There is a WAR for the mind, body and soul of the Black male in America. Anyone who suggests there isn’t is either blind, deaf and dumb or one who profits from our demise. For every 3 Black males in America, 1 is “on schedule” to go to prison; let “them tell it.” This means that for every 3 male siblings in a family, American society predicts that one of them will end up with an orange jumpsuit, spin number and a commissary account. To the degree that we BELIEVE this propaganda determines the Black male’s salvation or damnation. To hell with their expectations. We will not accept this as the destiny of our sons. We must fight.
Their statistics also state that nearly 70% of the homes in the Black community are headed by Black women. We don’t know how exact these numbers are, however we DO KNOW that the absence of Black men in the home is a problem of unquantifiable proportion in our community. I was raised by a single mother. I saw my mother struggle to understand me. We, as men, must accept our rightful place as head of household and raise our sons. But until then, here are a few tips for single mothers who have been tasked with “Raising Boys.”
- FACE REALITY – You must be not naïve to the reality that there is a conspiracy to destroy Black boys. He is expected to be the first to fail in the educational system. He is expected to be last hired in the employment market. He is more likely to be stopped by law enforcement than anyone else in America. They are building prisons with the expectation that he will stop by at some point in his life. You see him as a boy; but most judges see him as a little grown man and will sentence him as such if given an opportunity. Your boy is a target, but do not be afraid or discouraged. God has a plan for him that is greater than theirs.
- KEEP HIM BUSY – I can’t stress this enough. Two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time. If the little league coach has him, the dope man doesn’t. If he’s somewhere practicing his musical instrument, then he isn’t somewhere in the streets making mischief. His schedule should look like the president’s. An idle mind is the devil’s casino. Keep him busy with positive activities and the negative forces will not have access to his young, impressionable mind.
- TEACH HIM WORK ETHIC – DO NOT GIVE HIM ANYTHING FOR FREE! When your son asks you to purchase something he wants, NEVER purchase it for him without requiring something of him. For instance, if he asks for a new pair of sneakers (and you know you are going to buy them for him anyway), make him clean out the garage in order to EARN them. This instills in him the concept of reward for hard work. If you are consistent with this you will instill in him a work ethic that will make him rise to unimaginable heights in his life. If you always give him something for nothing he will think that is the way the world works. This will cripple him for life.
- ENCOURAGE FATHER/SON RELATIONSHIP – DO NOT KEEP YOUR SON FROM HIS FATHER! No matter what he says, it is in his nature to want a relationship with his dad. If you allow your personal feelings to interfere with their relationship you will ultimately be blamed and possibly never forgiven. More importantly, it will hurt your son’s development. He will become angry and his anger will get him into trouble in life. If the lines of communication are open between them, you should encourage it. If the father is not around then don’t speak negatively about him. Do all you can to make sure your son grows up with his father around. If it does not work out, make sure it isn’t because you were in the way. Be loyal to your child; not your emotions.
- STUDY HIS FATHER – You child is born with 46 chromosomes. Twenty three come from his father. No matter how you feel about your son’s father you are going to have to deal with him; because he is in your son. A careful study of your son’s dad will tell you a lot about your son’s strengths and weaknesses. Genetics are powerful. You cannot get away from this. If your son’s dad was a musician, more than likely your son will gravitate toward music. I say, put him in music school. A single mom raising boys must always play chess; not checkers.
- FIND MENTORS – People say that a woman can’t raise a man. I slightly disagree. I say a woman can’t raise a man without help from other men. It truly takes a village. If there is no father in your son’s life you must find mentors and put him in an environment with strong Black men as often as possible. Don’t make the mistake of solely relying on preachers and community leaders. A good mentor may be the bus driver who lives next door. The best mentor is one who is interested in the same things your son likes. If your son desires to be an architect, connect him with a professional who makes a living doing what he loves. That will capture his attention. Remember, if we want them to be something different, they have to see something different.
- SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION – Make sure you do your best to give him a spiritual foundation. We make the mistake of thinking our children are not interested in the things of God. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I remember being 12 years old trying to read my Bible, trying to gain an understanding. Do your best to make sure you are the bridge that connects your son to his creator. Once that connection is made you can get out of the way.
- GET HIM OFF THE BREAST – I encourage breast feeding. That is not what I am speaking of. When I say “get him off the breast”, I mean, do not turn him into a “baby boy” who knows that his mother will take care of him forever. When it’s time, let him be a man. You will ruin your son if you continue to do for him what he is capable of doing for himself. The formula is simple. Teach him how to swim and then throw him in the water without looking back. Trust that God will protect him. Lots of single mothers get their emotional wires crossed up and mistake their sons for their significant other. He is not your man. He will never know that he is capable of doing it on his own if you are always there to do it for him. Know when to get out of God’s way.
- CULTURAL FOUNDATION – Your son must be rooted in Black consciousness. He must know his history. He must know where he came from. It will help him to figure out where he is going. You have birthed a warrior into the world. When he has knowledge of self, he knows what he should be fighting for. When we fail to give our children a cultural foundation they end up fighting against what they should be fighting for and fighting for what they should be fighting against.
- ENCOURAGE ENTREPRENEURSHIP – You must give your son a “Black Wall Street” mentality. Instill in him the importance of ownership at an early age. You will find that he will want to do little things to earn money; like washing cars, mowing lawns, etc. He may even sell the snacks you send to school with him. Encourage that. Put him around business minded individuals at an early age. America isn’t interested in creating jobs for Black males. He must be equipped with the knowledge of how to create one for himself.
NOTE: I will go deeper into each tip in future writings. If you have any questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will try to respond to as many as I can.
Deric Muhammad is a Houston-based Activist. You can purchase his book “ASAP” at www.dericmuhammad.com.