We are experiencing a frightening time when so many of our children, especially African American males, are spiraling down an abyss leading to their downfall or demise. There are too many factors to contribute to this venture down the wrong path making choices that in the end hurt the individuals as well as society.
Poverty, inadequate education, lack of family values, lack of spirituality, and too many single parent households and social and economic inequalities are some key culprits. Some would emphatically argue that there exists a bureaucratic systemic practice to decimate young Black men breaking down their self-esteem and relegating them to the penal system for profit.
The sad part of this equation is that Black people in general are looking for the judicial criminal system to fix this situation, while all too often this is the very system complicit in executing the plan. Laws and policies have been enacted that disproportionally affect people of color when enforced. The movement Black Lives Matter has resulted from this haunting reality that can no longer be ignored.
We as African Americans must work harder and be more committed in changing the outcome for so many of our youth lost in a sea of hopelessness and anger. Too many African American youth manifest anger brought on by living in an altered reality, comparing the economic and social disparities that exist between them and so many of their White counterparts. The economic and social advantages are often so overwhelming that it is partly responsible in sometimes creating a mindset that Blacks are inadequate or inferior and therefore setting up a sense of hopelessness fueled by anger.
Adding insult to injury, the media (TV, movies, radio, and newspapers) often portray Blacks in a negative light: uneducated, devoid of morals, and reeking of sensationalism and buffoonery. Therefore, if you have children not knowing who they are, you find life imitating art. That is not complimentary for many Black boys growing up with little supervision, lacking positive guidance from a father figure.
We must combat or compete with gangs devoid of respect for laws or human life. We are referring to gangs that are winning in offering our young boys and girls love and acceptance with devastating consequences. The truth is that we must intercede at an early age, because often you can wait too long. Then it is close to impossible to change the mindset of someone who doesn’t want to change. It is no secret that lack of love, guidance, education, and supervision opens the door to gangs. It is also sad that many of our youth join gangs for the protection that adults in the community don’t or cannot provide.
We can no longer sit by and point fingers, but become actively engaged in correcting this spiraling problem. An all-out call for the Black community to come together and save our young boys as well as girls is a start to correcting the problem. While there are African American associations such as fraternities, sororities, social groups, athletic coaches, and churches actively engaged in working with Black youth as tutors and mentors—we must solicit more support. We must have community call meetings and gather more support from single parent mothers, offering parenting classes and help in offering their children positive male or female tutors and mentors when needed. We must take a more active role in molding our children into the instruments for good that God intended them to be, even if that means literally adopting a child and having them shadow you as often as possible.
We must bring back the ‘village’ concept. Regardless of your economic or social status, we are in this together. We must offer recreational and educational facilities with guidance and supervision. We must have educators in schools that mirror our children and are not afraid to teach them of their greatness and worth.
We must teach our children to love and respect themselves and to have a relationship with God. Regardless of the path society is following as a whole, we must deviate and teach our children to be morally responsible and work for social and economic justice. We must instill in our Black youth that when they succeed, we all succeed and that makes this a better world.
Roll up your sleeves, especially the Black church community, and work more actively in saving our wayward children. I’d rather see a sermon than hear one. Let’s really work together, collectivity, as predominately Black communities to save our children. If we don’t who will?