Tuesday, July 6, 2010

He is about 12 years old, but his appearance suggests he is more like 24 years old

At the library, and the employees are having the most difficult time with the volunteers in the children's section. The young boy has been on break since I got here, playing a video game on the computer. I have been helping Elijah on the computer for a good 30 minutes, and he was already well into his game when I got here.

Rule #1: When our young black males reach the age of 12/grade level of 6th/7th they begin to take on the body and shape of young men. They become in appearance not 'boys' or 'children', but 'men'. Their attitudes cannot be that of disdain, entitlement, or nonchalance. Those attitudes, in combination with their new physical appearance, with which they are not yet accustomed, nor comfortable, add up to a phenomenon that has caused the African American society to lose a large number of young black males at this age.

Lose them how? They become mentally and physically disengaged from the socialization process. They become accustomed to the reaction and treatment society is indoctrinated to respond toward their actions with, and they retreat from every aspect of community and society.

Am I postulating? Nope. This is a studied phenomenon, reported and related to those of us who care to read and/or listen.

Have I witnessed it with my own eyes? Yes, I have. It is the age at which we have to be especially cognizant (as if that isn't every age, but even more so at this time) of what is going on in the life of a young black man-child, and surround him with positive influences, stay active in his life. It is the time when he wants most to be left alone, that we have NOT leave him alone. It is the time when we have to make sure that when he is volunteering at the library, he is not feeling entitled to spend his time on 'break' playing a computer game, and mumbling under his breath about why he should have to report his break time to the librarian in charge.

Why? Because if we lose them at this age in school, we lose them TO an even worse fate. If you are not in school, or volunteering in the summer time, or in a summer program, or at your first job, where are you? Somewhere with idle hands, and an idle mind, which are what? The devils workshop. And who has the most creative, intelligent minds of all humankind? Yes....you are following me.

Our penal system is full of young black males who we lost at this critical age, and they right now subject to what Michelle Alexander terms 'The New Jim Crow' laws.

I am at the library with my son, and someone else's. I had a little talk with him. Had to do it. It was my responsibility, and my hope, that he would not be lost.

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