By David Williams
I am standing against the gym wall.
A young man approaches, smiling at me and shuffling his feet as he walks. His walk is old but his smile is the smile of youth. I greet him and he greets me back.
As he shuffles by, I call out to him, “Pull up your pants!” His hands drop to his sagging pants only seconds before his mouth says, “Yes sir.”
Because he knows I care about him, he instantly complied.
My friends, Buffy and Anthony, call it “the right to be heard.” That request, followed by those actions will be repeated over and over again before this evening is over. I never thought I would see the day that boys would wear their pants so low that they exposed their underwear.
When I was very little, I loved my Batman underwear, but the world never knew when I wore them.
It breaks my heart to see the state of our young black men and boys. How did we as a race fall so far so fast? At what point in our proud history did education, faith, and a strong work ethic become optional?
It seems to me that we have exchanged the bondage of chains for the bondage of ignorance.
One only has to spend some time with this generation to see how far off the grid it is. They can be profane, rude, lazy, void of culture and character. Instead of working on a plantation, we are working on roadside crews and in prisons. Once our children were taken away and sold off to other plantations, but now we forfeit our parental rights and allow the state or the streets to raise our kids. As a result this generation is seemly going nowhere fast. Since we are unable or unwilling to discipline ourselves, we die young or are incarcerated. What good is the Emancipation Proclamation or the progress gained during to civil rights movement when our own actions steal our dreams and rob us of hope?
And so here I am, volunteering with “Thirst” at First Baptist Church trying to get our youth to avoid the roads most traveled while adding my voice to scores of others crying in the wilderness with outstretch hands, “How long will you love simplicity? Because I have tried to warn you but you would not hear, when your troubles come upon you I will laugh.”
I feel that way in my wounded and exhausted moments at evening tide, but even though I know many will fail to listen, I still must try to teach them and let them know.
We have a great heritage!
We have endured countless hardships throughout our history. Having done all we can do to stand (and we must stand), somehow we cannot do to ourselves what years of hardship could not. You can no longer allow the negative stereotypes to become your reality.
Paul wrote, “Brethren, my prayer is that Israel might be saved.”
That is my prayer, that men will become men, father their children and break this cycle of defeat and despair.
We will not only reflect on Black History in doing so, we secure it.