Author: Matthew R. Drayton

ISBN: 9780578119250

Looking for Discipline

After Matthew Drayton graduated high school, he heard a voice telling him that something more existed in life beyond the busboy, waiter scene in a restaurant. That voice spurred him to change his life. Drayton grew past being the nervous boy afraid of MCing a prom to become a corporate speaker and consultant.

Drayton’s nonfiction book, Succeeding While Black, asks the reader to define success. If that reader wants to follow a set path Drayton used, the reader can follow a series of steps that focuses on a type of discipline. 

The formula worked for Drayton. He leaped past the social pressures of the hood to become a dependable supply person with the army. He rose to become recognized so that a path opened for him when his army tour ended.

Drayton’s blueprint started with the vivid memory of his mother and father, which led him to cherish discipline. His idea of a pathway to success relied on a discipline that demanded a series of personal commitments to build up personal commitment, character, integrity, attitude and appearance. For example, a sense of character that allows the person to turn away from a bribe when entrusted with a valuable job. Or the respect for appearance that shows others a strength that could lead to leadership. Those elements, according Drayton, help firm up the discipline so the person can succeed. 

However, Drayton uses the term blueprint to describe his pathway. That idea assumes a detailed formula to show readers how to adapt his steps into personal approaches, which is a part of the book that isn’t fully illuminated.

Where did that warning voice come from that Drayton heard? When Drayton fumbled with how to proceed in life during high school after a series of excuses for drinking and using drugs, he made the step to join the army to foster a sense of discipline. 

Yet Drayton already had a sense of discipline. He worried about the teachings from his family and did not want to disappoint them. Fear led him away from a path that would land him in prison. The beginnings of a discipline lay at the cornerstone of Drayton’s change.

Drayton’s book would need some way to explain how his path fits into a universal guide that others could use. Not everyone has the initial strength and starting point of a discipline shown by Drayton.

Perhaps a greater issue centers on responsibility. Drayton’s series of steps makes the reaching of success appear because of a personal ability. The fact that some people stand out despite system-wide obstacles does not mean that the responsibility lies only with the person. 

While Drayton acknowledges the social and economic pressures baring the way for many minorities, he fails to show how the system-wide obstacles hem many people away from his formula.

The effects of a system on people can be exemplified through Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Tom Joad’s poor farmer neighbor showed frustration when he couldn’t blame the bulldozer driver for tearing down his house. The driver worked in a system. So did the forecloser, and the banker, and the sheriff. 

That system could deprive a person of hope. The initial starting point of a discipline can be absent when a sense of hopelessness or live-for-today shouts louder than the voice Drayton heard.

When research shows the impact on the Black community of how young males fight a hopelessness, the information comes in part from examining the impact of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Those laws targeted Black drug offenders while failing to address the white offenders. Those young Blacks saw a loss of their future when they discovered that jobs were out of reach after jail, while even driving in many states became denied for them. Despite studies showing that the 20 year-old can be more violent than a later development of maturity, the laws treated the Black youth as criminals almost for life. That system-wide legal barrier generated an increased separation between the Black and mainstream community.

One devastating impact on minorities grew from a failure to see any future ahead. Would people who felt those emotions have heard the same voice that called to Drayton? Youth need a specific type of role model, and way of breaking out of a system-wide constraint. Discipline isn’t the starting point. How does one obtain that discipline? Drayton does not answer this. 

For an example of an adaption of Drayton’s ideas fitting into a personal format, the Echos Through Space art therapy program in New York City’s Rikers Island jail helps youth despite living in the jail scene. The program boosts an 80 percent rate of people who do not return to crime. The program uses art to have young people express themselves. That expression opens up the sense of having a possible future. That desire then turns into a discipline. The art program is one version of a specific that could lead to the steps Drayton outlines.

Speaking about discipline requires a deeper look at the definition. Many youth looking to succeed fail despite having a type of disciple. The gangbanger or evader of school has a discipline devoted to a peer group or subculture. The person maintains a rigid respect for a procedure. But that is not the same discipline Drayton applies. Drayton speaks about mentors and leadership but specifics would help the approach in a more indepth manner. The bigger question needs to examine how new systems or viewpoints can attract the youth to adopt Drayton’s meaning of discipline.

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