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Black Men Have Failed Our Boys
11/27/2013 8:51:27 PM

By Barney Blakeney

Last week I wrote a column about Black mothers and the impact they might have on Black on Black crime if they were to step up to the plate and demand something different of their bad behind boys.

From the outset I got an argument from female friends who insisted that Black men have as much responsibility to young Black males as their mothers. I don’t disagree with that.

My point simply is that mothers are about as close to children as anyone ever could be. And maybe, just maybe, our boys might listen to their mothers if those mothers stepped outside the box to teach their sons values that steer them away from criminal activities.

I don’t want to get into which parent has the most responsibility in raising their boys. I think they’re both equally responsible and each has something unique to offer. I’ve seen men raise good daughters by themselves and women raise good sons by themselves.

Still, when it comes to the issue of Black on Black crime and its toll on young Black males, I think Black mothers must do a better job. Unquestionably Black men also have to step up to the plate.

And while mothers have a special bond with their children, I don’t think there’s any way to verbally express how men feel about their sons. There’s a feeling of accomplishment just in making a boy baby. But so many of us fail to see the job through to completion.

They say you’re not a father when you make a baby. You become a father when you raise a baby.

I once had a conversation with a man who helped raise me. He said one of his darkest moments in life was the day a judge sentenced his son to prison time. He would have paid any amount of money to prevent that, he said.

Fortunately, his son didn’t have to spend a lot of time in prison. I’ve talked to the son, prison was an experience he doesn’t want to repeat. He’s a good kid who works hard and takes care of his business.

I think a lot of our sons get caught up in these days and times. These are times when it’s easier for a young Black male to sell illegal drugs than get a legitimate job. For many, that’s the culture in which they live. A lot of young Black males run afoul of the law just trying to live in the culture of their environment. Most aren’t bad guys, just guys with few options.

I think my generation of Black men have failed the last two generations of Black males.

I grew up surrounded by Black men who taught me stuff. My coming of age was filled with Black men who used every opportunity to help me become a happy and productive man.

Even when I was doing stuff I had no business, there were older men who guided me. Old man Irving Brown, whom I worked with as an orderly at Charleston County Memorial Hospital back in the day, schooled me about women and whiskey before I had any real knowledge of either.

I was a high school kid at the time. Those old guys knew my dad had just died and they acted as surrogate fathers to me as I grew into manhood. Old guys like Mr. Ralston Francis who lived across the street from my mom scolded, guided and supported me.
And there were young cats like David whom I worked with as a student work-study employee at the Russell House cafeteria at USC while in college.

David was a little older than me. I guess he was in his late 20s or early 30s, a native Columbian working at the cafeteria. Every now and then he’d say something to boost my confidence as a young man.

And Nehemiah McRant whom I also met while in college. Mac, as we called him, just took me under his wing. We worked together at Owens Steel in Cayce one summer. He treated me like a younger brother, even protecting me when others tried to tear me down.

These were men who had nothing to gain from befriending me. It was just something Black men did for each other.

Somehow, my era/generation of Black men failed to fulfill that obligation to the younger group of Black men coming up behind us.

And because we failed to teach them, they have been unable to teach those coming behind them. Now I watch young Black men two generations behind me kill each other.

No, sister girls. I wasn’t trying last week to say Black men don’t have a responsibility in raising and teaching young Black males their proper roles in our community. I was trying to say Black mothers may do a better job.

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