Friday, December 12, 2008

A tale of two men - or African American men growing up without fathers

They both travel heavy and with the Greyhound bus. One has a fear of flying since 9-11 and he thought his aunt and grandmother had been lost in the terrorist attacks. The other is a student in the Carolinas and is coming to Peekskill NY for Christmas. Both young men travel with a ton of clothes, shoes, belts, jeans and those hats with the darn gold stickers on them even months after purchase - another clothing phenomenon that is lost on me.

They are both African American men - one is brown - a black mother and Caucasian father and the other is black - both were raised by single parents - mostly their mothers. The college student is a sophomore and is planning to teach math. I told him to be good to his mom and to never forget the sacrifices she has made so that he can be in college.

The other sits in a state prison - the divorce and subsequent fallout too much for him. He had been an average student. He was shy, skinny and played football and baseball. He was a boy scout and loved to clown around for family and friends.

After the divorce, he lost his way - it was just too much to bear - he started hanging out with the wrong crowd - some gangsters, others peripheral gangsters. His mother put him in an alternative high school and worked with some programs to get him back on track, even reported him to the police when a valuable item was missing from the family home - a police sergeant told the mother she was overreacting - there was no real punishment for a kid who had never before been in any real trouble and she should not expect a judge to take it seriously. Would that she had that choice to make over again - she would have insisted on peer court, a real court, intervention of ANY kind.

There are far too many of our young men incarcerated for minor and major offenses. We cannot continue to lock up generations of men and expect there to be no ramifications for families and society. Would that this young man were in school studying, instead of getting his GED in a locked facility.

Choose wisely, my friends. There but for the grace of God go many of us........

No comments: