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7 Steps To Raising Exceptional African American Boys

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There are some distinct steps that will place us on the path to raising exceptional African American boys. As we take these steps, we will instill in them purpose, confidence and a sure course of direction for their future. This rarely traveled path, once taken, will produce a mass number of boys who metamorphose right before our very eyes, into men who exemplify true manhood!

by Gillis Triplett

1. Insure That They Participate in Rites of Passage
One of the conspicuously missing elements in our families, communities and churches is Rites of Passage for Boys. For those of you who don’t know what a rites of passage is, I’ll define it by providing you with these appropriate illustrations.

Boot Camp is the rites of passage into the US Armed Forces. If a person fails boot camp, they are not allowed to serve in the military. The Bar Exam is the rites of passage to legally practice law in the USA. If a person fails the bar exam they are not allowed to practice law. Law school not only prepares them for the strenuous and intimidating bar exam, it helps ready them for a career in law.

One of the prime reasons men freeze or fail when it comes to manhood is because, truthfully, they don’t know what to do! False bravado and embarrassment keeps them from admitting their lack of knowledge. Operating under the same concept as law school and boot camp, Rites of Passage for Boys prepares boys for manhood. By the time they graduate, they will have addressed every facet of being a man they will face in adult life. Backed by indepth training, they enter into manhood tempered, tested, tuned and confident!

2. Insure That They Have Proper Male Role Models
Like sponges, boys absorb and then mimic what they see, hear and read. It stands to reason, we don’t want them mimicking the wrong sources. If they have no proper male role models to emulate, be forewarned; boys will mirror the next closest thing! Whether it is femininity, immature or riotous peers or Black men who are suffering from a male identity crisis. One way or the other, they are going to have role models. The question is, “What type?”

Will their role models cause them to be perplexed about manhood? Will their role models indoctrinate them to be effeminate, passive, immoral or abusive males? Will their role models induce them to use and abuse the female gender or become criminals or thugs? Will their role models influence them to use offensive language, mock God, shun marriage, be prone to violence or engage in homosexuality?

Mature parents who truly care about their son’s future will not only ask those tough questions. They will examine and critique their son’s role models to insure that they are being shepherded in the right direction.

Proper male role models perform critical assignments. They are a boy’s unequaled barrier and foremost guide. As barriers, they help boys identify and reject false bravado. As guides, they lead boys through the rough terrains of negative forces and societal pressures and safely navigate them into secure male identities and genuine masculinity.

Proper male role models teach by example what manhood entails. They instill in boys: courage, chivalry and bravery and set the tone for them on other crucial aspects of manhood such as maintaining a healthy male ego, being protectors, cultivators and providers. It’s up to us to insure that our sons have proper male role models!

3. Instill In Them a Respect For Their Fellow Man
To respect means: to show deferential regard for; to avoid violation of or interference with; the state of being regarded with honor or esteem; having an appreciation for. Boys must learn at an early age to respect their elders, women, authority, other people’s property and the law.

Words of respect such as, “Yes sir, yes ma’am, no sir, no ma’am, excuse me sir or ma’am, please and thank you,” must be instilled in boys as part of their lifetime code of conduct. If they are not taught to be respectful, by virtue of default, they will gravitate towards being disrespectful. Being infused with respect molds them into becoming chivalrous, honorable men of integrity.

4. Instill in Them The Value of Marriage and Family Unity
African Americans are experiencing extremely low marital rates. Due, in large part, to the fact that many Black males don’t consider marriage as a possibility, let alone a priority. Instead of pursuing matrimony, they opt for extended sexual liaisons, living together and siring children out of wedlock. One of the prime reasons they shun matrimony is because it was never instilled in them to value marriage or family unity.

I know men in their late thirties who have never been to a wedding ceremony or anniversary. They’ve never seen the glow on a man’s face as he explains how he pursued and proposed to the love of his life, his adorable wife. They’ve never interacted with a happily married man or attended a family reunion. They’ve never sat down at a table together and eaten in an intact family setting, (i.e., husband, wife and children).

Everything they’ve learned about marriage and family comes from dubious sources: angry Black females, bitter single moms and women whose sole purpose for bearing children is to trap a man or collect child support. Or, they are taught about family and marriage from: invisible, sporadic, abusive or dead-beat dads. Most of, if not all of the males they know, display hostility towards women; referring to females as hoes while boasting about being pimps, playas and dogs.

One evening I tracked the number of rap songs produced by Black male role models that feature the hook, “Don’t love them hoes!” I stopped counting after finding thirty-six hip hop artists who found it manly to insult, demoralize and crush the spirits of African American women.

Surely, you concur that our young boys feed off this demonically inspired misogynistic music as if it were the gospel! By the time they reach the marrying age, they have been thoroughly indoctrinated to believe that women are nothing but a piece of booty to be pimped.

