All too often we hear nothing but negative and discouraging things about young African American males from those in the media. Surely young African American men are not inherently bad or genuinely problematic, but unfortunately those controlling the media would have the masses believe the stereotype that young Black boys may be brawny or athletically inclined but are not intellectually comparable to their White counterparts. Because of the over exposure of young Black men in a negative light, we find too many young Black men falling for the myth and literally accepting this dehumanizing notion of intellectual inferiority.
Sports seem to be the main venue where you see young Black men highlighted. It should be no surprise when you see a multitude of young Black boys putting all their effort and energy in dribbling or throwing a ball with dreams of one day making it to the NFL or NBA. Many of those who later realize that this dream may not come to fruition and that they have not prepared themselves academically drop out of school and sometimes succumb to selling drugs.
I suggest if more positive examples of Black young boys and girls doing good things are presented to our children they would have a better view as well as exposure to role models to emulate. They would have a better view of themselves and strive to meet positive expectations with the support of those in the community who look like them and are supportive. Let’s initiate a wide scale movement in building our young boys up and publically showcasing their natural greatness.
The often-projected views of our young Black men as being lazy, uneducated, non-goal orientated, and irresponsible with a proclivity to sex and drugs is drastically unwarranted. When subliminally inundated with these negative images, it is not hard to understand why many of these young men subconsciously feel this is expected of them.
The truth of the matter is that many of these young men are just victims of abject poverty through no fault of their own. Many of these young men are from single-family homes with only a mother or grandmother—lacking the much-needed father to navigate them to becoming a productive successful adult. It is a no brainer that the lack of positive fathers or male role models in these young Black men’s lives is a major factor in so many young boys lacking the guidance to overcome the calculated ‘birth-to-prison pipeline.’
Too often the single mothers providing for these young boys lack the parental skills and financial resources to adequately expose their children to venues and experiences making their sons well-rounded individuals. Thus, you often have young men lacking basic niceties they see their friends donning or possessing. Many of these young boys become possessed with dreams of making it to the pros and buying their mother a house. This desire to be materially equivalent to their White counterparts sometimes trumps everything. Unfortunately, selling drugs seems an easy and viable way for these young men to attain their dreams.
We need father role models in the community to reclaim our wayward young Black men. The earlier this bond, the better. While the rest of the world may accept that it is okay to have a single parent, we as Black people should revert back to the two-parent-family-unit raising our children. We must really adopt the adage that ‘it takes a village’ to raise a child, and put it to practice again.
Those of you with successful, well adjusted, educated children should reach back and help make that a reality for some child who may not be blessed with the resources you were blessed with. We are not talking about meeting with a child once or twice a month and buying him a hamburger. We are advocating having that child shadow you. Spend time with the child, plan educational and social activities, go to school related activities, listen to and advise the child, and encourage the child in setting short and long term goals.
Let’s relentlessly praise the accomplishments and achievements of our children and fuel their dreams. Our children should feel they are beautiful and walk proud knowing they are second to no one. They should be exposed to the positive endeavors of young peers they can identify with. They should be encouraged to proudly take their position in academic venues highlighting their intellect. They should be taught the importance of education, and that hard work and humbleness are unapologetic qualities that will one day reward them. The Black community must herald the achievements and positive contributions of multitudes of African Americans children, excelling in all genres—but often neglected by the general media.
There should be a concerted effort by all in the Black community, the haves and the have nots, to work assiduously to save our children—especially our young Black men. Apathy and a feeling of entitlement that you are better than those who look like you can no longer be accepted.
While we have numerous organizations, churches, sororities, fraternities, and social clubs working independently to tackle this problem, just think how much progress we could make if we worked together uniting our efforts. This problem could become history. Let’s become serious about saving our young Black boys. If we don’t save them, then who will?