George Zimmerman meant well but we must be careful in our zeal to protect our communities. Trayvon Martin was a better young man than most but sorting good kids from the bad ones has become difficult because most of them –Black, White and Brown- seems to admire the thug/hard element.
I didn’t add “Yellow” to the list above because (as I stereotype) Asians youth in America still respect their elders and attempt to be obedient. Oh, it is a matter of time before certain parts of American culture ruin them also.
We have two or three generations of young people who don’t give a flip about how they carry themselves. They will say or do anything in front of anyone and dare you to look at them sideways. Zimmerman, with the warmth of his firearm, wanted to be that heroic figure in the neighborhood who stood for what was right; he wanted to be the man not afraid to stop the crime drama. But, he stepped mistakenly to a decent guy.
On some level, I feel like the guy on the block who senior citizens seek regarding community matters but I am much smarter than Zimmerman. You must establish a vibe with the young folks and I have found that the holiday season is the best time. During Christmas and the Fourth of July, my 40 something classmates come home to visit their parents and, of course, yell (like we do) at a brother from down the street. It usually surprises the current young people to know that their uncles were once young and that some oldheads gave us words of wisdom—now it’s our turn.
The seed gets planted when my old friends put their massive hands on their nephews’ shoulders and say, “listen to my homeboy and help him keep the block straight for moms.” That nephew and his crew are the ones with the booming car music at 3 a.m. We always want to diplomatically address these matters rather than seeing another person heading to expensive penal system.
We have so much unemployment in rural Georgia but a factory closing doesn’t mean you don’t have a job to do. Most of my friends have worked continuously since high school. I have seen guys laboring to keep their kids in Polo and Tommy gear but the kids grow up with a feeling of entitlement. A year out of work might just be the year when dude saves his son from the streets or the year when moms’ house get the renovations it needed.
On the job front, we are starting to see reports on employers who will only hire whose currently working. Really? In my community, we must do everything we can to weather these rough times. The good news is that Black folks have perseverance encode on our DNA. If we get rid of Polo, Tommy and other aspects of conspicuous consumption, we could live with less money. Secondly, we must stop trying to keep up with the Jones because the Joneses are in debt up to their eyeballs.
There is nothing wrong with a guy being a stay at home dad for a minute; I have been a stay at home son for more than a minute and yes the salary drama is stressing me out. We are now the old guys who voluntarily read the Bible and I like Proverbs 20:29 “The glory of young men is their strength and the beauty of old men is the grey head.” I find Psalm 71:18 to be equally cool “Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and they power to every one that is to come.” While unemployed, you still have work that needs to be done.
Proverbs 22:6 states “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Well, my daddy had a strong commitment to our community and my neighborhood was created in the 1970s by men who were overworked and underpaid on someone else’s farms. If those dead men paid for these houses with years of hard labor, we can’t let a few half-raised youth destroy the area to the degree that widows are in constant fear. And the crazy thing is that homies who come home from prison are the main ones telling the youth that the wild path isn’t the right one.