In spite of the aforementioned challenges, we must forge ahead and instill the importance of marriage and family in the hearts of the boys in our sphere of influence. We must do so early and often in order for them to esteem matrimony and value family unity.

As part of the indoctrination process, we must see to it that our boys have family time: to include praying and breaking bread together, family outings and such. They should participate in family reunions and attend wedding ceremonies and anniversaries and learn from happily married men what to expect. Through these activities they will learn to appreciate matrimony and embrace and foster family unity.

5. Instill In Them The Value and Importance of Education
The lack of proper male role models has produced another ominous phenomenon amongst African American males. Namely, the shunning of education. I won’t bore you with all of their trifling excuses. Which, by the way, they learned from Black role models, albeit negative ones. However, you do need to be acutely aware of the noxious culture they have forged. Using peer pressure, manipulation and folklore, they brainwash our children into believing that Black people who acquire an education have betrayed African Americans and are trying to be white.

They claim that studying; getting good grades and speaking articulately proves, “That particular Black person is a sellout!” Boys are the primary targets of this sub-cultural insanity. The African American males who fuel this distressing epidemic have succeeded in their bewildering mission to plague Black men with their awe-inspiring ignorance.

Per the American Council on Education, "The graduation rate of Black men is the lowest of any population." To right this sinking ship, those of us who comprehend the value of higher learning must rise to the occasion and instill in our sons the value and importance of education.

We must support and honor men like: Antoine L. Medley - founder of Future Black Men of America, John Bryant - founder of Operation Hope, Robert Moses - founder of The Algebra Project, Orrin Hudson - founder of Be Someone and Maurice Ashley - International Grandmaster chess champion. These men are positive male role models who have set the standard for instilling the value and importance of education in the minds and hearts of our children. Not only must we support and honor these men, we must follow their lead!

"Basically, I got angry about what I saw happening
to young Black males in the school system. I was
angry at the system and I was angry at myself
for not doing more to help Black male students."
Dr. Deryl Bailey, Gentlemen on The Move

Once the masses take on the mindset of Dr. Bailey, things will change! You may not start a non-profit organization, foundation or school, but you can have just as much impact by showing our sons that being educated IS NOT an option; it is mandatory! They must know that being intelligent, scholarly and polished is the standard for all Black men!

6. Instill In Them Community, Civic and Political Responsibility
We often hear people talk about the lack of participation of Black males in the issues of life that matter. The question has been asked time and again, “Where are the Black men?” The answer is, “They are right where we, the adults steered them and left as them boys!”

The poignant motto of 100 Black Men drives this point home with absolute clarity: "What They See Is What They'll Be." The truth is, “we” receive a failing grade when the test question is asked, “Have we showed African American boys how to embrace community, civic and political responsibility?”

The good news is; we will amend our lethargic resumes as we switch gears and start grooming our boys to be philanthropists and political and civic activists. As we do so, we’ll create a dynamic culture and synergistic legacy that inspires our boys to purposefully share their time, talents and treasures for the well-being and good of humanity.

7. Instill In Them Rock Solid Faith In God
Prior to entering into manhood, a young man must have a rock solid foundation that has been tested and tempered. One that will not waver, crack or crumble. If his foundation is shaky, flaky or suspect, he’ll travel down one or more of the worn out paths men find themselves in when they allow pressures or temptations to get the best of them. Below are some of the issues, challenges and dangers a man may have to deal with during his lifetime. Will your son(s) ready?

● Racism

● Finding a suitable mate

● Media hatred of Black men

● Love, sex and relationships

● A volatile economy

● Marriage

● Companies merging

● Children

● Companies closing

● Divorce

● Downsizing and layoffs

● Paternity fraud

● Lawsuits

● Sexual temptations

● Taxes and the IRS

● Homosexuality

● Bankruptcy

● HIV/AIDS and other STDs

● Education and career

● Abuse/domestic violence

● Politics

● Drugs and alcohol

● Homeland security

● False charges/allegations

● Global war

● Black on Black crime

● Feminism/anti-male climate

● God and eternal life

Men who don’t have a rock solid faith in God, almost always react to the issues of life by either traveling down one or more of these paths: giving up, resorting to drugs or alcohol, holding grudges, seeking vengeance or becoming passive, Or, they turn to: rage, anger, crime, abuse, sexual immorality or suicide. A rock solid faith in God affords a man the advantage of responding to life’s challenges, temptations and dangers with the Word of God and prayer.

We are responsible for setting the tone for our sons. To be frank, if we fail or refuse to do it, it will not get done! We must impart to them a rich spiritual heritage. One that serves as their lifetime compass and eternal roadmap. By doing so, we position our boys to see beyond dire circumstances, hopelessness and insurmountable challenges and tap into God’s unlimited resources to help them reign victorious in life.

Whether he is your biological son, stepson, adopted son, nephew, mentee or student, by walking him through each of these seven steps, you prepare him to become a man we can all salute and applaud!

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