Earlier this week, I started writing about the status and progress of Black American men. I’m not even sure what prompted the thought at this point, but I wanted to know whether there was any chance of the improvement of black men. When I say improvement, I would like for that to refer to the mental condition of all of us as a whole; a healing of the social stigmas that we have been conditioned to live by. Considering the fact that it would take generations upon generations to reverse what generations upon generations have done, I settled for the idea of hoping for the change of how the Black American man is viewed. Even though, this would take long as well, I believe it would be a great start to a more permanent change within the minds of black men.
Typically, I try to keep my topics more open, hopefully to broaden the perspective of anyone who may read no matter what ethnicity they come from — But on so many levels, who you are, is who you look like. I am a black man and there is only so much that I can say without exclusively referring to all black men. In the general American eye, we are all the same, and for me to want progress for myself, is to want progress for us all. So even though everything (as far as I am concerned) falls under the umbrella of being a Christian, I, being just a man, feel compelled to address more specific people, even though God sees us all the same.
My core thought process of the entire issued though, was based this theory: All of us want better; all of us want to do better; but not all of us have seen better. Therefore, we have nothing better by which to model ourselves.
Then handy-dandy Google, absorbed a few hours of my time. I came across a video that took place in 1994 of a convention for black men. At that particular session I watched, there were approximately 13,000 men on the inside of a large church and another 18,000 outside surrounding the building. The leaders at this convention were not catering to their egos, or telling them of blessings soon to come. The leaders there were not telling them that everything would be alright. These men were being told the importance of raising families, caring for their women and loving one another, instead of acting out violence towards one another. The crowd was filled with young men who were extremely receptive to what they were hearing. This made me feel that whatever progress had to be made, could be made; until I realized 1994 was twenty years ago. I enjoyed maybe an hour of hope and writing, before I realized “1994”. After just a few minutes more of thinking about all the detriment that has been done since then, I gave up and scrapped the essay.
The deterioration that I’m referring to is not limited to blacks only though; it has affected the entire nation. However, blacks might have taken the longest strides towards progress, while at the same time, taking even larger strides backwards. We have made the most progress in the fields of entertainment, which in most instances glorifies lives of crime and degradation. I am not faulting the artists, and producers, and actors, and directors (completely), but when this media is passed along without the proper checks and balances, we turn and act it out in real life. So the success for one can indirectly turn into failure for thousands. To add a bit of validity to my point, how many times have car accidents and school shootings by adolescent boys and young men been attributed to or linked to video games? Well then why can’t movies and music do the same to the actions of our young people?
With all of that being said, let me explain why I am writing this now. Today after Sunday service, my brother and I stood talking in the parking lot maybe fifteen feet from the sidewalk. From one end of the sidewalk, two young, dreadlocked black men walked towards three slightly younger black men coming in the opposite direction. The sidewalk is barely wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side on. As the two groups came closer to each other, meeting adjacent to where my brother and I were standing, I became quiet… as did my brother. I’m not sure what my brother was thinking, but I was thinking, “It’s about to go down.” That lets me know that my mind is no better than that of general America towards my own people. I expected there to be at least an exchange of words due to simple sidewalk territory. Nonetheless, I was blessed to see my ignorance proven wrong. Without a spoken word, both parties aligned themselves to smoothly pass by each other without incident. But yet and still, in my ignorance, I thought, “That was close.” So to combat that layer of corrupted thinking, one of the guys in the duo turned and addressed the younger trio and said, “Hey guys, I really appreciate you moving to the side like you did. Most people might not have done that.” The younger group thanked them for their gratitude and continued with looks of accomplishment on their faces. I could tell that with those kind words, they would be more eager to be courteous when the next opportunity presented itself. Now I’m left standing there in amazement with a sense of stoopid that I’m almost too ashamed to admit. Even though, I had just walked out of church, neither my heart nor mind showed any hope of common courtesy between these young men. I was shown that it is a lot easier to have faith in my mind that it is with your heart, and in my heart, I did not expect better from my own brothers.
My brother and I chased down the older two guys and told them how much it had encouraged us to see them do what they did. They replied, “You have to give, to get. We show that to get that.” At that point, it was confirmed with me that all you need is a good heart to make a change. Those guys had hearts of gold. I believe I was allowed to see that to encourage me not to give up on what I hope and pray for when it comes to my people, specifically. If things continue in the direction that they are going, things may not get better, but if everyone gives up hope, things definitely will not get any better. I feel 100% better about black men than I did last week, all because of that. I feel like there is hope for a few more black women because of that. Because of what I witnessed today, I feel better about the future of our families and the progression of our people; not monetarily, but in standards and integrity. This was something that let me know that the condition of our men is not completely lost, and with enough effort, their lives can be improved, and their souls can be saved through love and Jesus Christ.