By: Kenah Lynnette Lyons, Guest Writer
Central Michigan University
Integrative Public Relations/Event Management/Journalism
In today’s society, how affected a young, African-American male becomes after being raised in a single parent household without a father figure is a serious topic of discussion. Scholars from all over write on the issue and the debate continues today on whether or not it is an issue in connection to violence and negativity occurring amongst the young men. Young men, African-American particularly, are becoming involved in street engaged activities and leaning on substances that may damage their futures if they have not already. These young men never plan to endure these difficulties or engage in dangerous activities, but feel the need to in order to fill a void that they are missing. Many suggestions have been provided in how to help these young men of color. Organizations and programs that can be beneficial to the type of service they need have been offered as well. Not only do some of the young men seek attention and help, but the mothers and grandmothers of these young men are searching for it too. They agree with the critics that their sons, who may be rebellious or looking for attention in wrong places, need some type of help or counseling. Some of the activities that they get involved in sometimes put their lives at risk. Mothers and grandmothers all over are worried sick about their sons. Some are even feeling as if they have done the best they can at raising them, but because they have pulled every technique of parenting as they know it, should they give up on these young men? The answer is no. There is something these young men can fight their odds with and there are ways of doing it.
What most of these people in discussion forget to realize is that young, African-American women are raised in the same or very similar situations. Many females are brought up in single-parent households due to a variety of circumstances. I, myself was raised in a single-parent household with just my mother. With that came many challenges similar to what males face under those circumstances and being a female of color did not make the situation that I faced more positive. My father was incarcerated when I was just three months old. He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison due to a high end crime leaving my mother with a new born baby to raise on her own. My mother never planned to raise me on her own. In fact, her and my father had a lot of plans for parenting together. Things changed quickly, but one thing that was not going to change was not having my father around. My mother made sure to give me special attention and to be there for me as much as possible. She worked hard to provide for me, the necessities, and did everything in her power to assure I had many of my wants. My mother was the independent woman who wanted her daughter, her only child, to witness that things may not always go as planned, but with faith, things will surely go. It took me a while to grasp the concept of that method and at times I learned the hard way, but eventually I learned.
Just like myself, there are African-American women who have been raised like this and young, African American women who are in those current conditions today. Although they may not endure and seek the same attention that the men do, they do undergo many trials and engage in substances that are not good for self. Just like the males, they may encounter these things because of the upbringing they were faced to experience. Not many women engage in criminal violence or anything crime related, but it definitely does happen. Our African-American men are criticized more for it and they are brought to the light before any women who may have committed the same types of things. Many of these women being raised without a father face emotional instability in different ways. They look for love in all the wrong places, especially in the male species because that is wherewith the lack of love lies. They look for young men to give them special attention that they should have known in a father. This is very dangerous and surfaces other issues following the matter. Females are more emotionally attached when it comes to those in their lives and those who are not in their lives. It takes them a while to deal with the fact that someone will not be there or has chosen to leave.
I remember always feeling unappreciated. It took me years to wrap my head around the fact that my dad did what he did. I could not understand how a person could have just helped bring something so precious into the world and do something to jeopardize his presence in that precious life. He missed seeing me grow up and watching me mature. He missed holidays, birthdays, and programs that I was in. My anger towards not having him in my life used to be my energy. I used that negative energy and got negative results. I fell for peer pressure a number of times and I did things I had no business doing as a young adult. My anger started to defeat me so much that I began to use it as violence, always physically fighting another female or feeling like I had to. The male species was my weakness. Almost every guy who looked good to me, I fell for. I believed in the sweet talk and the moments that were too good to be true until I realized that everything that looked good to me was not good for me. I fought my mom and went against her word for reasons unknown. I took it out on her when she was the one who had never left my side and wanted so much better for me. I let my struggle defeat me. I let my struggle get the best of who I was and I let my struggle stand in front of my possible successes in life.
Like we all can, male and definitely female whom I can relate too, I overcame it. I decided to stop seeking those vulnerabilities and to not keep grudging others because my dad made a few bad decisions in his life. Instead, I fought it with faith and success. My mother had a lot to do with that, being that she instilled morals in me that I decided to live upon. Instead of finding love in the wrong places, I looked to the higher power because I knew that for however long my father would not be around, God would always be there to protect me. I leaned on my faith and I learned that I needed to switch gears. My success became my motivation. If young, African American men and women set goals for themselves, then they will look no further than the intents of the success that they are obtaining. I got involved with youth programs and outreach organizations. I was as active as possible to stay focused on the things that would push me and make me appreciate my struggle. Criticizing and discussing young individuals in similar situations to me is the least that people can do. These young people need to be pushed, motivated, believed in and tried; all things that my mother along with mentors did with me. If no one would see their worth, then they will not see their own worth either. This is a struggle that is not small. This affects every individual differently. To be raised by one brings forth the feeling of feeling as one, alone. To feel like the world is being faced alone is a hard task to complete until one finds the most positive things to face the world with.
They proverb is true; "It takes a village to raise a child", and when a child is put in a compromising situation by the irresponsibility of a parent, then that village has to be summoned with a moral obligation to that child. With programs like the Motivational Foundation, Boys & Girls Club, youth groups etc., a child can have that village. Cities such as Flint should not bash the young people for the mishaps they encounter, but instead should recognize why they are going down the route they are going. Children and young adults do not lack visions, talents, and dreams, they lack motivation. They need power in their potential and strength in their struggles; some of the same things I needed to get where I am today. It is not the moment that one sees that they are struggling, but the moment that one sees that troubles do not last always. It is not always what one has been through, but how they got through it. There is no success with no struggle and when young, African- American women and men, no matter what their situations may or may not be, they will be the forces of the world and change agents of society if we all pull together and become that village.
