Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Who will cry for the children?

There I was, sitting in my office at the bank and ready to help the next customer when she walked in with her children. Two boys, the oldest 2, and the youngest 1 year old, were with her. I knew they existed because for the previous 30 minutes as she waited in the lobby, they terrorized patrons and staff. They hollered, screamed, threw things, and even ran around like wild men. She, a young African American female, was the classic picture of brokenness. When our eyes met, my soul became empathetic to her circumstance, and her present and future struggle. All I could think of was where in the hell is the father of these two young black boys who are to become men. Where is he? My eyes watered as I watched them spin out of control. They glazed over with a sea-like shine as I watched the oldest try but fail to stab his younger brother with the pen off of my desk. I watched as his eyes encapsulated some of the evil he has been exposed too before he forcefully committed his act. I watched the youngest fall from my chair and hit head first at the bridge of his nose on the corner of my desk after standing and not being told to sit in my chair. Then I watched this young mother with no care grab him by one arm and sling he into his chair repeatedly; I could tell she loved them but she had no parenting skills. I know this because during the course of our conversation, this young lady told me that she had just moved out of her mother's house and that her mom was the standard of discipline in her boys' lives. To me, that explained her lack of control. She was Cindy to them; not mom. After having this thought, the oldest call her Cindy (not her real name) to get her attention, and my heart grew heavier; where is/are their fathers?

It is a very difficult task to raise children, not to mention trying to do it alone. In a world already stacked trump tight against them, these boys chances of succeeding are slim. They are going to have to be taught to fight! But who will teach them? In school, if their behavior doesn't change, they'll surely be tracked. That record will follow them throughout their educational experience. Who will cry for the little boys? Who will cry for these children? I was so heart broken at the prospects for their lives that I had to start talking to friends about what we can do to help our children. Now that the conversation has started, it is my hope that we will channel our energy into some mode of action. If not us, who will cry, and who will fight for our children? Must their dreams be deferred at inception?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Our Ancestors

I often wonder if I would have been strong enough to withstand the mistreatment, degradation, and shame that slavery inflicted on our people. Would I have been strong enough to work tirelessly day in and day with little or no pay? Would I have been able to watch my wife, or daughter ripped away from me,or watch my brother, or son sold away from me and still have my sanity intact? I thank God everyday that I will never have to answer those questions.

When the mainstream media talk about family, or in the case of African Americans, the lack of a nuclear family, they often fail to mention the erosion factors that have carried our family to its current state. Slavery challenged the Black family and rocked it to its core. Jim Crow ripped up the esteem of the Black family and caused it to doubt itself, or see themselves as inadequate, less than human. In a nutshell, the law suppressed the Black family legally for years before anyone dared challenge the humanity of it all.

Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon is a book written that dares to bring to light ills perpetrated by the law on black men from the Civil War to World War II. (I hope you are ready to go to school) Did you know that if a white man went to his local Sheriff's Office and stated that a particular black man owed him money that the sheriff would throw said black man in jail? He would then release him to work for the plaintiff (white man) until his debt was paid off. Now understand, there was never any proof offered, the white man would set some arbitrary number, and then release said black man months or years after supposed debt would have been satisfied. This practice was widely practiced in the South. Unfortunately, many of the victims fell into a cycle of indebtedness to their accusers based on behavior while working for them to pay off their false debt.

By this point, I'm hoping that you are beginning to see some of the factors of erosion at work as perpetrated. Many would have you believe that black men are lazy, horrible fathers, and ignorant when it comes to maintaining their families. It's simply not true. After years of oppression, the black community as a whole had to re-identify themselves and solidify their beliefs. It was difficult work, but they did it. Our ancestors did it with class, dignity, respect, and Godliness. We have come along way by faith, and dependence upon each other. We have obtained many things; however, let us not get short sighted. The goal in still in front of us; we have not reached it. Yes, our president is black, but until all of us obtain true freedom in all aspects, we must continue to press towards the mark.