We grew up together. Our mothers were line sisters in college so I guess that made him my play brother. He grew up in a two-parent household for most of his formative years. He was the fastest (only black) kid on his soccer team, a member of the Beta Club through middle school and one-fourth comedian. But by the time we reached high school, he became a below average student.
He began to relish in the high that the contents of a Black and Mild could give him. He even put down the soccer ball for a basketball. Even though he only played in his cul-de-sac. I saw him over the holidays and he had a few bible verses tattooed on visible parts of his body. He had dropped out of a state two-year college, and was excited about starting a career in the lucrative entertainment industry. Who is this guy?, I wondered. What happened to my brother?
Seeing him, made me think about a serious issue: What is happening to our black boys, and our black men? How do these men that start with so much potential end up living their semi-adult lives trying to swag surf without producing substantial waves? Where are our brothers?
This would be the part where I lay out the facts about black men representing 40 percent of the nation’s prison population according to the 2005 Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin.
Eight percent of young black men graduate from college compared to 35 percent of Asians, according to the Schott Foundation’s Black Boys Report; Or where I go on to say that the absence of the black fathers has caused black boys to rely on the presence of rap music and reality television to serve as their guides. We all know these statistics have some truth because we experience them, directly or indirectly, every day.
The crisis of the black man knows no bounds. It affects those that live in the most downtrodden neighborhoods of the Southside, to the most posh abodes of Killearn. Nor does the issue escape those with a high school education or seeking for more.
We can attest to knowing the ‘Juniors’ of our families and neighborhoods who grew up with dreams of going to the moon, but some how ended up on house arrest. Even the ‘Juniors’ that may have made it to college, gotten a few letters and a degree, often get up. So much so, that they forget their community needs them.
I thought about my childhood friend and my 16-year-old cousin, another soccer star who is getting out of high school on a wishbone.
I am afraid and trying to figure out how we got here. More importantly, wondering how we can get our black men on the right track.