As I mentioned last night on the Bev Smith Show, saving the black male in America is one of the most critical problems being faced by our community today. Over the last 30 years, black males have been subject to mass incarceration (mostly due to drug felonies after the Reagan Administration opened the door for the crack cocaine epidemic), subject to massive handgun violence (as guns followed the flow of drugs), and poor educational systems (we know how bad inner city schools are in America). As a result, many of these men are poorly equipped to become good husbands and fathers later in life, leading to the suffering of an entire community. The majority of black homes are fatherless, and our boys are bombarded with media that tells them to emulate the behavior of self-destructive hip-hop stars, or to toss away educational opportunities in exchange for an athletic lottery ticket. Something needs to be done.
Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe and his organization are working to solve these problems. Fighting for the black male is not popular in a society that is designed to destroy us. But even if society wants to see us dead and gone, that gives us no excuse to endorse the idea of killing ourselves and each other. It is for his outstanding work in the black community that Dr. Bledsoe is today’s Dr. Boyce Spotlight on Your Black World:
1) What is your name and what do you do?
by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University – Scholarship in Action
As a fan of hip-hop, I couldn’t help but appreciate the talent of the rapper Wiz Khalifa out of Pittsburgh. Fresh off the release of his new album, “Rolling Papers,” Wiz appears to be on the top of the hip-hop world. The first thing I thought about when I heard Wiz Khalifa’s style is that he sounded remarkably similar to artists of my generation, namely Snoop Dogg and Too Short.
Professor Carlos Thomas is one of the sharpest, most powerful black men on earth. Sitting on two PhDs (not one), Thomas has built a career that embraces the essence of the black academic warrior. Not only is he typically the sharpest man in the room, he is a living personification of the essence of what it means to be a black man in America: To love your family, teach the children around you (not just your own), and to stand a stand for what is right. It is because he has chosen to live a life full of power and purpose that Dr. Thomas is today’s Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight on AOL Black Voices:
1) Tell your kids you love them every single day
Love not only makes the world go round, but every person needs to feel loved in order to have the balance necessary to be truly successful. If you love your kids, don’t just show it with your actions, say it with words. It will keep them from seeking love in all the wrong places.
2) Set an example for other fathers
The black male gets a bad rap for allegedly being an irresponsible father. We know that this stereotype is a misguided reflection of America’s historical hatred of the black male, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t encourage each other to do a better job. Demand that other brothers in your circle stand up as good fathers to their children, in spite of their circumstances. It can be tough to be a good parent with sky high unemployment and incarceration rates, but that doesn’t give you an excuse not to try. Those of us who ignore our children should be shamed into realizing how harmful such irresponsibility is to our community.
3) Always find a way to show respect to their mother
Even if you can’t stand the woman you had a child with, you should always give her as much respect as you possibly can. Kids don’t enjoy watching their parents fight, no matter whose fault it is. Also, in spite of your differences, you must always find a way to show appreciation toward the woman who gave life to your offspring.
4) Prepare them for the bullsh*t
We know that being black isn’t easy. You have to be twice as good to get half as much and life sometimes kicks you in the butt when you don’t deserve it. Prepare your kids for life as an African American, letting them know that they are going to have to be tough, smart and courageous to succeed in a world where the odds can be stacked against them. We all know that life isn’t fair, and it’s important to make sure your kids are prepared for the coming disparities.
March 9, 1997 will forever go down in history as the day when the world lost one of it’s most talented artists, the Notorious B.I.G. Biggie was "the man," dropping lyrics like no other, gaining respect all around the world. He was loved by the community, and his spirit continues to live in the world on the 14-year anniversary of the day that he died.
I loved both Biggie and Tupac when they were alive. Both of them were about my age, and I mourned with the rest of the world after hearing about their deaths. I can also say that, like nearly everyone else, I knew that both Biggie and Pac were going to die young. Both artists seemed to believe that the end was coming soon, which is a problem that is all too common among young African American males.
In the midst of the cultural cancer that impacts the lives of millions of young black men across America, we find that all too often young black men don’t expect to become old men. Hip-hop has long existed as a venue through which the state of the black male is communicated, and in this arena, you find that there is consistent conversation about violence, homicide and the soldier-like suicidal mindset that these men must embrace in order to have a chance to keep breathing.
Wise Intelligent from Poor Righteous Teachers lays out his theory on why hip-hop is so negative and self-destructive. He argues that negative messages that black males share with one another are partly driven by the desire to put their social conscience to sleep. Watch the video below, or you can see it by clicking here.
Well, they’ve done it again. Urban Prep Academy of Chicago, an all-male charter school with kids from the "worst" parts of Chicago, is sending 100% of its graduating seniors off to college. The school, founded in 2006, has stated that its continuous objective is to see to it that all of its students go to college. They are succeeding with flying colors.
The school started with kids whose futures had been left for dead by their public schools: Only four percent of the school’s incoming freshmen were reading at grade level when they arrived on campus. But by sending all of their graduating seniors to college, they’ve not only gotten these kids up to speed, they’ve allowed them to zip past every other public school in the entire United States.
"No other public [school] in the country has done this," said Tim King, the founder of Urban Prep.
Dick’s Sporting Goods recently made a decision that is bad for business. Taking one of the boldest, and perhaps silliest, stands of any corporation in recent memory, Dick’s decided not to sell Michael Vick jerseys in any of their stores.
Perhaps they earned a few dog-loving customers, but they lost the support of any shareholder who cares about making money. It’s one thing for lynch mobs to embrace vigilantism, but another for a corporation to engage in the same irrational behavior. Vick paid his debt to society; it’s time to move on with our lives.
The top brass at the Nike Corporation are smarter than the management at Dick’s Sporting Goods, but they too understand the need to stay away from Michael Vick, at least for right now. When asked to respond to rumors that Vick had signed a deal with Nike, the company gave an immediate and resounding "no." After the Nike denial, Michael Vick’s agent, Joel Segal, had to backpedal faster than an NFL defensive back to kill any indication that his client has re-signed with the "big swoosh." However, the confidence with which the signing was announced indicates that the relationship might be deeper than we think.
The truth is that I don’t believe a single word of the Nike dismissal. Like the big egos in Beyonce’s song, Nike’s swoosh is " too big, too wide, too strong" for them to sit idly by as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL makes his return to the game. Nike executives have seen Vick grace the cover of Xbox games and sports magazines and often refer to him as the man who "revolutionized the quarterback position." They know that Vick is not washed up, and that some of his best years may still be ahead of him.