Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Black community must redefine ‘a real man’

May 16, 2007 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) Savannah, GA Responsibility and achievement, not violence, are the mark of a true man.

A new life started when I started going to Savannah Technical College. Everything is so positive, fresh and great.”

John Weldon, as told to his teacher Geveryl Robinson, on March 19.

On May 1, 2007, John Weldon was murdered. He was shot through the head by some still unknown thugs who thought that John’s life didn’t matter.

Well, it did.

John’s life mattered for reasons that the killers could never begin to understand.

    His life mattered because he was trying to rise above his circumstances to become a role model for his younger siblings.

    His life mattered because he cared about his education and his future, and because he was another example of a young, black man, who wasn’t a statistic, who had never been arrested, didn’t have any illegitimate kids, and who wasn’t on drugs.

    His life mattered.

When I spoke at John’s funeral, I spoke to the young black men who were in attendance about the true definition of a man.

In our society, and namely in the black community, the definition of a man has become skewed. No longer is a man defined by his “quiet strength” or by the fact that he provides for his family and is responsible, mature and dedicated not only to his loved ones, but also to his community.

No, now a man is defined by how many bullets he can put into someone else.

A man is now a person who has more bullet holes in his chest then books on his desk. It’s not “manly” to go to college to get an education. No, a real man gets his education from the school of hard knocks, or State Penitentiary University.

Where did we go wrong?

I have been asking myself where we, as a black community, have gone wrong since I learned of John’s death. How did we let our young men slip away from us? True, we marched with Martin because we wanted to overcome, and we have. We have become overcome with dead young men because in our pursuit of equality, we forgot about our families.

We forgot that change does not come without a price, and for many, that price has been the lives of our sons. Integration was good in some ways, but in many ways it hurt the black community more than it helped.

We used to care about each other.

Black communities used to be close-knit places where my mothers were not only the mothers of their children, but of their neighbors’ children as well. Crime was not tolerated because we knew that as black people, we had to be better, do better than others because we took pride in the fact that even though we had been held down, and held back, we could rise to the occasion and show our once oppressors that we might have been bent, but we were not broken.

But that was then.

Now, well now, all we seem to read about are the black men who are either in prison, or dead because another black “brother” wanted to prove his manhood by silencing the voice of one of his own. And the sad thing is that for most, this “gangster manliness” is glorified. It is glamorous to know someone who has been shot nine times.

Heck, having numerous bullet holes gives you “cred” and if you are an entertainer it also gives you million dollar record sales.

We went from “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” to “It’s Kinda Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” We have embraced this thug mentality while letting go of our dignity and pride.

When will it end?

I don’t know if things will ever get better, especially if we, as a people, don’t wake up and smell reality. We are more of a threat to ourselves than white people could ever be. We are killing each other. We are destroying our families and making a mockery of the rights, and privileges that our forefathers died to achieve. We are our own worst enemy.

We killed John.

A new life started for John when he began college. If only we could have let him live long enough to enjoy it.


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