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Commentary: Raising African-American boys requires love and patience

Commentary: Raising African-American boys requires love and patience
February 15
03:00 2018

Raising African-American boys requires love and patience.

The behavior of African-American males by some has always been called into question.  Adjectives like intimidating, aggressive and rude have been labels that have been affixed to us for as long as I can remember.  It seems at times in today’s one-strike-and-you-are-out society that these aforementioned adjectives trump our education and our socio-economic status. 

It is said by some that no matter the education, the wealth or fame that we as black men achieve, we are all placed in the same gumbo of indifference.  I have often wondered why we carry this cross of un-forgiveness and misunderstanding.  Growing up in the South, my parents wanted for me what all parents, black or white, wanted for their children and that was for me to be successful.  This attainment of success was also coupled with a code of civilized behavior.  In some ways, I believe black parents back in the day thought that appropriate behavior was just as important as being successful.  I believe their thinking was that it didn’t matter how successful you were if you didn’t know how to behave. We had to have home training (HT).  In fact, I am not sure that you can have one without the other.  There was really an unspoken rule in my neighborhood that said you represented your family, your neighborhood and yourself.  For example, having it said in the neighborhood that you committed some infraction was simply unthinkable.  There was a time during my elementary school days that I used some inappropriate language.  Word spread in the neighborhood and I was completely ashamed.  It never happened again. 

African-American parents and grandparents who are raising African-American boys face some particular challenges in the new millennium.  It seems to me that there should be some “old school” rules implemented. 

First off, black boys must know who is in charge, and it is not them.  We as African-American parents cannot compromise on discipline. 

We must be parents and not friends to our male children.  African-American boys need nurturing from their mothers and guidance and discipline from their fathers.   I can remember when your parents said “No” and the answer was “No!”  There was no equivocating on the answer no. 

Black parents back in the day did not have to explain themselves.  Go back to the old school!  The expression it takes a village to raise a child was practiced back in the day.  I was chastised by adults in my East Winston neighborhood of Winston-Salem even before I got home for my transgressions. 

We must become more visible in our schools as volunteers.  If we want to know what is happening in our schools then we must go and find out.  Put on a school badge and volunteer your time.  You will feel good and your child will feel better. 

The library was a staple in my neighborhood.  We must foster and promote reading in our homes.  Lastly but most importantly we as African-American parents must ensure that our boys have a spiritual foundation.  Sundays must return to the Sundays of old when we went to church and had dinner together as a family.  We can change the prognosis for our black boys if we go back to the “old school.”

James B. Ewers  Jr. Ed.D. is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator.  He can be reached at ewers.jr56@nullyahoo.com.

The behavior of African-American males by some has always been called into question.  Adjectives like intimidating, aggressive and rude have been labels that have been affixed to us for as long as I can remember.  It seems at times in today’s one-strike-and-you-are-out society that these aforementioned adjectives trump our education and our socio-economic status.

It is said by some that no matter the education, the wealth or fame that we as black men achieve, we are all placed in the same gumbo of indifference.  I have often wondered why we carry this cross of un-forgiveness and misunderstanding.  Growing up in the South, my parents wanted for me what all parents, black or white, wanted for their children and that was for me to be successful.  This attainment of success was also coupled with a code of civilized behavior.  In some ways, I believe black parents back in the day thought that appropriate behavior was just as important as being successful.  I believe their thinking was that it didn’t matter how successful you were if you didn’t know how to behave. We had to have home training (HT).  In fact, I am not sure that you can have one without the other.  There was really an unspoken rule in my neighborhood that said you represented your family, your neighborhood and yourself.  For example, having it said in the neighborhood that you committed some infraction was simply unthinkable.  There was a time during my elementary school days that I used some inappropriate language.  Word spread in the neighborhood and I was completely ashamed.  It never happened again. 

African-American parents and grandparents who are raising African-American boys face some particular challenges in the new millennium.  It seems to me that there should be some “old school” rules implemented. 

First off, black boys must know who is in charge, and it is not them.  We as African-American parents cannot compromise on discipline. 

We must be parents and not friends to our male children.  African-American boys need nurturing from their mothers and guidance and discipline from their fathers.   I can remember when your parents said “No” and the answer was “No!”  There was no equivocating on the answer no. 

Black parents back in the day did not have to explain themselves.  Go back to the old school!  The expression it takes a village to raise a child was practiced back in the day.  I was chastised by adults in my East Winston neighborhood of Winston-Salem even before I got home for my transgressions. 

We must become more visible in our schools as volunteers.  If we want to know what is happening in our schools then we must go and find out.  Put on a school badge and volunteer your time.  You will feel good and your child will feel better. 

The library was a staple in my neighborhood.  We must foster and promote reading in our homes.  Lastly but most importantly we as African-American parents must ensure that our boys have a spiritual foundation.  Sundays must return to the Sundays of old when we went to church and had dinner together as a family.  We can change the prognosis for our black boys if we go back to the “old school.”

James B. Ewers  Jr. Ed.D. is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator.  He can be reached at ewers.jr56@nullyahoo.com.

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