I guess that it is my fault for not recognizing that there are very few ‘givens’ in this world. And as you well know, if there are very few ‘givens’ in general, there is darn sure absolutely no ‘givens’ when dealing with Black folk. I recently learned this lesson in a most unconventional manner.
While perusing the internet, I came across a horrific video (you can view it here) of a young African-American male, he is not a man yet, who is apparently middle school age, getting into a serious conflict with his teacher, an African-American man. I have no desire to rehash the conflict, as I am certain that you have already clicked on the above link and viewed it for yourself.
As I am known to do with things that could possibly lead into a discussion regarding the present state and predicament of African-American males and men, I shared the video with several Facebook groups that I belong to; the vast majority of them focus upon uplifting African-American males. And I must tell you that many of the responses I received were disconcerting.
The alluded to messages were particularly troubling as they emanated from those who have publicly professed their dedication to mentor and uplift Black boys.
I must be honest in saying that their commentary left me with a feeling that I thought was impossible, we are in bigger trouble than I ever imagined if these are the mentors because there is absolutely no way that a reasonable person could ever believe that these individuals are helping at all. Dare I say, these young boys are being further ushered down what can only be termed an unproductive path?
Many of those who responded to the video partially blamed the teacher.
- “He should have never touched that young man.”
- “When he touched him that meant that it was on!”
- “That teacher deserved to have his ass kicked. I am so tired of them treating our boys like that.”
- “I would have kicked that teachers ass for what he did to him.”
Others excused away the young man’s behavior as merely “a cry for help.”
I was in a word aghast. However, just when I thought that these people could not be any wrong in their analysis, many of them took the opportunity to take me to task for my caption which read as follows:
As an educator, I can tell you that this happens more times than you could ever imagine. Unruly, disrespectful, arrogant, and standoffish, are all words that could be appropriately used to describe the behavior of so many of our youth, male and female, toward educators. Put simply, so many of them, certainly not all, have no home-training and therefore no respect for authority, in whatever form it is presented. Not only is the conduct of this young man deplorable, the commentary and actions of others is likewise morally repugnant. And yet, there will be initiatives to save young people like these, trust me when I say that those initiatives will fail as they are not being built upon anything other than disrespect and a flawed value system. This is a damn shame.
I was quickly advised by several of these ‘mentors’ that if I felt that way, maybe I should quit teaching because Black boys would be much better off not having an educator such as myself. I must relate that I am at such a loss regarding how even the ‘adults’ in our midst have lost their minds and frankly don’t understand these people, their values, their conduct, or their goals.
I am doing something that men who are lost rarely ask for, and that is help in finding my way? I have one simple question. Is it me? Or is it them?
James Thomas Jones III
©Manhood, Race and Culture 2016