John Turnipseed is a trainer at the UYWI National Conference and is currently the Director of the Urban Ventures Center for Fathering in Minneapolis. He is a product of violence on the streets and in prison, and his goal is to instill a conscience back into society and our culture.
The current alarm in the African American community (which again centers on school failure, black male achievement, and economic survival) has raised its eerie, ugly, and tragic sound. The mechanical blueprint of exploiting the problem of the “black boys” is, once again, on the drawing board. This will last for about two years and then disappear after the money is disbursed. The children and conditions will once again be blamed for the failure because the cavalry came and did all it could, but didn’t solve the problem.
There will be wonderful programming that sounds the horn of solution. We “have the answer” and we are “just waiting for the opportunity to help” is the familiar war cry. The best of the cavalry — the most connected ones, the ones with the most credentials, and the most charming presenters — will be the commissioned army assigned to fight the good fight to yield the sword of salvation, to rescue the young men of lost hope and promise. To once again free the slaves of a failed system, to rescue the poor unfortunate children of a failed race.
The current situation needs an old approach to solve this old problem. The problem is the breakdown of the core family in the African American community. If you send a broken child to school, a broken child will return home. If you ask a broken community to raise a child, a broken child will be conceived out of this broken unholy alliance. If you ask a broken culture to solve the problem, a stronger broken community and culture will be produced. Oh yes, and then we will whip the tar out of the teachers and hire sacrificial school superintendents to blame until we run out of tax dollars to pay for them.
But there is hope. God would not be so cruel as to desert his children. There was a map left for us to find our way home and to mend the shattered lives of the children and community that are seemingly lost.
I say let’s do something different, but not foreign — something that has been stored in the creases of our heart and the folds of our minds. I am talking about getting back to the values that brought us to our greatest heights. I am talking about getting black again. I am talking about getting back to family for real. I am talking about going to get our children and teach them character, reading and writing skills. I am talking about getting black businesses back in our communities and supporting them by buying from them. I am talking about directing the drug dealer to leave now as his services are no longer needed. Yes, I am talking about upholding the beliefs and values of the God that has sustained us. I am talking about the movement. As the last poets said, the revolution will not be televised. We will be too busy working.
I am in my own city putting the call out for black men to come home, to stop waiting for the world to push us to the solutions that we already have. All we are missing is the will and the unity to move in one direction, to have restoration toward the one common goal, revitalization of our family and our spiritual roots, and to sit at our rightful place as fathers, leaders, and decision makers in this time in America. The schools can continue to be schools but we will send un-broken children to them. The school system was not set up to parent our child; that is our commission. When black men recognize the sheer velocity of our voice and power, when used in a moral and cultural standard, the world will be begging for our inclusion and not begging for a solution
This is a problem for all people, but the ultimate responsibility lies on the shoulders of the capable African American men that must lead the charge. We must reclaim our faith, family, and pride in being the great lineage that we are and to get back on track so that our legacy will not fail our children. God makes us capable, He is just waiting for us to answer the call. Let’s get it done.
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