My white coworker is a compassionate man who I consider a good friend. He is a self-proclaimed “conservative.” However, I think that I have convinced him that labels like “conservative” and “liberal” are really vehicles of divisiveness often used by the fringes of the political machinery for profit and concealment of the fact that we have so much more in common than we do our differences. The truth of the matter is that most of us want safe neighborhoods, lower taxes, and promising futures for our children.
We both believe in the founding principles of our Country, but we sometimes have to debate their application, especially when it comes to issues of race.
It is unsettling to him when I tell him that my son has to be five times better at his endeavors because he is an African-American male. It is unsettling to him because he believes that America is better than that. After all, he certainly is and I really do mean that.
I hope and pray for the day that an African-American father will no longer have to speak those words of guidance to his man-child. For now, I believe that this cautionary instruction about effort and excelling is essential.
During President Obama’s first State of the Union address, I watched in shock as a South Carolina Senator loudly proclaimed in the hallowed chambers of a joint session of Congress that our President was a “liar.” This conduct was reprehensible decorum. Ironically, it was displayed towards a President who is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School. I thought that the mantra was that we always respected the office if not the man.
I think you get the point!
Some months back, I settled in with the family to watch actress Nia Long host a wonderful extravaganza on BET (Black Entertainment Television). The show celebrated the program “Black Girls Rock'” founded by Beverly Bond. Black Girls Rock celebrates successful and achieving Black woman and empowers young Black woman to take their rightful place in society.
I thought to myself as I watched this wonderful show, Black Girls Rock……but so do Black boys! I watched Black female success stories celebrated by other Black females, some of whom were superstars. There are programs working everyday to empower and educate Black boys to take their rightful place in society. Where is our television program celebrating the successful and achieving Black male? We have plenty of businessmen, surgeons, judges, teachers…………….. you name it.
Please do not misunderstand. I was so proud to see this show and its positive celebration of African-American women. There were points during the show that I was almost moved to tears. Yes, Black girls do rock……but so do Black boys! So here are a few questions:
1) Why is the prevailing media view of the African-American male that of a hip-hop icon, bumping and grinding, pants sagging, and rapping about some stereotypical aspect of urban life-like dope dealing, dope using, misogyny, or an expensive car, or an athlete dunking a basketball or hurling his body across a football field?
2) Shouldn’t there be more celebrations of manhood and responsibility at the local level, like the debutante balls and cotillions taking place all over this Country, and significantly increased media coverage of the ones that do exist? We have rites of passage, mentoring programs, and youth ministries for Black boys all over this Country.
3) Shouldn’t there be an equivalent television show……Black Boys Rock that honors and celebrates Black males, young and old alike, who have achieved success in areas other than sports and entertainment?
Until we figure this out and start to publicly celebrate positive images of Black men and boys, in a manner and magnitude like we currently celebrate and publicize the negative images, I guess those of us who deserve that spotlight will just have to keep trying to be five times better.
Maybe then more people will take notice that Black Boys Rock too, because nobody hopes more than I do that one day my friend and coworker will be right.
Read, learn, and share…….Have a Family Meeting!