The year 2015 was challenging for African-American males. We were shot, killed and seriously injured at record rates, according to some reports.
There were national cases which caught our attention. The relationship between Black men and the police has soured to a point where we must be careful and cautious about our every move. Many African-American men like me have often said that when we leave home in the morning there is no guarantee that we will return home in the evening.
The Black Lives Matter Movement has created such a stir that presidential hopefuls like Bernie Sanders are talking about it and making it a part of their campaign. Other candidates dispute the legitimacy of the movement and attach no importance to it.
If you live in a major urban area, you see the murder rate among African-American males spiraling out of control. While an argument can be made about strained relationships between law enforcement and Black men, the overwhelming majority of these murders happen because of us.
We, as Black men, are killing and maiming other Black men. This is a fact that is painful yet undisputable. However, this Black-on-Black crime epidemic seemingly does not get our full attention. Where is our outrage as Black people when Black children bring guns to school in their book bags? Why is there not equal disgust when rival Black gangs indiscriminately shoot into unsuspecting crowds of innocent people?
As I read newspaper stories and Internet accounts about these senseless acts of violence, I often wonder if we, as Black people, have simply become immune to violence.
Have we reached a low point in our culture where we now try to justify Black men shooting each other? Yet when a police officer shoots a Black man some of us are the first to march and scream and holler.
Yes, it is patently wrong for a police officer to shoot an unsuspecting Black teenager or to place a chokehold on a Black man that results in his death.
Well, 2016 is officially here and, as Black people, we must stop this violence upon ourselves.
Adam Clayton Powell Jr., a Black Congressman from New York many years ago, used as his signature expression, “Keep the faith baby.” So it is that we must keep the faith in 2016.
Let us keep the faith that Black parents can recommit themselves to being parents to their children and not their friends.
Let us keep the faith in trying to help young Black men find their way in life. It is my opinion that being Black, male and being between the ages of 18 and 30 brings on unwanted challenges.
This age group I have observed has a certain swagger. Yet too many in this age range have the wrong type of swagger.
They have the swagger of not listening to good old school advice. They have the swagger of not having a job. They have the swagger of thinking that using violence to solve disputes and problems is the only answer.
Let those of us who know the swagger of success help these young brothers to change their social paradigm.
Let us show them through our volunteerism and taking care of our families that we have the swagger of social responsibility. Let us show them that getting an education, going into the military or getting a job with training will help them with the swagger of taking charge of their lives.
Let us be good listeners and give them support as they develop their swagger of self-confidence.
As this new year begins, we must come to the defense and save our Black children. As Marvin Gaye sang many years ago, “We must save the babies.”
We must help them to take school more seriously. We must teach them to obey school rules so that teachers can impart knowledge and wisdom. The axiom that children represent our future is as true today as it was in my day.
Schools can’t be places where children talk back to teachers and see that there are no consequences for their actions.
As parents and grandparents, we cannot send unruly and disrespectful children to school.
As Black men and women, we must make a difference in the lives of these young Black boys.
If you are White, you too can make a difference in the lives of these young people. Reach out and they will reach back, as caring not color will win them over.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Keep the faith.
Could training in implicit bias be helpful at your institution?