The need to pose this question speaks to the carefully crafted disenfranchisement of Black boys and Black men in the United States.
To add insult to injury, Black men and Black women are yoked with additional grief, struggles, and unforeseen challenges of parenting simply because of the hue of their skin.
“Layered” parenting is in full effect in the rearing of Black boys and our desire to get them to adulthood. We incessantly and vehemently impress upon the youth our desire for them to be productive, law-abiding, civic-minded, educated, loving, caring individuals within a “civilized” society.
Our primary order of instructions shall be to introduce them to themselves, clearly articulating to them that, unfortunately, they are responsible for learning two sets of rules in this America, and that the acquisition of this knowledge is imperative to their survival. Sadly, present and past history have shown this to be true: America has failed miserably to accept its responsibility of adhering to only ONE set of “rules” for ALL of her inhabitants, regardless of their modes of transportation to these shores.
As we employ our instructional pedagogy, we shall instruct them that documented history addresses the fact that Africans—more precisely, members of the Swahili tribes:
- were sailing the oceans and bartering with “Native-Americans” thousands of years pre-arrival of the Mayflower;
- were influential thousands of years later to the Europeans out of England, Ireland, Italy etc., in their humongous exodus as they risked life and limb to reach Ellis Island to flee religious and other forms of percussion and oppression;
- were sailing the oceans and bartering with “Native-Americans” thousands of years before their African descendants boarded that unscheduled and unwelcomed cruise aboard the “good ship,” “Jesus.”
Our Black sons must know, that no matter how much their fellow “Americans” espouse to them that they “have the same opportunities as everyone else to succeed if they apply and behave themselves,” that these words, uttered by many as facts, are fraught with prejudice intertwined with undertones of deception and innuendos of ill intention. They shall understand, however, that they will not be allowed to use these situations as “crutches.”
Further instructions shall assist him in understanding that if he did not live in an America with two (2) sets of rules there would be no need for; (a)The Voting Rights Act, (b) affirmative action, (c) Supreme court interventions, relative to being suspended from school because of; his hair texture (d) the style in which he is “permitted” to wear it (e) “if” he wants to be gainfully employed (f) if he desires to be viewed as a law-abiding citizen, the list is infinite.
He must be taught that in these Americas, he will often be seen as the enemy for believing in and expressing himself as a Black boy or a Black man and sadly, he may be labeled as being unpatriotic because he has pride in himself and his forefathers.
He must be taught to be strong in the face of adversity and to be a thinker as he learns to infer, process, and decipher information. He must learn NOT to apologize for his existence, be eloquent in his speech, dogmatic about becoming highly educated, and refuse to allow anyone to distort his knowledge, wisdom, and vision of who he is and who his ancestors were.
He must be taught that hatred ruins him as a person and thwarts his intrinsic growth. He must understand that to love himself does NOT mean that he must hate others.
He must understand that his plight is not only to protect himself, but to revere and to respect his spouse and children, to create a positive legacy, to be and to remain a teacher of true and authentic history and fully understand that he is a descendant of kings and queens and not “some thing” that washed upon these hallowed shores to be spat upon, loathed and dehumanized by those who do not know who they are and what their purposes are as it relates to simply being human.
Melvin “Chief” Lars
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