Sunday, October 14, 2007
The Painful Truth Said Behind Closed Door
At a recent gathering of a mentorship group that I am a part of I was amazed to hear the "painful truth" be said among those Black men who gathered. I consider myself to be one who doesn't mince words about the problems that we face as a people. I was stunned that in this, and other sessions those who would call themselves "Black Liberals" would come out and say what they would never say in public where ideological/political or face saving restraint in front of White folks would restrict them.
The focus was upon what we could expect in dealing with young boys who live in housing authority properties. We were given tactics regarding how to deal with them and the disruptive behavior among some of them. They were denied many of the academic foundation that is necessary for them to succeed in school. We were asked to reach them where they stand rather than expecting to engage them at the level that other children that we have interacted with, including our own.
The most stinging criticism, however, was reserved for the parents of these children. Most of them are young themselves and lack any sort of stability in their own lives to be a worthy guide for their children. We were told to drop any expectations that we would have our efforts to reach out to THEIR kids appreciated by the parents, at least many of them. Much of this reaction has to do with their own feelings of insecurity regarding their own education. We need to not look down upon them in any way but instead appreciate where they stand and their own perspective which is different than ours.
I am actually glad that many of these brothers said this (and more). It is plain to see that this is the case to the objective observer. What troubles me, however, is that many of these same bothers, when put into public discourse on the problems plaguing our people will go into denial over these very things if Bill O'Reilly, for example, made the same conclusion. I am not suggesting that any of these brothers are "Cosby Bashers" but I will say that many of them would not go strongly against those who are.
Why don't we start with what we know - stable homes, educated parents and at least two people working to take care of their own are the essential ingredients to address the cyclical problems that are present among segments of our population?
It is my personal view that as one man, or as part of a small group of Black men I am not going to be able to make universal change among these people. We need to promote THE MAN who produced these children to take prime responsibility for their care. There are literally MILLIONS of them compared with hundreds of thousands of us. We have our own children to consider as well. Left unattached - they have few responsibilities to ponder. This is not a 100% punitive proposal against them but it is a demand that they stand up and recognize their own "racial obligations" to "reach back" just as I am asked to do so as a Black man.