The Call to Duty
Let us be clear from the very onset. This is a call to African-Americans males; a request that carries significant effort and great personal sacrifice. It is an appeal to do, be and realize more; to achieve greater; to exceed expectations. In particular, Blackacre calls upon black men to individually and collectively step up to the plate and lead our brethren, families and communities. Rather than demand the reigns of leadership, we ask that we first earn the right to guide and influence. And lastly, we appeal to black men that we lead, not by words but by action, deed and example.
The reasons for this request are substantial and compelling. First, the African-American community is beset by challenges that are greater than serious. Problems like poverty, homelessness, lawlessness, misguided youth, shattered families and a subculture that is anything but nurturing threatens our tomorrows. And while said trials affect all of society, the negative impact upon black men, women and children are undeniable.
Take for example education. An October 1, 2014 article in the Dallas Morning News entitled, “As Affluent Spend More on Kids’ Education, Wealth Gap Widens” reveals the depths of our problems. According to the article, “the wealthy are doubling down on the education of their children. Consequently, children of affluent parents score 125 points higher on SATs than those from poorer homes, up from a gap of 90 points during the 1980’s.”
It therefore seems clear that those who excel in school will succeed monetarily and politically. Those who fail in school either because their parents will not or can not invest in their education will tend to fail financially and socially.
Or consider the issues of image and persona. Whether right or wrong, black men are branded as violent, narcissistic criminals. Those who fit this profile dominate the public eye. A recent Oprah Winfrey telecast for example, featured a young black male who has fathered 32 children by 6 or 7 women.
Ironically Black men who practice responsible personal behavior are neither noticed nor featured on T. V. Taking a leadership role cannot help but enhance an image bruised and besmirched by negative stereotypes.
Next, African-American men must halt the internecine warfare that decimates the black community, a war that is primarily fought by black males against other black males. Putting an end to the killing should be one of our prime directives.
Blackacre fully realizes the gravity of what we are asking. Leadership is anything but easy. African-American males will be blamed and vilified; thrown under the bus for the mere attempt to do what is right. We will then be scolded for how we got run over. We will know disappointment at every turn and even should we succeed few will say well done. Strong bitter winds will surely blow our way.
But we should lead nevertheless. It is our responsibility, to educate, mentor and direct other black men; to persuade them to be at their best; to look and act like the model citizens they are meant to be. The importance of image and appearance cannot be overstated. It is therefore up to us to teach our young a better way and the power of a clean professional appearance.
It is black men who must end the scourge of domestic violence not because we are the perpetrators thereof but because we are morally obligated to respect our women and support our families. It is our duty to reincorporate the formerly incarcerated back into society. It is our mandate to volunteer in our churches, schools, Little League teams and neighborhood watch groups. It is we who must share our gifts, talents, and perspectives with the world. And it is ours to make a positive difference in our communities, when ever and how ever we can.
For too long we have abdicated our responsibilities to others. For too long we have beseeched the government, business, the media, the church, our women, Democrats and Republicans; any one and every one to do that which we should do. No more.
It is past time that we realized our fortitude, accepted our responsibilities and met our obligations. African-American men have been historically put upon not because we are weak but because we are strong.
As a group, we carry centuries of guilt, shame and anger over a horrid past that we were unable to prevent. We carry additional angst over that which is occurring now, the mass incarceration of our children and the black on black crime which we also seem powerless to stop. These problems can not and will not be solved absent the involvement of black men who demonstrate their masculinity by leading from a place of love and reconciliation rather than entitlement and arrogance.
Fortunately, there is no obligation to be perfect. Only that we honestly endeavor to Sheppard our community to a better tomorrow.
In summation, we lead because we can, we lead because we must. The book “The Leadership Challenge” by James Kouzes and Barry Posner defines our mission. African-American men must model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act and encourage the heart of each and every person we encounter. We can no more ignore this responsibility than deny our gender.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum