Within African-American communities and neighborhoods, black males set the tone for much of what does and do not occur. Under optimal conditions, black men have served as providers and protectors for the African-American women and children in their midst. The benefits of being a provider and protector served as the wind beneath the wings of the soaring manhood that was the very essence of black men.
During times past, it appeared that the vast majority of African-American men took their job of modeling manhood with the utmost seriousness. It was impossible to listen to the life-lessons that these men shared or observe their daily dealings with an invariably hostile white populace and not understand that the primary job of black men was to protect and provide for your family in a host of ways.
One thing is for certain, the men of my father’s generation, although far from perfect, had a well-developed sense of ‘what a man ought to be and ought to do.’ In the face of unbridled occupational discrimination and unending prejudice, the alluded to men were unshakable pillars of their community. Unfortunately for the entire black community, it appears as if those pillars have gradually faded away. More troubling is the reality that there are too few replacements for the men who displayed our grandest manhood traditions.
A person needs to look no further than the ‘Windy City’ to understand the remarkable changes that have occurred to African-American manhood over the past half-century. With the benefit of hindsight, it is evident that the most expeditious path to the unraveling of any community is for its men to lose their understanding of ‘what a man ought to do and ought to be.’ The present state of Black America proves that when critical masses of males abandon steep manhood traditions, things fall apart. The “Windy City” is a notable example of such an occurrence.
There may be no more succinct representation of the pernicious evils occurring in Chicago than residents abandoning its traditional moniker of the ‘Windy City’ for a much foreboding ‘Chiraq’; a play on words that likens the great American city to the war-torn nation of Iraq.
At this moment, Chicagoans of every hue, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, faith, and political affiliation are debating what should be done to save the “Windy City” from roguish African-American males whose toxic manhood is damaging everyone around them. Make no mistake about it, the actions of black males whose propensity for the Black-on-Black crime makes the Capone Era look like child’s play, sit at the core of the “Windy City’s” problems.
Considering the historical conflicts between the African-American community and ‘the boys in blue,’ Black Chicagoans find themselves in an ironic quandary. Should they turn to local law enforcement officers for aid in addressing lawless black males or is there a better in-house solution to this dilemma?
Up to this point, many African-Americans throughout the nation have refused to seek redress via law enforcement agencies out of fear of retribution and a desperate desire to not contribute to the incarceration of African-American males that Michelle Alexander so powerfully details in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.
There are significant sections of Black America that are disturbed by any assertion that the path to peace is the removal and warehousing of black males in this nation’s penitentiaries. However in a city that witnessed,
- 713 Killed by gunfire
- 3665 Wounded by gunfire
- 4378 Shot
Most agree that something definitive must occur.
The majority of Black America has rightfully tired of this sordid tale of African-American males choosing to live wayward lives that accomplish nothing more than increasing the dilemmas they face in America at an unconscionable rate.
What can be done to address this dilemma? One thing that will most certainly not positively affect this issue are calls to absolve a criminal segment of Black America from being responsible for their actions by citing typical dodges such as squalor, inferior educational institutions, urban decay, and limited economic opportunities. The above explanations, although important to understanding the daily realities found within the vast majority of impoverished African-American enclaves, do not provide the lawless permission for their criminality and uncivilized behavior.
A more productive path to ameliorating the issues facing black males is for the African-American community to address the matters facing black males via manhood training proactively.
Yes, it is the time that we return ‘back to basics’ by teaching African-American males the basics of ‘what a man ought to be and ought to do.’ It is in understanding the path and many obstacles that prior generations of black men confronted and conquered that vital life lessons are discovered. I am certain that the tools the alluded to men used were basic tools such as:
Unfortunately for wayward black males, until they are socialized to understand that the above qualities are the path to their liberation and not get rich quick criminal schemes that invariably lead to either the penitentiary or the grave, there is no hope. Cities such as Chiraq have definitively proven this fact.
The time to take control of our destiny is now and the path forward begins with manhood training that paves the path for black males to become African-American men.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017