Make no mistake about it; there is a significant divide that exists between African-American men. In many ways it is amazing that the alluded to divide that cuts across areas such as educational level, socioeconomic status, political leanings, and religiosity/spirituality has not been commented upon more frequently.
On second thought, maybe it is not all that amazing when one considers that there is an unspoken agreement among African-American males who have found themselves the target of every type of attack imaginable, to not speak about our dirty laundry in public. Those who have wondered why such conversations have not been more prominent should be comforted by the reality that such matters are continuously discussed among ‘the brothers’.
At this late day and time, I find it impossible that we may have people who are ignorant to the plethora of issues facing African-American males. African-American males are facing a bevy of issues such as:
- Escalating Incarceration Rates
- Declining Graduation Rates
- Unparalleled Unemployment Rates
- Unparalleled Divorce Rates
- An Epidemic of Black Children being Raised without Fathers
- School-to-Prison Pipeline
- Prison Industrial Complex
- Black-on-Black Lethal Violence
- And the list could continue into infinity
Despite these innumerable societal pitfalls that so many of ‘the brothers’ have fallen into, there is a significant segment of African-American men who have not fallen prey to such ‘traps’ and have flourished in the same environment that has curtailed, if not destroyed, the lives of so many of their contemporaries.
To this population’s credit, they have stared down and in many ways overcome the pernicious evils that we know as prejudice, discrimination, and racism.
Ironically, the aforementioned success of some African-American males over prejudice, discrimination, and racism serves as the catalyst behind the ever-widening divide that is currently found among Black males. This divide is best expressed by New York City educator Damon Thomas who publicly questions his contemporaries regarding their inability to replicate his success over the aforementioned obstacles. Thomas shared the following critique of this matter, “Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that racism still exists in today’s society. However, I trace much of the present state of Black Males to their personal failings, poor decision-making, and a failure to plan for their, and their children’s, future.”
Thomas is most certainly not alone in his contentions, Columbus, Ohio businessman Eric Morris cites “laziness, foolishness, and silliness” as the actual reasons that so many African-American males are lagging behind educationally, politically, and socially. According to Morris, “There is no other explanation for why some of us have achieved a few things in our lives and others seem to be stuck in the same place. I simply refuse to wallow in pity and let life happen to me, I am the primary determinant in my success and also in my shortcomings and failures. I own both the good and the bad that occurs in my life.”
Individuals such as Morris and Thomas have no problem with addressing the shortcomings of other African-American males for one simple reason. They realize that all persons of African descent, particularly African-American males, are inextricably linked with one another.
According to Thomas, “When these brothers go out into the world and act a fool, it affects each and every one of us. Make no mistake about it; they have severely and permanently damaged what it means to be a Black man. Instead of blackness standing for intelligence, professionalism, and responsibility, these fools have made it stand for the exact opposite.”
Reporter Dan Freeman offered the following commentary regarding this matter. “Although I hate to admit it, I no longer view all ‘brothers’ as ‘brothers’, if you know what I mean. I simply can’t afford to. I really don’t think that any Black man who wishes to accomplish anything has that luxury in today’s society. I have been burned far too many times trying to help my ‘brothers’ out. After a while, you simply decide that it is not worth it; I am certain that a little part of me died at that moment, however, I had to do what was best for me.”
Laying at the center of this rapidly expanding divide among African-American males is the realization that those to whom much has been given, the population that W.E.B. Du Bois would term our ‘talented-tenth’, have tired of dragging along brethren who behave as if they are not only oblivious to the perilous state that their life could be aptly characterized as, but also displaying copious amounts of anger and hatred at those who offer a helping hand.
Little do they know, such assistance will become much and much more rare as we move forward. And that is a reality that none of us should be proud of.
James Thomas Jones III, Ph.D., M.A., M.A., M.A.
©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016