RESCUING BLACK BOYS

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When observing some of the violence and mayhem that is all too common in urban Black America, it becomes obvious that our youth are endangered. Poor diet, questionable schools, environmental racism and a toxic social culture are having a very debilitating impact on our youth, and by extension, all of us. Today, more than 70% of all African American children are raised in single parent households, mostly female-headed. This alone, due to gender hierarchical disparities, almost guarantees that our children will be raised in poverty with access to only the most basic, and sometimes inadequate, resources. All of this has an adverse impact on the health and well-being of communities. Moreover, Black communities are suffering from decisions made by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Basically, EPA, is a federal agency of the United States Federal Government whose mission is that of protecting our health. It has relaxed standards based on economic concerns with the result that there is an adverse impact on the environment. Consequently, poor physical health is impacting psychological and social health. Our health is compromised by economic policies. So today, Black citizens in particular, are under attack by environmental injustices fueled by economics. Think Flint, Michigan! Now, what does this have to do with saving Black boys? The answer is that they have been impacted by poor community physical, social, and psychological health! Of course, girls are just as victimized by these issues, but there are social and cultural differences that must be factored. Chief among these is that women have traditionally been considered as second class citizens. They have been perceived as the “weaker sex,” and have had to fight tooth and nail for privileges that are viewed as natural for men, Black men included. The result of masculine privilege among Black males has resulted in a tendency for boys to ignore the power wielded by Black mothers in family units that are absent males. Mothers, therefore, because of social hierarchy, sometimes have difficulty controlling the behavior of Black males who are left to find their male role models in urban streets. This has resulted in gang culture and a general debasing of women and the family unit. These boys grow up and repeat a cycle of disrespect for women. They are not able to avail themselves of the life-affirming qualities that women usually represent, like nurturing, caring, gentleness. Case in point – one of the main things many Black males abhor is the notion of appearing “soft.” The worst thing that could be said to a Black male is “You act like a B*tch!” This disdain for femininity has had two major effects. First, it ironically resulted in the strengthening of women because of the necessity for them doing double duty as the head of household. Another result is that boys in these families tend to become weaker and spiritually debased. This is why they are killing each other with such gusto. This is why misogynistic and violent-laden gangsta’ rap is ubiquitous. They have lost their way. Women tend to have the psychological muscles to cope. Boys, on the other hand, need extra help because of the absence of balance provided by the feminine principle. If we are to save our boys, we must figure out a way to activate their sense of family; of security that is born out of genuine love, agape. We must take it upon ourselves to create structures that will reconnect our boys to the spiritual side of things. It has been suggested that a mandatory institutional “Rites of Passage” model be implemented, one where adult males work with a structured curriculum that will be like “mentoring on steroids” for Black male youth. It could be a stand-alone program that occurs after school or on Saturdays, or one connected to existing institutions that are funded and controlled by the Black community. One thing is certain, whatever form it takes it must include the significant participation of positive adult males. Most of our boys will not make it without their influence. (By the way, girls could benefit from a similar program). What is certain is that NO ONE WILL SAVE US BUT US AND WE MUST TAKE THE LEAD! A Luta Continua.

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