Front Street

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


I don’t have to look around my Bronx neighborhood to witness the plight of young Black or Hispanic men; I can use two of my sons as examples. I say this with great pain and sadness, that regardless of my educational and professional success, I don’t know how to help them. My sons were raised middle-class, with two parents. They were instilled with good values, good common sense, a love of knowledge and jewels of wisdom that they can do and be anything they want to be; and that not all minority males are doomed to prison, premature death or to be drug abusers. In short, they were presented with a blueprint for manhood and success; that despite racism, guns, crime, drugs, etc. they can achieve success with guidance and direction. But despite my and their father’s explaining how education is important, we don’t know what else to do to help them. I thought that communicating Black achievement and leading by example would be enough. But it’s not.

After just two semesters of college, my 19 year old decided that college wasn’t for him and he wanted to be a rapper. And with no education or skills of any kind, he was quickly drawn to the lure of the street corners, drinking beer, smoking marijuana and hanging with his homies. I got so scared, that I shipped him off, practically kicking and screaming to Job Corp; I didn’t know what else to do.

My 16 and a half-year-old is gladly and enthusiastically flunking the tenth grade…again. He told his father that he hates school, and wants to drop out and take the GED…the GED? What the hell is going on? Aren’t children supposed to mirror the product of their upbringing? Is this a test? Did I do something in a past life to deserve this? My sixteen year old wants to be a football or basketball player, since he’s equally good at both. Black males in urban settings aspire to be one of three things: a rapper, an athlete or a street hustler. My husband and I did not give our sons these limited life options. These are not the beacons of hope we instilled in them. So why?

After countless discussions with family members about this, we’re not any closer to a solution; but my mother, the kids grandmother suggests they need a bible study. So, I’m appealing to the human race at large and currently accepting suggestions to my dilemma.