Black youth are seeking the guidance, wisdom and history of Black elders to survive and succeed in today’s society.
Celebrating Black History is important and honoring Black people who have made an impact on the world and in this country should always be celebrated, not just during Black History Month.
Black youth are our next generation of Black leaders and history makers, but let’s be honest…the healthy respect that many Black youth once had for their Black elders and Black history makers has waned to a large degree.
Since desegregation in the 1960s, several generations of Black youth have grown up in an America that is vastly different than that of the generations of Blacks before them.
For decades, many Black youth have grown up never learning or understanding about the overall true history of people of African descent, which includes the royal beginnings of African people and transitioned to the ugliness of segregation which sprouted from the foundational roots of racism and slavery in America.
Without having clarity about the overall history of people of African descent, coupled with the effects of racism in this country, many Black youth have grown up feeling as if they are immune to realities of racism and that they are not the descendants of Black royalty that they really are.
Sadly, however, time has shown that Black youth have been subjected to many of the same issues previous generations of Blacks dealt with during the Civil Rights era, and in many cases, far worse, especially when analyzing data and gauging the current climate in America.
Because of a lack of change and a reversal of these recurring outcomes, many Black youth got tired of waiting on established Black leadership to step up, so many of them spearheaded their own initiatives and established their own movements to figure things out on their own with the hopes of finally get some things done.
Black Lives Matter has arisen as a movement to address some of the issues many Black youth have been facing, with frustration mounting as many Black youth were looking for leadership and solutions to put an end to the senseless murders of unarmed Black people, especially Black youth, across the country, and to demand accountability.
For many Black adults, this may be a hard pill to swallow, but it must be said.
Many of our Black youth have been shortchanged by the generations who have come before them. Many Black youth have been so desperate for leadership from Black adults that they have turned to other means of mentorship versus receiving the rich wisdom and sound guidance they have needed to navigate and maneuver in today’s challenging society.
Again, I know this may be a tough pill for many Black adults to swallow, but it is real.
While all the blame can’t be solely placed on one group of individuals, namely Black adults, someone has to take responsibility for what has been allowed to happen in the Black community – especially to our Black youth.
There has been an ever-increasing number of self-inflicted violent crimes and senseless murders taking place among Black youth that is unprecedented, which can’t always be blamed on external forces alone.
Many of today’s Black adults are unlike their predecessors. Prior to desegregation, the majority of Black adults would never remain silent and turn a blind eye while Black youth were being killed and assaulted, and would never use some sort of justifiable reason to ignore these glaring issues. They would always say something, and more importantly, do something.
There is a consistent narrative that is oftentimes pushed about “Black-on-Black” crime and although very few people want to hear it, the truth is that intra-racial crimes and murders among Black people is a real issue that negatively impacts the Black community.
Every day, there are news reports and news headlines about unsolved crimes, senseless murders, gang violence and shootouts, armed robberies, home invasions and other violent crimes that continue to plague the Black community.
Even those who do step up to help address these internal forces from destroying the Black community from within don’t have the collective community support they desperately need and many find themselves fighting a battle with limited help and resources.
As we look at the state of Black youth today, we have to ask ourselves what happened.
For the most part, many Blacks, especially those born during and after the Civil Rights Movement, allowed desegregation to cause them to ignore the closeness within the Black community that the struggle for Civil Rights created.
It is important for Black elders to talk with Black youth about their history, while allowing them to also share their true thoughts and feelings about what is happening in this country.
As we begin Black History Month, here are ten things that Black elders can do to reach back and lift Black youth up, while educating, equipping and empowering them with the guidance, wisdom and historical knowledge they need to survive and succeed in today’s society:
- Apologize to every Black young person you encounter, on behalf of the Black elders and Black parents who failed to teach them about their rich history or advocate for them
- Find at least one young Black man/woman to mentor and teach them at least one skill or one trait that they wouldn’t have learned without your engagement
- Volunteer and/or financially contribute to a local Black youth organization
- Speak at a local Black school for Career Day
- Encourage Black youth, especially your own children/grandchildren to get involved in activities that may involve other Black youth who may need guidance and uplifting
- Talk to every young Black person you come across about every aspect of Black history you are familiar with, including all of the contributions made in this world by Black people before, during and after slavery
- At least one time a year, invite Black youth to your local house of worship
- Host a gathering of Black youth in your respective community centered around an event involving sports, the arts or some form of entertainment
- Help a young Black person connect to a gainful job or employment opportunity
- Show up at a program or a special day at some Black youth’s school.
There is a quote attributed to “The Elders” of the Hopi Nation, which says, “We are the ones we have been waiting for” to which Black youth are waiting for their Black elders to rise up and take their rightful place as the teachers and mentors they so desperately need in this season.
You have an entire year to get these 10 things done.
While these 10 things may seem overly simplistic, those simple things could be the very thing that turns a young Black person’s life around and help bridge the gap between Black youth and Black elders. Let’s avoid being an absentee generation to the Black youth of America.