Letters to Empower Young Black men: Keep ya Heads Up
Dear young brother,
How was school today? I noticed I saw you on the block about 12:30 or so. Wait a minute, doesn’t school get out at 2:00? So what are you doing out so early? Come to think of it I saw you out around the same time twice last week. You were on the corner wearing your black North face jacket, patent leather red and black (Bread 11) Jordans, and Levi’s jeans sagged a little below your waist waiting patiently for the next customer to come by and get served. What happened to you? Where is your dad? I thought you two reconciled and repaired your broken relationship.
Why do you feel the need to be out here on these mean streets full of predators? You are not about that lifestyle. You were once an Honor Roll student who usually cleaned up at the awards ceremonies. You were a star on the varsity basketball team who led your team to a city championship. I remember your mother telling me you even had recruits from UNC, Georgetown, & UCLA coming to your games. Did you suddenly lose interest? Meanwhile, she has been called up to the school several times due to your declining attendance and poor grades, and each time she cried because she felt so helpless.
You have two younger siblings. What example are you setting for them? Apparently the streets have taken over you and your family and there’s no turning back.
Dear young brother,
Wassup witchu? How’s work coming? Yeah I was thinking about you the other day because you were telling me how you had to pick up a second job working the grave yard shift. You said you had to now, because your child’s mother got you for child support although you were already giving her $450 a month to take care of Khalil. And you haven’t seen him in over a month since she started getting more serious with her new boyfriend.
It was really messed up how you made plans to get him for his birthday and spend that time with him that weekend. Things didn’t go as planned because you and her got into an argument, so she used him as leverage and you wound up not seeing him. I also remember you told me that the times you called to speak with him you’ve been getting either a dial tone or “He’s busy”. The one time you were so “lucky” to talk to him for 2 minutes, he had to go.
So you’re telling me you work two eight-hour jobs to take care of your bills, pay $700 a month in support, and you can’t even see him? And because of your hectic work schedule, you don’t really have a life of your own. I’d also be remiss if I mentioned you’re getting little if any sleep. You should have asked for joint custody but I understand where you’re coming from. Everything before was on a handshake agreement and you saw him whenever, but just when you think you know someone, you really don’t.
I know you have a lot on your plate, but keep your head up, things will get better. Always remember God doesn’t sleep and you’ll get your blessings. Just stay positive.
Dear young brother,
Hey how’s it going? Yo when I was coming out of the parking lot, I saw a nice car pull up and I saw your girl getting out of the passenger side. I started to say to myself, “Check out this fool, he movin on up and got some nice wheels”. I then noticed a man who looked nothing like you getting out the driver’s side door. Hold on, didn’t you tell me she was staying in to study for her exam?
As a matter of fact you also mentioned she had random guys communicating with her on Facebook, and when you’ve asked her about all these men she becomes defensive. She would say that they’re her friends; and although you two reconciled she did cheat on you once before with you giving her several chances along the way. I know you guys have been together for a while but you have put a lot into this relationship. If she can’t see you for the person you are, then it’s not worth it; not to mention the fact that you are helping her take care of her son as if he were your own.
It’s plain to see you may need to move on and spare yourself the drama and heartache that awaits, especially if she becomes pregnant by you.
Dear young brother,
I hope this letter reaches you in the best of health and spirits. How’s life since you’ve been out? I remember how funny it was when you and I went to the sub shop a few weeks back; you were lost as to what to order and how you wanted it. Remember when the lady asked you what condiments you wanted on your sub? You paused because you were so used to being told what and when you will eat. I know it’s tough getting back on your feet and getting re acclimated to society.
Although your wife is still around, it seems like in the 12 years you were gone your family has outgrown you and life has seemingly passed you by. It’s tough for you to connect with your now 14 -year- old son and your 12-year-old daughter who you missed the birth of. You have been on 7 job interviews the last month and because of your record you were turned down for all of them. What to do?
Despite your temptations to go back to the streets there’s no place for a 32-year-old man. It’s tougher now, and you are the old lion compared to the young and hungry 16 and 17 year olds that patrol the jungle. And now you’ve been given a second chance at life, it’s imperative you do not blow it.
I’m sure many of you know people in these situations.
A wise man once told me as a minority man in society once you are born you already have two strikes against you and they’re waiting to call that third strike. People out there claim to be conspiracy theorists, but in the eyes of many there is a conspiracy to keep black men behind bars while keeping the black home separated and devoid of any male presence. It’s the ‘divide and conquer’ strategy. On the flip side, I have always said before, we as men need to be more responsible and conscious of our young ones as they will be our future. We need to set positive examples and lead CONstructive not DEstructive lifestyles.
In the meantime, I implore you to be more conscientious of who your partner is so you don’t end up like Khalil’s dad. Still, learn to respect our women. And ladies you aren’t off the hook either. Respect and appreciate our men as opposed to emasculating them simply because you aren’t getting what you want or he’s not where you want him to be yet.
In regards to respecting our women, I know many of you [men] will say, “Well, they have to earn it”. While there are ‘not so nice’ women out there, I’d like you to consider this: How many videos out there portray white women that way? Far and few. Why is it different with our sisters though? Why must they be the ones selling their bodies, souls, and reputations for a dollar? Although I’ve beaten the housewife shows and the Evelyn Lozada’s of the world worse than the proverbial dead horse, look no further than Karrine Stefans (who was an adult entertainer and video vixen) and Carmen Bryan. They are two young black women who even wrote books flaunting their sexual exploits with celebrities while aiding in the destruction of marriages just for a buck.
As far as our brothers are concerned, we’re our own genocide. It’s a known fact that a very high percentage of our lives are taken by another African American man. As a legendary hip hop artist once said, “They say it’s the white man I should fear, but it’s our own kind doin’ all the killing here”. He couldn’t have said it any better.
Title update on 01/15/19. Post Originally entitled, “Keep ya heads up: Letters to the Brothas”