Today is the first in a Friday Hot Topic Series concerning the issues that are affecting our African-American boys. I call it a hot topic series because there has been some chatter about the increasing concerns. As we will observe in this post, however, it is one thing to look at or talk about an issue, but it is another thing to determine the proper way to respond. The current reality is that in so many ways African-American boys in this country are simply being tossed aside and ignored.
For Part I of this series, I will simply highlight some (though not all) of the critical issues plaguing these young men. In the September 2010 issue of Ebony magazine, President Obama is interviewed concerning the education of our nation. Ebony opens the article with these staggering facts:
“Nationwide, three out of every 10 students dropout of out high school. For Blacks, that number is near half – and growing. Further, it is estimated that every school day, a Black male student drops out of high school. That’s enough students to fill two classrooms every hour and an entire high school each week.”
The article goes on to highlight how this problem has an adverse effect on our economy, violence, and other American values.
According to the “Yes We Can: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males 2010, only 47 percent of black males graduated from high school in the 2007-2008 school year.” Additionally according to the report, the best scores for black males in the eighth grade who read at or above the proficiency level was 15 percent.
Why should this issue concern you and why talk about it here?
Picture the end of the road for a black male who cannot read – He will either become a criminal or he will require significant government assistance (i.e. your hard earned tax payer dollars). And finally, if he does not end up dead or on drugs, he is going to jail frequently. “According to a report by the Justice Policy Institute in 2002, the number of black men in prison has grown from five times the rate it was twenty years ago. In 2002 there were 791,600 black men in prison and 603, 032 enrolled in college.” Your tax dollars pays for the housing, clothing, and feeding of jail inmates too. These are only the self-centered reasons to pay attention to this series.
From the bleeding heart of one Christian, this issue demands an answer to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” The Good Samaritan story in Luke 10: 25-37 gives us a clear response. In these scriptures we first observe two “Godly” men knowingly pass by a man who was wounded and in need. The Samaritan “unchurched person” stops to carefully access the man’s situation. He emphasizes with the wounded man’s situation, and then he immediately takes action to restore this man to his proper position. No only that, the Samaritan was consistent in the service that he provided to the wounded man. Jesus’ response is that we are to go and do like this Samaritan did.
The issues affecting African-American boys is not only the African-American community’s problem; this is America’s problem. While completing freshmen training at the Naval Academy, we were required to learn the twenty seven “Laws of the Navy.” The fifth law states: “On the strength of one link in the cable, Dependeth the might of the chain, Who knows when thou mayest be tested? So live that thou bearest the strain!” We are only as strong in a community as our weakest link. I Corinthians Chapter 12 states that we should treat the weakest among us with special honor.
In no way am I implying that all African-American boys are weak and uneducated criminals. On the contrary – There are many African-American boys that have grown into strong, Godly, educated men of good character. I will feature several of them in this series, and they will identify some solutions and ways that we can offer a way up for African American boys.
After all, what do I know about being an African-American male in this country? This is enough to think about until we meet here again for Part Two: Make an Impact – Share Jesus on next Friday. Blessings, Natasha