Transitioning to Real Life: A Common Sense

Guide for the
African-American New College Graduate
Transitioning to Real Life, designed specifically for AfricanAmerican new college graduates, provides information on a variety
of subjects that help bridge the gap between college life and the
“real” world. Written in an easy to read bullet format, it offers a
much needed reference on a several subjects such as securing
employment, managing one’s finances, identifying a spiritual path,
selecting a mate, appreciating and valuing ethnicity, and more.
Transitioning to Real Life was born out the author’s experience
with young people and specifically her own son. Ms. Smallwood
states the following:
“Shortly after my son completed his education, I began
taking an inventory of his readiness to face the ‘real’ world.
Professionally, I had no doubt that he was prepared.
However, what concerned me most were the hidden land
mines that most young people, especially African-American
young people, have little knowledge of how to navigate.”
Ms. Smallwood searched for an adequate reference, specifically for
African Americans; and when she found none, Ms. Smallwood
jotted down her notes, placed them in a three-ring binder and
presented them to her son as a resource manual for a journey into
what she called “Real Life.”
Divided into twelve informative chapters, Transitioning to Real
Life is a must have for any young person’s library.

Appreciating Diversity and Valuing Your

The Past

Always be aware of your history as an African-American, it
will propel you forward.

Remember the contributions of your ancestors, they made a

Take a black history course, if you didn’t have an opportunity
to do so in college.

Know your family’s history.

Find the oldest living member of your family and record their

Secure family artifacts from the past such as pictures, clothing,
etc. They will be important to your children one day.

Take a trip to Dakar, Senegal. This was one of the places
where our ancestors were forcefully put on ships and sent to

Take a trip to the southeastern region of the US; specifically,
Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Visit those places where
civil rights history took place. You will never be the same.

Learn about the history of organizations such as the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP);
the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); and the
Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

While there are many African-American pioneers, read and reread the writings of W.E.B. Dubois, Langston Hughes and
Richard Wright.

When think about the Underground Railroad, openly thank
Harriett Tubman and Sojourner Truth for their courage.

Don’t forget to add to your thank you list the following: Garrett
Morgan for the traffic light; George Washington Carver for the
many uses of the peanut; Madame C. J. Walker for
revolutionizing hair products; and Rosa Parks for refusing to
give up her seat on the bus.

Find a way to constantly celebrate your heritage, but do
something special during Black History Month.

Don’t forget the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. He is never to
be forgotten.

Visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Atlanta, Georgia and
feel his presence.

Especially remember and acknowledge other pioneers of the
civil rights movement; without them you would not be where
you are today.

The Present

Be proud of your color, tight hair, and thick lips. They are
God’s special gift to you.

Acknowledge your brothers and sisters of color. Learn to lift
each other up.

Appreciate the rainbow of colors existing in your race.

Purchase and appreciate black literature. Be the first to buy the
hardcover edition.
Host a 60s party and celebrate the Motown legends.

Research the habits of black millionaires and learn how they
got there.

Learn to play a previously non-traditional sport now played by
blacks such as tennis or golf.

Drop the Ebonics and instead enjoy a game of Scrabble.

Call Big Mama and tell her you love her.

Keep current on what’s happening in the black community.

Take a subscription to Ebony and Jet.

Buy from black business owners when possible.

Visit the old neighborhood and invite a friend to your new

Enjoy ethnic food. Eat at a soul food restaurant at least once
per month.

Stay abreast of health advances that affect African-American
particularly in the area of prostrate cancer and sickle cell

Chart your course and develop a plan to take others with you.

Whatever you do, do it with all your might. In fact, do it better
than the next guy.

Remember it’s not always about race. Sometimes it’s actually
your fault.

Never forget that you are black. Those who do not look like
you may not remind you verbally, but certainly their actions
will convey it.

Look after younger members of the family. In fact, help them
get though college.

Remember that your family is your best support system. Treat
them with respect.

The Future

It’s your world too. Dream big!

Share your dreams and encourage others to dream too.

Act on your drams; keep a constant plan on the burner.

Imagine a future where there are no more racial issues and help
to create it.

Do away with your own pre-conceived stereotypes.

Go out of your way to have a diverse group of friends.

Recognize and appreciate diversity that goes beyond race,
ethnicity, and gender, but also is inclusive of differences in
sexual orientation, persons with disabilities, older people, and
persons with different religious preferences.

Reach out to those that are different than you, even when they
don’t reach out to you.

Look to advance the homestead. It may be worth a lot one day.

Plan to make a better world for those who follow you.

Always keep your eye on the future.
Believe in yourself and others will follow.

Have faith that one day you will truly be judged by the content
of your character and not the color of your skin.

Plan to run for public office.

Develop a plan to lead and not be led.

Imagine yourself as “President (your name).”

Support the advancement of black arts.

Introduce a black child to your profession. You will have
planted a seed that may grow into another professional.

Teach love and live unselfishly, while pressing toward the

Finally, remember that black people will be in heaven too.
Strive to be one of them!

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