It begins and ends with us

Illustration by Devin Phillips

Being a first-generation anything can be rewarding yet intimidating. Many students are making headway for themselves and their families in attempts for a better now and a better future.

Breaking the cycle and making an impact for your family is very important because it will guide your family in the direction you’ve set for them as well as the family that you’ll have in the future. By breaking the cycle of misfortune and miseducation, you’re beginning a new cycle for a positive future. And you don’t necessarily have to do that by solely going to school.

For many students, being the first in their family to attend and complete college is a huge accomplishment for them. For others, it may be something different, such as challenging the generational lifestyle or being the one individual to do something different than everyone else in their family. It’s not always easy but being authentic and trying a different route are the goals, right?

Generational curses are mostly negative attributes that trickle down from one generation to the next and begin an endless cycle that so many people easily fall into.

These curses are often seen in the black community where there are higher numbers of single mothers, high school dropouts, families in poverty and violence. Small communities and neighborhoods praise young adults for small milestones that are overlooked in other communities, and these are the kinds of curses and cycles that need to be broken.

Graduating high school should be an everyday phenomenon but most black teenagers don’t make it there due to violence, criminal records, poor schooling or teen pregnancies. Those who do graduate high school barely have the opportunities to continue their education or do something bigger with their lives and the cycle continues.

Lately, there’s been an increase in black-owned businesses, black college graduates, black politicians and successful black productions. This is because there are young black individuals who seek to break their generational curses and want to see better for themselves, their families and their futures.

Breaking the generational curse isn’t always easy, either. When breaking the cycle, you must set the bar to welcome the changes you’re bringing into the cycle. Many people within your family and social circle may not always agree with you but that is where you have to help them understand the reason why you’re doing what you’re doing. If it is pushing you into a more successful realm, I doubt your support system will be unsupportive — but in that event, keep going and pushing for positive change. You’ll have bragging rights when it’s all over.

If you’re one of those people who’re challenging their generational curses, I applaud you. Working toward the betterment of your future and setting that example for others in your family to follow couldn’t be a better life accomplishment (besides becoming a millionaire overnight). We are the generation to make or break this country and it starts with making or breaking the direction we drive our families in.