Friday, December 5, 2008

"Bad Boyz" Fatigue

The sad, solemn, seemingly endless procession of young and old African American men being constantly carried off to prisons continues while we debate theories of conspiracy, internalized oppression or post-traumatic slavery syndrome, racism, or morals of the black poor and plight of the black family.

And we find ourselves, over and over, taking these trips that start out as trips to the school and the principal’s office because there is trouble at school. Then we are no longer going up to the school, but the procession heads down to the court room. And then finally leads to prison or the cemetery as every year, tens of thousands are funneled into the prison procession and down life paths that lead to arrest, conviction, incarceration and even death.

What has become frightening is that included in this spiraling number are those African Americans of privilege and/or high profile positions in the community including elected officials, athletes, entertainers, and yes - preachers. In all of this, I think that the sign of the times has presented us with a larger picture that begs to be discerned.

The greatest lesson to be learned is NOT that we are are not in a post-racial society. That much is clear. In fact, statistics reveal the injustice of the criminal justice system. And we have marched, shouted, cried, and protested and will continue to do so to point out injustice when necessary. But in spite of the system, we can do better ourselves! A lot of it is on us. A lot of it does not make sense. A lot of it is irresponsibility and immaturity. A lot of this arises out of selfishness and a presumptuousness that black folk will sympathize and stand up for black people right or wrong.

The day of of excuses and sympathy has passed. Folk have moved from what's fair or unfair to trying to survive themselves. So before it is too late, press toward higher goals and new opportunities which present themselves, not giving the judicial system the power or say in our lives to limit or defeat us.

There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.

Julius Ceasar quote by William Shakespeare


MilesPerHour said...

One thing that I have learned being in an interracial relationship is that no matter how sincere I am and how hard I try, I am unable to understand what it is like to be black. I accept that and cannot comment on it.

I can say that as a counselor I teach drug addicts and alcoholics that although they are not always responsible for having an addiction (much of of it is genetic), they ARE responsible to do whatever it takes to keep it in remission.

As an ex-convict whose crimes were committed while under the influence, I understand now that I was still responsible to "do the time".

So Rev, as you suggest, "press toward higher goals and new opportunities which present themselves". It is up to us as individuals to "do the next right thing". I am now sober nearly 2 decades and in that time the policeman and the entire judicial system has not bothered me once. I went out and got a Master's degree. I went out and got the highest credentials and certifications in the field of addiction counseling. Those opportunites came to me and I seized them.

Racism, cultural and gender discrimination and biases will always be around us. Not one of us can sit back and expect things to come to us, we must go after them.

Hey Shae! said...

Excellent post Rev. It's truly devastating to see so many talented black men falling into the prison trap. And you're right, you can't always place the blame on someone else if you're the one who did the crime.

Marvalus said...

This is an excellent post. Raising a young black male is hard enough, without the constant barrage of our adult black males continuing to spiral out of control.

It's scary...

jjbrock said...

Rev great post and I agree 100& with it. As a mother of a child who was determined to go to prison I can understand.

Once I realize through alot of heart ache and pain that it was up to my son too keep himself out of prison I let go of a lot of stuff.

He was getting into so much trouble that I was beginning to look at prison as maybe a life saving thing.

I would comfort my self by saying that Paul did most of his writing from jail that's how desperate I became too see him make it.

My son came from a middle class home but he didn't want that life he always wanted to be a thug.

One day he decided to kick in one of our neighbors door thinking that they wasn't home and got surprise. He was looking for drug money. He didn't get any money but ended up with some time.

Revvy Rev said...

@jj. My prayers are with you. None of us - class, income, profession - are exempt. We all have these situations in our families. And like Miles testified, they have to do it for themselves. We cannot do it for them. Keep praying.

MilesPH: You have a wonderful testimony. I also commend you for using your experiences to help others.

@Shae, Marvalus: Raising young black men/boys ain't no joke! And the glorification of the thug images that they are bombarded with on TV almost make it impossible.

Thank you guys for stopping by. Have a great weekend, get some R&R as well as some spiritual renewal!

Blog Queen said...

Amen Rev....all I can say is I feel every word you've shared in this post and agree wholeheartedly..The buck stops with ME....AMEN

MacDaddy said...

"A lot of this arises out of selfishness and a presumptuousness that black folk will sympathize and stand up for black people right or wrong."
That's what it comes down to. As a former youth and drug counselor, I can't count the number of kids-- black, white, hispanic-- I worked with who felt they could commit any crime they wanted, because it would be erased from their records, once they became 18. Where did they get this from? Their parents. There was this all-consuming feeling that committing crime, that even going to jail for it, wasn't that big a deal. Besides, somebody would vouch for them. Somebody would get them out of deep water... and they would also still have street cred.

Those days are rapidly flying away.