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Chris Rock is funny. I can do without the vulgar language, especially the “N” word, but his humor opens up some serious stuff.

Like, speaking of the “N” word, he talks in one bit about the difference between “N”’s and Black people:

He says that “N”’s want to be congratulated for things they are supposed to do. They will brag “I ain’t never been to jail,” to which Rock replies “You ain’t supposed to go to jail! So what you want, a cookie?” They boast: “I take care of my kids.” Rock’s response is informative: “You supposed to take care of your kids, you low-expectation having [person].”

Yeah, I can do without the language, but not without the insight. A lot of us have low expectations of ourselves. And we are influenced by the low expectations others have of us. Some of them come from surprising places.

Like the government. And I’m not talking about them building more jail cells because they expect that those of us who have been incarcerated are coming back. I’m not talking about building more prisons based on third grade reading scores.

I’m talking about reduced recidivism rates…high visibility, low expectations.

Many people talk today about reducing mass incarceration. Since 2010, the numbers of folks in prison have gone down. Recidivism refers to how many come back for another bid, so reducing recidivism reduces incarceration rates, since half of released prisoners get arrested again, and one third of all bids are for violations, not new crimes. So people want to see the recidivism rate reduced. They have pre-release and re-entry programs to help; they count the numbers. Recidivism is down, says the criminal justice system. We’re being successful, say the politicians..

“You low-expectation having [person].”

While not going back to jail/prison is good, it is a low expectation. The real issue is how well you are doing when you get home. How’s your attitude? Are you making progress connecting or reconnecting with your kids? Are you building healthy relationships instead of playing people? How are you doing on your career plans? Education? And who is there helping you, supporting you, encouraging you in the process of becoming productive? Those are high goals to shoot for. Staying out is not enough. It’s a minimal goal. It’s a low expectation.

The jail I was in had a poor pre-release program. I often found myself working with guys on my block on their plans beyond the walls. When I asked them about their plans, they often said, “Well the first thing is I ain’t coming back here.” Low expectation.

So we’d do an experiment. You can try it now. “Don’t think of a fire truck.”…… You know what you just did? Think of a fire truck. Try it with somebody. It works…and it proves that anything you try to avoid becomes a part of your consciousness. It rules you, holds you back.

You don’t set a goal for what you don’t want to do. That’s low expectations. The challenge is to determine what you want to do, who you want to be, and aim for it, work for it, pray for it, surround yourself with people who want it for you too and will work with you to get it. That’s a high expectation…but you are worth it.

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