Let’s Get Our Priorities Straight

African American news from Pasadena - Editorial - getting priorities straight - community and youthBill Di Blasio, the newly elected mayor of New York, is married to Chirlane McCray. They have two children. Thomas Jefferson had children by Sally Hemming. Strom Thurmond had children by his family’s maid. Bill Cohen, former senator from Maine and Secretary of Defense, married news reporter Janet Langhart. In case you didn’t know, each of the above mentioned women are Black and the men are White. So what’s the point? This should be of little concern as the world continues to move on.

This week I heard a few of my friends say that President Obama lied about the insurance debacle and they were thinking of changing their support for him. Bill Maher pointed out on his show that supreme court Chief Justice Roberts and his conservative cohorts on the court changed the voting rights bill. That reversal let the southern states go wild on running back to segregation days when Blacks couldn’t vote. This time, the court’s ruling also keeps young college students and senior citizens from voting. The Roberts court also approved the People United case which let conservatives run wild raising money from unknown sources to defeat liberal causes.

We need to be working on reversing the Roberts court rulings instead of worrying about who’s marrying whom or who our vetted police shot twenty or thirty years ago. The court’s rulings are destroying many young African Americans’ ability to go to school or get training for a decent job. Also, it’s the entertainment industry promoting negative rap and supporting our youth in making so-called music that destroys all that the old-timers taught us was right. With the conservatives working overtime to turn back the clock, what can and should we be doing to help our children, and especially our boys?

This past weekend I was part of a NAACP panel in Lancaster discussing our rights. What bothered me was, there we were, a bunch of old timers talking about civil rights, but where were the young people? More specifically, where were the boys? We do not see many youth in many of our events, unless we go out and fight to bring them in.

Back in Pasadena, my wife and her sorority (AKA) were on the case with their annual “Sister Chat” event. They gathered a group of African American high school girls together with a group of African American men and women to talk about issues facing girls today. The topics included relationships and what boys want from girls and how to deal with them. Professional men and women sacrificed one day from their busy schedules to invest time for these girls. The men and women represented many professions including a nurse, therapists, health care professionals, a social worker, police officer, teachers, lawyers, a technology expert and human relations director.

In Lancaster, no one wanted to talk about the “bad behavior of the boys.” They wanted to talk about the bad behavior of the cops. The problem for me is that the cops aren’t going to jail or prison for their behavior. It’s our kids and our money being taken out of our communities when they get arrested to hire lawyers and bail bondsmen.

Ironically, no one in many of our communities talk enough about positive things that boys are doing in school or what colleges they are headed to. The choices are clearly stated by Homeboy Industries when they say, “JOBS NOT JAILS.” That’s something they all should aspire to! Unfortunately, not many are focusing on our boys or doing anything positive about the hopeless situations many of them face such as gangs, drugs, violence, dropping out of school, jail and death. Of the few organizations who reach out to our young men to address these issues, not enough is being done. They need more of our support.

One good investment would be to buy books and insist on reading. Reading will prepare them for a job. Rapping and mocking the gangster rappers in their jailhouse dress-style and negative language will prepare them for jail. And if they are stopped by the cops, they need to keep their mouth shut! That’s the time when a lawyer should be called in. But many of them can’t wait to tell their story. They’re wasting their breath. The more they talk, the more the cop can write in the report. What they say can and often is used against them and messes up the help the lawyer could have given them.

The saying for our boys each week should be a question: “What new (legal) skill have I learned this week and how much money can I make using the new skill?” With limited jobs out there, they need skills and not so much mouth.