I am waking up and going to bed asking the same question: What is going on, America?
Some years ago Motown legend Marvin Gaye sang a song simply titled, “What’s Going On.” You remember him singing, “can’t find no work can’t find no job my friend; money is tighter than it has ever been.”
The same applies today, especially for African-Americans like me.
Yet a more penetrating and profound question today is what is going on with our Black boys?
When I see Black boys at the bus stop waiting to get on the school bus doesn’t necessarily mean they will return from school safely.
Just a few days ago a young black boy in Jacksonville, Florida was shot to death at the bus stop waiting to go to school. He was 16 years old. What could a boy have done so bad that he deserved to die? What’s going on!
These are perilous times for young Black boys. If you are an honor roll student or an aspiring honor roll student you may get shot in what I call random acts of violence. In other words you may just be in the way.
The circumstances surrounding Black males dying are now being called into serious question.
When I watch CNN and you hear a Black man say I can’t breathe and you choke him to death you must ask the question, do Black lives matter?
Protests have sprung up all across America. The mantra for some of us is that we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. These mostly peaceful protests are being led by an assemblage of Black and White and young and old.
They realize that young Black boys are at risk. Until Black lives matter we will have to continue to march, we will have to increase our voting patterns and we will have to remain on our posts until we won’t need to say hands up! We won’t need to feel like we are guilty because of color.
Black boys need the opportunity to become successful not because they are Black but because they are a part of humanity. Life cannot end for them because of environment and circumstances.
We must develop a stronger belief system in our communities. We must see the cup of success full for them and not empty. We must give our Black boys hope and encouragement at every turn.
As mentors and the guardians of the dream we must provide our Black boys with a framework for success. Maybe what follows will help.
Pledge for African American Boys
I (your name) know that God will order my steps throughout my life.
I must make good decisions in order to be successful.
Therefore, I will listen and obey my parents, grandparents and other relatives because I know they love me and want what is best for me.
Therefore, I will obey and abide by all rules and regulations when I am at school; I will listen to all of my teachers and other school officials. I will not cause confusion or be a disruption at my school.
Therefore, I will treat all of my classmates and friends with dignity and respect. When I meet someone new I will also treat them with dignity and respect.
Therefore, I will display a good attitude at all times and will maintain high levels of self respect and respect for others.
Therefore, when I am in my community and other communities I will obey all rules and regulations. I will not have any verbal or physical confrontations with the police or any other authority figure. I will follow their instructions and will not talk back to them.
Therefore, as I am growing into manhood I will be mindful of the fact that I have a responsibility to help other boys and to be a service to other people.
I have a bright future ahead of me so I know that I can, I must and I will succeed.
Dr. James Ewers is the President Emeritus of The Teen Mentoring Committee in Ohio. He served as a vice president and admissions director at several colleges and universities before retiring in 2012. A motivational speaker and workshop leader, he is the author of Perspectives From Where I Sit: Essays on Education, Parenting and Teen Issues.