Please Comment, I think that everyone should read this. I am preparing a workshop and inspirational message behind this. I was deeply moved after I read it, now I pass it along to you. Enjoy!
The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary;
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees... I don't feel threatened.. I don't feel discriminated against.. That's what they are, Christmas trees.
It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.
I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.
Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.
In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different:
This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.
Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her 'How could God let something like this happen?' (regarding Hurricane Katrina).. Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response.. She said, 'I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?'
In light of recent events... terrorists attack, school shootings, etc.. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.
Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about.. And we said okay..
Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'
Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.
Are you laughing yet?
Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.
Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.
My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,
It is a terrible day in America when our women choose to willingly degrade themselves by revealing their bodies, that which is meant to be sacred, as a fashion statement. As I watched this video, I battled the thoughts of an early day slave auction, where the value of men and women was placed in their body and not in their brilliance. In a world of unbound people, the mind is a terrible thing to waste. What do you think about this?
This article was written by a Caucasian person concerning African American people and our unwillingness to read and perpetuate positivity amongst our community. The sad thing about this article is that the essence of it is true. The truth hurts. I just hope this sets more Black people in motion towards making real progress.
THEY ARE STILL OUR SLAVES. We can continue to reap profits from the Blacks without the effort of physical slavery. Look at the current methods of containment that they use on themselves: IGNORANCE, GREED, and SELFISHNESS.
Their IGNORANCE is the primary weapon of containment. A great man once said, "The best way to hide something from Black people is to put it in a book." We now live in the Information Age. They have gained the opportunity to read any book on any subject through the efforts of their fight for freedom, yet they refuse to read. There are numerous books readily available at Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com, not to mention their own Black Bookstores that provide solid blueprints to reach economic equality (which should have been their fight all along), but few read consistently, if at all.
GREED is another powerful weapon of containment. Blacks, since the abolition of slavery, have had large amounts of money at their disposal. Last year they spent 10 billion dollars during Christmas, out of their 450 billion dollars in total yearly income (2.22%). Any of us can use them as our target market, for any business venture we care to dream up, no matter how outlandish, they will buy into it. Being primarily a consumer people, they function totally by greed. They continually want more, with little thought for saving or investing.
They would rather buy some new sneaker than invest in starting a business. Some even neglect their children to have the latest Tommy or FUBU, And they still think that having a Mercedes, and a big house gives them "Status" or that they have achieved their Dream. They are fools! The vast majority of their people are still in poverty because their greed holds them back from collectively making better communities.
With the help of BET, and the rest of their black media that often broadcasts destructive images into their own homes, we will continue to see huge profits like those of Tommy and Nike. (Tommy Hilfiger has even jeered them, saying he doesn't want their money, and look at how the fools spend more with him than ever before!). They'll continue to show off to each other while we build solid communities with the profits from our businesses that we market to them. SELFISHNESS, ingrained in their minds through slavery, is one of the major ways we can continue to contain them. One of their own, Dubois said that there was an innate division in their culture. A "Talented Tenth" he called it. He was correct in his deduction that there are segments of their culture that has achieved some "form" of success. However, that segment missed the fullness of his work. They didn't read that the "Talented Tenth" was then responsible to aid The Non-Talented Ninety Percent in achieving a better life. Instead, that segment has created another class, a Buppie class that looks down on their people or aids them in a condescending manner. They will never achieve what we have. Their selfishness does not allow them to be able to work together on any project or endeavor of substance. When they do get together, their selfishness lets their egos get in the way of their goal. Their so-called help organizations seem to only want to promote their name without making any real change in their community.
They are content to sit in conferences and conventions in our hotels, and talk about what they will do, while they award plaques to the best speakers, not to the best doers. Is there no end to their selfishness? They steadfastly refuse to see that TOGETHER EACH ACHIEVES MORE (TEAM). They do not understand that they are no better than each other because of what they own, as a matter of fact, most of those Buppies are but one or two pay checks away from poverty. All of which is under the control of our pens in our offices and our rooms.
Yes, we will continue to contain them as long as they refuse to read, continue to buy anything they want, and keep thinking they are "helping" their communities by paying dues to organizations which do little other than hold lavish conventions in our hotels. By the way, don't worry about any of them reading this letter, remember, 'THEY DON'T READ!!!!
As I find it a great need to address the plight of the African American male, I must first take into consideration the American in general. For hundreds of years, the African American human being, has learned to adapt to the climate of American living. The generalized American was granted certain amenities to make life more sustainable; the African American went against the societal grain and created his own amenities for mere survival. The African American way of life WAS to CREATE that in which you NEED. Somewhere along the line, we have lost our zeal to create, but the artistry of adaptation has taken root in our lineage and it has branched out into the generation. This is a remarkable trait, one of many, that links us together.
However, this is not enough. It is only through creationism, that we can change the reality that plagues us. It is only through creationism that the great poets of the Harlem Renaissance can transform a Harlem concrete jungle into an artistic haven of pure brilliance. It is only through creationism that African Americans, stuck in the slums and ghettos of major cities across the country, can demand the benefits of self-education and birth forth ingenious activity. Through creationism, we breath on the future of our coming generations and declare greatness over their footsteps. It is only through creationism that YOU make your SURROUNDINGS/ENVIRONMENT become a product of YOU. Adaptation plus creationism is the true foundation of African American existence. What are you creating? and more importantly, what are you allowing yourself to adapt to?
Wake up my people and Peace be upon you all,
Blake E. Odum