Separating roses from weeds when viewing prominent cultural leaders

What separates a rose from a weed? They are both plants that comprise separate components. By definition, a rose is a "showy flower shrub having prickly stems, variously colored, often fragrant flowers." Furthermore, a rose in the concrete can be viewed as a persistent and beautiful plant that grew in harsh conditions with few resources for growth. Although we all know a weed when we see one, a weed is defined as "an undesirable or troublesome plant, which grows on cultivated ground and prohibits the growth of desired plants."

As Senior Adviser Michelle Smith read the definitions during the Black Student Union program, "A Rose in the Concrete," she asked which prominent black figures were roses and which were weeds while others discussed the various criteria points of what constitutes an individual as one of the two. It was during this discussion that a thought came to my mind: in today’s society, for our generation, in our communities, neighborhoods and even more importantly here in Oswego, which plant do you most identify with? Are you the rose in the concrete that represents the student who came from hard academic times and now have found your way to college? How many of you have homes where breaks from school never really are "breaks" but instead a grim reminder of our academic choices? Or are you the weed? The person that is taking up a seat in your classroom, general interest meetings and organizations but never bothering to contribute anything of substance. Are you an asset or does your attitude harm those around you and bring down the self-esteem of those trying to maintain strength in the hardest of situations?

While we discussed various artists in the music industry, we focused on 50 Cent, who exhibits the skill of an entrepreneur and has incredible business acumen, but the consensus was reached that, despite the many contributions, his negativity and inability to promote unity might prevent him from being considered a rose. Similarly, Soulja Boy was denied a rose title for lack of content, musical craft and overall promotion of ignorance in his music. Almost unanimously, figures such as Will Smith who was raised in Philadelphia, exemplified what it meant to be successful and to break barriers, such as the first rap act to win a Grammy, as well as being the highest paid African-American actor. Smith represents what almost everyone in the room presumably wants: the ability to inspire a generation, a race, and better themselves while making a difference. These people in the music industry are not the only ones that should be judged on this level. We should hold ourselves to the same standards.

How often do we think that one person cannot make a huge difference? That thought remains until you take this next thought into consideration. How would you feel if you were handed a dozen roses and only 11 were actually roses, and the 12th flower was a lonely dandelion. As you looked incredulously, you were told, "Its only one weed." Likewise, maybe that is how we should think of ourselves, separating our weed-like habits from our rose qualities. If we looked at it in that sense, then maybe we could create a beautiful garden.

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