Our Young Black Men

I am currently writing an article on the ancient Egypt and the influence it had in Greek Philosophy. The reason that I am writing the paper is because I am in a running debate on the current status of the black community. In the past three weeks two incidents have occurred that I believe define the problem that is facing the black community.

The first situation involves the murder of Washington Redskins player, Sean Taylor. Apparently, Sean Taylor was killed by several young men that he was familiar with. News accounts suggest that one of the men worked on Mr. Taylor’s lawn and another young man charged is the cousin of a man that is dating Sean Taylor’s sister. So, this was not a random break-in. They were aware of the contents of his home and a simple burglary turned into murder.

The second incident occurred here on the University of Chicago campus. Three young men, all under the age of 20, went of a robbery spree. They robbed several students when they happened up on Amadou Cissie and after robbing him, shot him in the chest. Amadou had just defended his dissertation was to receive his doctorate in chemistry.

What is similar in both of these cases is the fact that both involved teenagers are young men. At some point we are going to have to address this issue in a substantial way. This past summer a group of angry African Americans protested after a police officer shot and killed a young man. At the same time, the neighborhood was reeling from a series of shootings that left over seven young people dead. The only emotion displayed by the community was a vigil.

How is it that we react so angrily when a police officer takes the life of a black child but have no reaction when young black people slaughter themselves? It’s time out for talking. Marching is an inadequate response. In the hours before and after school there should be two black men on every corner within a mile of every school. We should have volunteer security guards at the parks and walking the neighborhoods. Every block should have a block club. We should develop a “Rights of Passage” tradition that will transition boys to men.

It is not that we should ignore police brutality but we should not focus on that issue to the detriment of our ability to recognize the self-inflicted wounds.


2 Responses to Our Young Black Men

  1. Interested Says:
    Mr. Manning...
    I support your idea of creating 'a rite of passage' for our young boys. I am a single mother of three, the oldest - 16 and the youngest 13. I have always known that as a woman, I can only do so much. I cannot teach them how to be men. I can only teach them how to take care of themselves and how to treat women. Unfortunately, their father is deceased, but he wasn't a very good role model anyway.
    At present, I am dating a wonderful man who shares your same name - first and last (we are in TX). My James is struggling to get my young'men' to understand 'how' to become a MAN. AND yes, it is a struggle for me as a mother to loosen the reigns so James CAN teach them.
    We as a people has so many dynamics to overcome before we can get to the real issues of our young... Man, it will be something if a program CAN be created to assist our young.
    Apologies if I am rambling...I'm suffering from a loss of sleep...
  2. James Manning Says:
    With teenage boys the best approach is to not teach them but to guide them. He will first have to earn their respcect that best way to do that is to listen to them. Offer only slight suggestions in the beginning then give more as they open up. It's possible they may never open to him but if they believe he cares, he has a better shot at it. Good luck.