Dear Young African American Males… Straight Talk:
On Mother’s Day I received one of the best gifts, the gift of Courage—Courage to write about something that has been troubling me for quite some time, but was reluctant to because of the uncertainty of how it could be received. So I spent my Mother’s Day making a conscious decision to throw all caution to the wind and write a public letter, because our neighborhoods are becoming like the old west, “Have gun will travel!”
Young men, why are you warring with your brothers? What is the problem, that it can’t be resolved without bloodshed? Did he steal your Air Jordan tennis shoes that you paid over one-hundred dollars? Does he wear his pants farer below his waist than you? Are you frustrated because there isn’t a father present? Are you frustrated because there is a father figure in the home, but not a role model? Have you been reared where the head of the household is the mother, who is angry with a black male and has taken all her disappointments, insecurities, resentments, and anger out on her children, and unknowingly, has transferred her pain to you? Alvin F. Poussaint M.D. said, “Unable to fight back, women can unknowingly transfer their rage toward their sons—just because they are male. Black boys in female-headed households feel the hurt most when the mother is angry with a black male. If they hear their mom yell, “You’re no good, just like your father!” tragically, young men, the pain of those words can be deep-seated and you over-compensate with rage. If you were raised in that type of environment, you are angry and don’t realize the root of your anger. Young men, I realize as parents some of us has missed the mark!
Kudos to Mr. Prentiss Smith a Shreveport resident, who wrote an article on April 17th in Sunday’s Times, “The truth is maybe we can’t handle the truth”. It was so poignant. Mr. Smith said, “The truth is when you have a whole generation of young men and women who have never been parented, who are having children that they don’t know how to parent, you have a prescription for insolence and bad behavior.” We protest and demonstrate about Black lives matter, but when we kill each other does it matter? Or is it more of an acceptance? Have we become so desensitized to the violence that taking one’s life is just as normal as breathing? Are you warring over ownership of turf? Or, are you warring over—Drugs? Whatever your driving force is to this violence, it must stop! Young men, you have a life worth living. Too many Black Americans have fought, and lost their lives for you to have an opportunity. If you’ve gotten frustrated because of the limited opportunities there are for high-school dropouts, you can get your GED and take up a trade. It’s not too late in becoming productive citizens. There is always someone willing to give you a fresh start. Ask Chef Jeff with the television show, “Flip my Food.” He hasn’t always been a chef. He wrote a book titled, “COOKED: From the Streets to the Stove, from Cocaine to Foie Gras” by Jeff Henderson. His compelling life story is so fascinating! You’ll be amazed! It’s very inspiring, and encouragement for you young brothers.
Well Young Men, I would love to have gotten you in a private setting to have this conversation. However, someone had to speak-out. So who better than a seventy-one year old Black woman who has made mistakes herself, who raised two sons in a destructive home environment where one of her two sons is currently incarcerated? In conclusion, my beautiful young Black males you have so much potential. I hope something I’ve said will resonate in your intelligence. Because our jails are overflowing with young black men and the streets of Shreveport will continually be soaked with your blood! … PEACE!!!
Maple Sudds Bernard