impart to you if you are ready to hear a “word to the wise.”

1. They can help you avoid the pitfalls along the road of life.

2. They can outline for you the priorities in life that you need to concentrate on.

3. They can advise you as to which road is best for you to take at various junctions on the road of life.

4. The real good, older men will admit their mistakes and failures, and will genuinely try to help you to avoid them.

Listen, learn and live, dear brother.

Now most of these wise older brothers will let it be known that they do not have time to waste. Nor do they like to offer their valuable advice and time to just anybody — particularly one who is a fool. (i.e., one who will not listen to and heed sound advice.) So, these wise, old men are not called wise, old men for nothing. They can see right through you. They know if you are sincere or not. They will be slow and cautious in dealing with you until they are convinced you are for real. Now here are some ways to convince them that you are sincere:

1. Do not act in any way as though you already know the answer to all of the various issues of life. (Even if you do know, don’t act as though you do.) The fact of the matter is, YOU DO NOT KNOW ALL THAT YOU THINK YOU KNOW! So, don’t be a “know it all.” Shut up! while the man is talking, and please do not say stupid things like “I already know that.” Listen. Really listen. If these men detect that you are not really listening to them, they will not tell you anything.

2. Ask intelligent questions, and wait for the answer. If he does not give you the answer, then ask again. Re-phrase the question. Do what you have to do to get the answer. Bug them, bother them, annoy them. It is that important. Sometimes you have to dig for gold, son.

3. Don’t waste their time. Be very concerned about their time. They will appreciate it. Their time is more important than yours, not only because of their age, but because their time is shorter. Usually men, fifty and above, don’t play around anymore when it comes to their time. They are very serious about their time, and you had better be too, or they will abruptly cut you off. Think your questions through. Write your questions down. Do not go in half-cocked.

4. Train yourself to spend more time around older, wise men, than young, foolish men. (There are some young, wise men too, by the way, but not many.) Young, foolish men can’t teach you anything; older, wise men can teach you a lot. If you want to become a better, wiser man, hang with the heavies.

Most of my close friends are at least ten years my senior. Their age, wisdom, advice and encouragement has been of great benefit and blessing to me. Through their wise counsel, I have avoided many pitfalls and have received some bread to pass on to my younger brothers. I hope that you will take my advice and start listening to the older, wiser brothers.

Hanging With The Heavies,


Power Thoughts

P.T.: Denzel Washington says, “A person completely wrapped up in himself makes a small package.”

Frederick Douglass says, “Truth is proper and beautiful in all times and in all places.”
Arnold H. Glasgow says, “A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.”

Les Brown says, “Align yourself with powerful people. Align yourself with people that you can learn from, people who want more out of life, people who are stretching and searching and seeking some higher ground in life.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.”

Take Full Responsibility (Letter 17)


Dear Y.B.M.:

responsibilityI am writing you today from a basement office of a church in New Haven, Connecticut. I trust that you are continuing to grow as a young man.

In this letter, I would like to kindly share with you some things about taking responsibility for yourself, and for your life. Somehow, many of us, as young black men, did not acquire a healthy attitude towards self-responsibility. Frankly, many of us are afraid of responsibility. Obviously, there are some who are not afraid of responsibility. But many of us are. And the lack of this one quality can handicap you throughout your life.

I believe that the main reason why many of us as young black men do not have a healthy attitude towards self-responsibility is because we have never been taught it, and because, we have not seen it exemplified by many older black men. Most of us have seen our black women take responsibility, but seldom have we seen our black men do so. This is a tragedy.

The quality of taking responsibility does not come naturally. It has to be taught — more by example than by anything else.

A second reason why we do not take responsibility for our lives as we should is because self-responsibility goes against human nature. Taking responsibility does not come easy. It is human nature, and much easier to be irresponsible than responsible. It is easier, but not better, to have the attitude that the world owes you something — when it does not! It is easier, but not better, to let others take care of you. It is easier, but not better, to be an employee and not the boss. (Believe it or not, being the boss is much more difficult than being the employee. Why? Because the boss is responsible for everything.) It is much easier, but not necessarily better, to stay single even if you do not have the gift of celibacy, than to get married. But staying single and having sex and having babies is irresponsible as well as destructive to so many lives including your own. It is far better to make a commitment to someone special, be responsible, get married, have children, and take care of your family. And may I say being married with children takes a mature and responsible person.

Now below are some of the dangers of not taking responsibility for ourselves and our lives:

1. You will live a sad life, constantly having to blame others for your failures and problems. But this will just make matters worse. The problem, son, is “the man in the mirror.”

2. You will live a life of constantly being a follower and not a leader, because a leader must take responsibility for himself and others.

3. You will live a pathetic life, constantly depending on other people.

You may not be a completely responsible person now, but the good news is that you can be. Here is the main way that you and I can do that:

By simply making a firm resolute DECISION to be responsible for yourself, your life and for those God places under your care. Always remember that much of life is a matter of decisions. Whatever you are, whatever you are doing, and whatever you become, will rest largely upon the decisions that you make in life. Not only is “knowledge power,” but “decision is power” as well. Decisions are powerful for good or bad. At every issue in life, and at every crossroad, take the high road of self-responsibility.

If you need more money, get a job. No excuses! Just get a job. Don’t have car insurance? The law requires that you have it. Get the insurance or stop driving. A bill is due? Either pay it or call the people and make other arrangements. No excuses! Just do it! Have you found the right lady that God wants you to marry? Don’t shirk! Don’t jive! Don’t hee-haw and mee-maw! Take responsibility and marry the girl, and then take responsibility and take care of her and the children. No excuses! Just do the right thing.

Take responsibility for all that you do, all that you say and all that you are, and never blame anyone else for your situation.

Taking Responsibility,

Daniel Whyte

Power Thoughts

P.T.: Colin L. Powell said, “Success is the result of hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.”

John Maxwell said, “Image is what people think we are; integrity is what we really are.”

Billy Graham said, “Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together. We must constantly strive to keep our integrity intact. When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”