Saturday, October 16, 2010
The Robo Call That Connected Me To A Band Of Brothers
On Friday as I was driving home in a massive traffic jam I received a phone call on one of my mobile phones that I never carry with me otherwise. I knew that anyone calling me on this number was actually intending to call the previous holder of the phone number.
I picked up the phone expecting to tell the caller that they were calling the wrong number. It turned out that it was a recording, telling me about a gathering of "500 Men Standing In The Gap Men's Conference" for Clayton County Public Schools.
I do not live in Clayton County. In as much as my home county is pretty self-sufficient I spend most of my community service time focused on neighboring Clayton County.
I jotted down the time and location of the gathering. I then had to negotiate with the wife and kids as to how I could drop the kids off at their events and attend this session at Mundy's Mill High School from 9am to 12noon on Saturday.
It appears that the "500 Men Standing In The Gap" is a program focused upon (Black) male fathers of males between 12-18. They are responding to the noted problems with the schools (gangs and Black male academic performance) and they are soliciting the help from the fathers to engage in a better governance role with their sons in the Clayton County Schools.
I was able to drop my daughter off and take my young son with me to the event.
In A Room Full Of Like Minds
In summary - I heard enough of a like-minded viewpoint from the 40 or so men in the room to verify that my views ARE the norm. It is clear that when partisan politics are removed from the discussion there is little disagreement between me and other Black men who see the need for functional governance of our community.
With Clayton County it took the reign of open chaos for some of these brothers to step forward. Thus the program.
Let me be clear - I did NOTHING to assist in bringing this program to fruition. I was merely a participant.
I will continue to do my own public service projects but I see a greater need in my contributions to the analysis of the problems and the reporting upon them. Few people go to the "favorable" Black opinion writers and ask "So what have you done for the community/politics" to certify you as a critic?
I heard the "Human Resource Management" principles that I so frequently talk about being talked about among a room full of Black men. (One White guy with interracial children with him). To their credit none of the content that was discussed had any particular racial customization. Everyone was made to feel as part of the solution.
The key principles that were communicated were founded in the notion that fathers need to step up and perform their roles in the lives of their school children. Particularly the males that need guidance.
There were several slides that were posted that sought to capture the elements that are important in developing young people in our own image, allowing them to move the the next level.
This Guy Right Here Is An Elementary School Principal And Is The Only Man In The School
This brother sitting next to me said that he is a principal of a local elementary school. He is the only man in the building with 650 children and nothing but a female staff.
He said that there is an abundance of discipline problems. Black male elementary aged students are being sent to his office for disrupting the class time. (Are you listening to this Michelle Alexander?)
The principal noted that so many of these young males have no steady male authority figure in their lives.
He stated that he asked one of the young boys "If I was watching you would you have done what you did?". The kid said "No. You are a man and I know that you would not let me get away with it".
Sound Principles, Traditional Black Community & Christian-Based Theories
I have concluded that the ideologies and theories that are common among Black as expressed on various blogs DO NOT represent the prevailing theories that are on the street. In this quasi-school system sponsored event there was talk about how Christian principles are valuable tenants in the philosophy that is necessary to turn the situation around. I did not see any ACLU lawyers standing up protesting the comment.
The point that impressed me the most about the gathering is that the facilitators presented a framework and then asked the men in the audience to give life to them via their personal experiences and opinions on the matter.
As With The Church - The Main People That Need To Hear The Message Are Not In Attendance
My concern with this gathering is similar to that which I have with so many other consciousness building efforts: The people who need to have a more structured way of thinking added to their repertoire where not present. They were off doing the things that are far too often in violation of that which we were talking about.
I remain resolute on the need to expand the comprehensiveness of these type of programs, scaling them to the point where they are EFFECTIVE in mitigating the problems. The content was great but it needs to scale to address the severity of the threat.
I plan to become an active participant in this program.