Dear Black Guy,

In a few days I’m supposed to be starting my sophomore year at a University in Georgia. My mom has been telling all of her church home girls how proud of me she is. In support of my collegiate endeavors, a few of them have even slipped me $20 bills here and there. They give me a kiss on the cheek, hold my hands, and stare at me in the eyes as they tell me how proud they are of me. For some reason I remind all of them of their sons.

I started college last fall as a Biology major. I want to be a medical doctor, and I never got anything below a “B” in high school. Little did I know, college was not what I expected. To be straight-up honest, I flunked almost every class in my Fall and Spring classes. As a result, I’m on academic probation and cannot attend that school this semester.

This has been the longest summer of my life. I made sure to change my address to my homies crib so that my mom wouldn’t get any mail letting her know I flunked out. She’s been buying school supplies and asked me if I needed new towels, sheets, and other things that mom’s get. She never went to college. Hell, no one in my family has, and they don’t understand the pressures that I’ve been going through. I know it’s going to kill her when I tell her I’ve earned nothing but $20,000 in student loans my first year in college and that I can’t go back.

Can you please help me, I really don’t know what to do.


Hey man, guess what- your situation is much more familiar than you may think. It is not the end of the world, but it is the first step to understanding and becoming a man. Real men accept responsibility, acknowledge how they got to a certain place in life, and they execute a plan that will get them to a better place.

Take out a pen and pad, here’s what you should do:

  • Tell you mother everything. Don’t hold back. Tell her about the girls (or guys) that got you distracted. Tell her about the excessive partying and/or drinking. Tell her if you realized you weren’t as smart as you thought you were, and if you think you should go to a community college to beef up your skills before going back to the University.
  • Give every last damn one of those $20 bills back to Mae Lee, Sister Jenkins, and Mother Smith. They prayed over their social security checks all night long, and didn’t get an extra package of cold-cuts and light bread so that they could fit those $20 bills into their budget. Give every last one of them back. If you can’t afford it, you need to be doing a lot of grass cutting, errand running, light-bulb changing, and grocery bag carrying until your debt to each of them is paid off
  • Take a moment to think and breathe. You are young and have time to pivot.
  • Figure out specifically why you failed those classes and correct it (whether academic or social)
  • Do you want to go to the University? Do you want to go to a Technical College? Do you want to go to a community college and work part time? Take the time now to figure it out.
  • Write your plan down and share it with your mother so that she knows you are not sitting on your hands
  • Set benchmarks within your plan and accept when your mother holds you accountable for what you said you’d do.

P.S. – If your mama smacks you, accept it. You deserve it. Take the smacking and move up from where you are. Your mother sounds like she really loves you, and you are blessed to have a support system that believes in you. I have a gut feeling that you will bounce back from this situation much greater than you went into it with.


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