By: William Jackson
Chinua Achebe, “We cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own.” The Igbo, always practical, put it concretely in their proverb: Onye ji onye n’ani ji onwe ya: “He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down.” The Education of a British-Protected Child: Essays
“Fathers, it is time to lift our children, our families, our culture, our communities from the mud
of poverty, death and destruction.” William Jackson – My Quest To Teach.
Watching the media and the continued deaths of young men and young women, fathers have a choice to be a blessing or a curse to their children, to embed humanity into their process of raising their families. To lead them to a life of safety and growth or condemn them to potential sentences of poverty, lack of educational success and a societal voice of silence. Fathers are supposed to be the foundation, the rock that their families can stand on during the storms of life and the challenges that they will face. The national deaths by violence of children of color and culture are a signal that too many fathers are not doing their jobs, importantly too many men are not parenting, fathering, guiding and mentoring. Too many are talking, their lips are moving, but their feet and hearts are standing still. There is work to do in their communities, but too many fathers are counter productive and adding to the troubles their communities are facing.
Fathers are influential in the social and educational directions of their children, they set the tones for social interaction, establishing the direction of their children and others around them, growing and developing the social skills and humbleness that boys and girls developing into men and women will need. Children are modeling their father’s activities, mentalities, their lack of compassion and lack of sensitivities to their children. The father is the model whether at home or not, looking at the communities of color and culture too many fathers are not involved or do not care.
Social skills are not just necessary social requirements; they are the patterns of behaviors for survival that boys and girls of color and culture will need to know in order to grow in a society that is still struggling with boys and girls of diversity and color. The directions of life take many twists and turns for youth especially African American youth, this is NOT another hate the system or hate the government blog, nor is it a blog on what the educational system is not accomplishing.
This blog addresses the responsibilities of “Men in the Village” to re-evaluate and re-prioritize their thinking and to be of service to their communities.
The great Nigerian author Chinua Achebe through his writings tries to teach men that positive emotions to their children are beneficial and “do not fear being thought weak as a man” because men show emotions, they should to establish a connection with their families.
Men have a right that extends to the accountability and responsibility to be involved in their children’s educational growth and development. How can hundreds if not thousands of men attend sporting events in support of their children, but cannot consistently volunteer, visit, mentor, support their children’s schools that are preparing them for life in this nation? Achebe shares, “(fathers) do not show any human emotions and sentiments so as not to be seen as weak,” are creating un-caring societies where children are forgetting the value of love, compassion, sympathy and honor. Men do not have to cry to show emotions, but should hug and kiss their children, hold their hands and provide emotional support and mental comfort just as African men have done for centuries.
How many men can blame the State Attorney’s Office and law enforcement if they won’t “man up” handling their “business” and parental responsibilities in raising their children? Prisons are not Day Cares, Learning Centers, Enrichment Organizations; how many men can blame the school district if they have not started the process of educating their children in the basics of reading, math and social behaviors at home that allow for education in a formal setting to start. Learning starts at home and fathers need to be responsible for this happening.
The streets, back alleys, street corners and clubs of our communities will teach skills that will lead to death or prison as seen in children today, what real father can be proud of that? Fathers need to be involved in a dialogue that teaches with love and wisdom, young fathers need help. Matt Thompson of the Jacksonville Children’s Commission asks an important question: How can young fathers cope in this dialogue Fathers Dealing With Challenges.
Fathers should be seen with their children in public libraries and in museums because libraries should be full during Saturdays with fathers sharing the empowerment to educational and cultural resources.
Children should be seen holding their fathers hands, sitting on their laps and involved in activities that build critical thinking skills, encourage problem solving abilities and promote higher order thinking that creates language development, increased vocabulary and appreciation for being intelligent.
“People say that if you find water rising up to your ankle, that’s the time to do something about it, not when it’s around your neck.” Chinua Achebe African American communities are finding crime and death inching around their necks, they should do something positive about it to make a change in their communities. When “not snitching” is more important than a child’s life that was taken by a bullet is the priority the humanity has been taken away. Human life is not valued and is less than that of an animal.
Because of continuous generational tragedies young people of color are thereby increasing their likelihood of entering correctional facilities, and if daddy is not there who do kids model except who they see on the street or movies?
To keep children of color and culture from entering into the “pipeline” prevention and proaction is needed. Fathers are an important part of this effort, fathers need to be trained and encouraged. Ronnie Cage, community activist and national trainer for fathers and fathering skills has encouraged fathers need training to be fathers for years.
Parenting is a powerful force; parents have a spiritual connection to their children and a responsibility to raise them. Research from the University of Maryland (2000) indicates that, “children who have fathers or father figures in their lives learn better, have higher self-esteem and show fewer signs of depression and aggression.” “…children who identified a father or father figure scored higher on basic learning skill tests and had a stronger sense of competence and social acceptance compared to children without fathers” (University of Maryland Medical News, 2000).
Fact “Black males represent six percent of the U.S. population, yet 35 percent of the prison population and less than two percent of teachers” Morehouse College Educational Conference 2009. All these have an effect on the mental and emotional state of children of color and culture. In the beginning man was created first to care for the world, so men must take the lead and be a part of their children’s lives before cemeteries and prisons have more children
in them than schools and playgrounds.