Thursday, May 31, 2007

A blueprint for black men to use

I have previously acknowledged the crisis gripping the black male in America. Even a cursory review of the stats would confirm this assessment. However, I do believe there is something we can do about our situation and it is within our control. The issue is do we have the will to dig ourselves out of this hole.

In a recent keynote address, Israel L. Gaither, national commander of the Salvation Army, challenged black men to rise up and lead. He said, "Enough is enough, now is the time for the rising of those who dare to lead with spiritual, cultural and intellectual integrity."

Following his model, a viable blueprint for black men should be characterized as L.E.A.D.

  • Learn to love God, others and ourselves. This becomes our core value.
  • Education is a life or death issue for blacks and the black man in particular. You must graduate from high school and you must do well in high school. There is no other option.
  • Accountability for reversing the dismal conditions facing black men rest with black men. We cannot abdicate this responsibility to anyone. Fathers, accept responsibility for your sons and daughters. That means you love your children, you set boundaries and limits for them and you protect them.
  • Determination and cooperation will govern relationships between black churches, fraternities and other organizations. The pooling of resources and talent is an important strategy to address the black male crisis. A collective rather than a go-it-alone approach is more effective.

Now, there is no shame in needing or asking for help. However, we should be clear that the heavy lifting is ours to do.

As Mr. Gaither put it "rise up, rise up, it's getting late.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

It is all about culture!

If we as a community are going to close many of the performance gaps we hear so much about today, it will be a result of a transformation of our culture. As used here, culture simply refers to everything we do. Learning (academic excellence) must become an expectation in our culture.

It is not so today. A learning culture goes beyond simply "valuing an education" A learning culture demands excellence, and does not excuse failure to perform with the usual poverty/racism chorus.

A learning culture is characterized by actions that confirm what we say we value.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Making a Living

"The greatest indictment of such education as Negroes have received, however, is that they have thereby learned little as to making a living, the first essential in civilization." by Carter G. Woodson.

This quote is of course from the masterpiece, The Mis-Education of the Negro. Mr. Woodson was rendering a critique of what he called education under outside control. However, I would like to focus on his clear statement regarding the essential nature of "making a living" and its very basic relationship to civilization itself.

The statement speaks volumes and is a direct hit on those who today refuse, for any reason, to acquire the necessary education (skills, knowledge,training, etc) to take care of your own basic needs.

The United States faced by Mr. Woodson in 1933 is vastly different from the one we encounter in 2007. Opportunities are greater than at any time in our history. To be sure, African Americans continue to face problems, and race is certainly one of them.

But, in my view, neither race nor racism represents our biggest problem as a people today. I will not lecture or engage in further blame. My purpose is to challenge and encourage. Look deep within and learn the virtue of perseverance. You already have the gifts and abilities. Now use them if for no other reason than simply to....make a living.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Black Male Crisis is Real

There is a position among some in this country that black males are under siege. I am now among those who have come to this conclusion.

The tipping point for me comes in the National Urban League's State of Black America. You may view information on at The League has published reports of this nature in prior years, however, this year the focus presents a portrait of the Black Male.

Some of the findings indicate:
  • 18% of black males drop out of high school compared to 14% of white males
  • Black men earn less than three-quarters of what white men earned($34,443 vs. $46,807)
  • A higher percent of blacks (especially males) than whites are convicted and receive longer sentences than whites.
  • Black men under 25 years of age are 15 times more likely to die by homicide than their white counterparts.

Of course this conclusion is not a surprise to prolific author Jawanza Kunjufu who published Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys. Kunjufu concluded in part that "...passive conspirators, are African Americans who participate via their mis-education, self-hatred and apathy. This group consists of African American males who do not raise their children. It also includes African American women who have double standards for their children. They have lower expectations for their sons than their daughters. this group includes African American educators who also have lowered their expectations for African American children, specifically the male child. It also includes those that sell drugs and commit murder."

My attempt is therefore to drive a commitment to action in order to reverse this crisis.

Education is the key. Our males must be shown the value of learning and performing at their very best no matter the circumstances. Knowledge and your ability to apply it to a variety of situations will truly set you free and enable one to compete at the highest levels of our society.

This is about a change in black culture. More on that later. What do you think?

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