I was recently asked to give a presentation on The State of African American Men. It is customary for me, during professional speaking engagements, to break down the beliefs we have held all our lives, those notions we have come to accept as truth. I do that because so many times, without our knowledge or consent, these ideas limit our thinking and stunt our potential.

The state of Black men today is typically viewed from a negative point of view. It is easy for anyone, including Black males, to get the false impression that nearly all of us are deadbeat dads, career criminals, pathetic partners or just downright lazy and uneducated.

An old African proverb states: “Until the lions have their own historian, tales of hunting will always glorify the hunter.” Black men and women must begin to celebrate and give voice to the right, to the good, to the positive among us. Just as there is a need to “save” Black males that are “at-risk,” there is also a need to support and sing the praises of Black males who are at home, at school, at work and at their children’s sides making a positive and powerful difference.

Today’s youth need to see not just historical figures but present-day Black role models who are doing great things with their lives. And they need to see seeds of hope sown by a culture that is for them, not against them.

You may have heard it said that there are more Black males in prison than there are in college. Let’s dissect that a little, so we are really comparing apples to apples. Between the ages of 18 and 24, there are 532,000 Black males enrolled in college. In that same age range, there are 193,000 Black males incarcerated. Education is empowerment, and we need to encourage Black men to seek higher education. Not only that, we need to support them when they get there and when they get out, to ensure their long-term success and the success of the students who will come after them.

African American men have climbed to and broken the glass ceiling in corporate America. We have African American CEO’s running Fortune 500 companies, and arguably the most powerful man in the world is an African American male.

To plant seeds of hope, we must:

  • Focus on what is right instead of what is wrong.
  • Stop complaining about what we permit.
  • Stop allowing the streets, television, video games, music and the internet to influence and shape our minds and the minds of our nation’s young people.
  • Envision a promising future and move toward it with confidence and purpose.
  • Remember and pass along the stories of Black male achievement.
  • Identify and reach out to at least one Black male and become a positive influence to him.
  • Intentionally model for our youth what it means to be a man: providing, protecting and loving our family, friends and community; and living with character, values, discipline and ambition that will light the path of those to come after us.

re-S.H.A.P.E. the future. TM

Clifford Bailey
speaker, change agent, CEO of TechSoft Systems, Inc.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 1st, 2010 at 2:17 pm and is filed under Change Management, Community Development, Leadership, S.H.A.P.E.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.