His father asks, "What's wrong?"
CJ replies, "I fell down and hurt my knee."
"Suck it up. Be a man and stop crying boy," is his father's response. "There's nothing wrong with you."**
"Malik was messing with me," Damon says with tears in his eyes. "He pushed me on the playground."
Crystal replies, "Boy stop crying, next time push his ass back. Don't be a punk."**
Scenes like this play out in the Black community every day. Little boys are being taught by their parents to bottle up their feelings and defend themselves with aggression. I'm sure you probably know where I'm going with this, but I'm still going to go there because we still haven't got the message.
Recently we have lost a lot of young black BOYS to violence. Boys who are barely old enough to serve in the military are losing their lives at the hands of boys barely old enough to drive a car. It's so tragic. It takes so much out of a community to lose a CHILD. We weep, we cry out, we wonder why. Everyone is looking for an answer. How do we stop this? How can we get to these young men? What is the root of the problem?
There are many reasons behind the actions of these boys. The media, peers, ignorance, but I think that the illustrations above are the root. Like many issues of today’s youth, it stems from the home. What they are taught (or not taught) at an early age, leads to their behavior in adolescence. We as parents, mentors, and elders need to check what we say to these young men from day one. And it really is simple.
We need to teach young black men how to deal with their feelings. These boys are out here shooting each other because they were always told to suck it up and be a man. We need to let these kids be kids. A 3 year old boy is supposed to cry when he gets upset. Don't spoil or coddle them, but don't act like something is wrong with shedding a tear.
From day one we tell little black boys to be men, stop all that crying and do something about it. Don't come crying to your parents every time you get hurt. How ridiculous is it to expect a toddler to act like a man? If a child gets hurt, they cry. If a child is upset, they cry. There is NOTHING wrong with that. They do not have the knowledge to fully express themselves or the power to control their surroundings. They get frustrated and they cry. Hell, at 25 years old, I cry when I’m frustrated. It's natural, so we need to stop treating these little boys like its wrong.
The little boys who were forced to shut up, hit back, and deal with everything on their own when they were little, are doing just that in their teens. They get into arguments over simple things and it ends with a dead body. They were never taught to talk about what the problem is. They were never taught how to problem solve. They were never taught that it is ok to be upset, so they solve their problems in the quickest, simplest way. *BANG*
The biggest fear of a young black man is to be seen as a punk. If he is disrespected and he walks away, he's a pussy. If someone talks crazy to you, you have to get in his face. If someone bumps into you, you have to bump back. If you don't, you're weak. And Lord knows they were never taught the art of debate. Why argue? Hear one thing you don't like and resort straight to violence. All this leads to is what we see on the news every day.
So what do we do? When our 3 year old climbs into our lap in tears, kiss his forehead, ask what’s wrong, listen, and offer a solution. If he’s hurt, kiss the wound and say, “Don’t worry, it’ll feel better soon.” If someone is messing with him, tell him what to SAY. Let him know that people are going to be mean, but he doesn’t need to worry about that because he is better than that. If you want him to act like a man, teach him how to act like man because telling him to man up will make him act like a nigga.
We all need to know that there is nothing wrong with walking away from an ignorant situation. If someone is trying to start with you, if your friends are about to do something stupid….it is ok to leave. You have something to work for. You are too good to end up dead or in jail or having to watch your back every day. All you have to do is say your peace and walk away. There’s nothing dishonorable about that.
More than anything, these boys need to learn how to TALK things out, how to THINK things through, and how not to ACT out of anger and frustration. And if we keep treating these babies like they have to act like men, we are going to keep failing. The body count will increase and ignorance will continue to spread like an STD.
I refuse to let my son follow this trend. People already criticize the way I raise him, but I know one thing is for sure, he'll never end up with a gun in his hand trying to solve a problem. He will have the intelligence to find a better solution and the self-worth to know he is so much greater than any of the ignorance around him. While most people are teaching their 3 year olds to be "men," I am teaching my son how to express himself through creativity, reading and expanding his vocabulary. I am harvesting his talents so that he stays involved in activities and out of trouble. Call me crazy, but I love that fact that my child is a child and will be until he's an adult.
We should all want that for our babies. Keep that in mind and pray for a better future.