Posts Tagged ‘family’

Solving the pressing family crisis in our community could start with some simple solutions.  President Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope, Hill Harper’s books “Letters to a Young Brother” and “Letters to a Young Sister,” and Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint’s “Come On People” all contain a central theme on the family.  To me, the theme was be careful when and with whom you start a family. 

President Obama and Hill Harper were classmates at Harvard Law and both seem to emphasize waiting until the early twenties at least before making huge life decisions—like 23 years old.  Of course, young people start college, training at technical schools, serving in the military and building careers before that age.  But, I wish they would train, study and work by day and worship, chill and enjoy life at night and on the weekends while being very deliberate about life-altering actions like parenthood and crime. 

The difference between 16 years old and 23 years ago is vast.  While working in a community service program with young mothers, I quickly learned that most of the moms wished they would have waited to better know themselves and the guys with whom they were dealing before having a child.  Most of my students later discovered that the dudes themselves didn’t really know who they were at the time.  If you like to party, you should get partying out of your system before dramatically affecting you life and those around you.

My friends and I are constantly puzzled by young people who were raised under difficult conditions who put themselves in the same conditions.  Of course, that young person’s parents often shoulder the burden of caring for the teen mom’s baby at a time when grandmothers should be enjoying relief after struggling for almost two decades and getting their money straight. 

We know that medical science, diet and exercise could give young people today the opportunity to live 20 years longer than their grandparents.  So, what is the rush to be a parent?  Hill Harper wrote that many young women are looking for love from guys or want a baby to love.  But, careful life-planning and love for the unborn child should have them delay parenthood until conditions are better—never perfect but better. 

Governmental resources are scarce and taxpayers are understandably ticked about entitlement spending.  While some loved the general idea of an Obama presidency, I was crazy about Obama speaking to young people about being careful with life choices in a manner similar to the decision-making of President Barrack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill Cosby, Hill Harper and countless others who could teach these life skills and back them with proven actions.

I say young people should study, work and have fun while they are maturing and please listen to older people around you—they have been where you are heading and you can learn from their personal histories. 

The Audacity of Hope: Barrack Obama

p. 255 In other words, African American understand that culture matters but that culture is shaped by circumstance.  We know that many in the inner city are trapped by their own self destructive behaviors but those behaviors are not innate.  And because of that knowledge, the black community remains convinced that of America finds its will to do so, then circumstance for those trapped in the inner city can be changed, individuals attitudes among the poor will change in kind, and the damage can gradually be undone, if not for this generation then at least for the next.

Such wisdom might help us move beyond ideological bickering and serve as the basis of a renewed effort to tackle the problem of inner city poverty.  We could begin by acknowledging that perhaps the single biggest thing we could do to reduce such poverty is to encourage teenage girls to finish high school and avoid having children out of wedlock.  In this effort, school and community based programs that have a proven track record of reducing teen pregnancy need to be expanded, but parents, clergy and community leaders also need to speak out more consistently on this issue.

p. 245 Then there’s the collapse of the two-parent black household, a phenomenon that is occurring at such an alarming rate when compared to the rest of American society that what was once a difference in degree has become a difference in kind.  A phenomenon that reflects casualness toward sex and child rearing among black men that renders black children more vulnerable – and for which there is simply no excuse.

p. 347 I didn’t have a prepared text, but I took as my theme “what it takes to be a full-growth man.”  I suggested that it was time that men in general and black men in particular put away their excuses for not being there for their families.  I reminded the men in the audience that being a father meant more than bearing a child; that even those of us who were physically present in the home are often emotionally absent; that precisely because many of us didn’t have fathers in the house we have to redouble our efforts to break the cycle; and that if we want to pass on high expectations to our children, we have to have higher expectations for ourselves.   

My notes from the Cosby Book: Come On People



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Carlton Fletcher wrote a must read column in the Albany Herald today.  If you are from rural Georgia, you know the term “Busleft” and you know about crazy family.  I can talk about my family but you can’t.  You know, family could include our church family, our state, our South, our community, our political party, our college, our nation and our race.  It’s all about a family tree and sometimes we wish we could prune some rotten branches.  Yes, I have so much to say about the design of our new church and haven’t bought a brick or nail yet.  “See what had happen is the market is killing my pocket—not the Nasdaq…the supermarket and the job market.”   

In a strange twist, I almost always understand Fletcher’s point of view but rarely get Black columnist Thomas Sowell.  You know Zora  Neale Hurston said “Just because we skin folks, don’t mean we kin folks.”  On the other hand, when Black leaders get slam relentlessly we circle the wagons—even when Blacks folks are doing the slamming.  “Say one more thing about Condoleezza and it is on.”  So, Sowell is still family and let the brother speak.  I am turning into a walking contradiction.

On Meet the Press today, it was reported that 85% of Republicans will likely vote next November but only 50% of Democrats.  With all the pressing issues on the national plate, Dems not voting would be odd and Blacks not voting would be crazy.  To be on the safe side, we need to look at a few Black GOP congressional candidates.  Hey, we got to hedge our bets.  I could go on about “get on the bus” and tie in “Busleft” but the Falcons playing in a few.

Carlton Fletcher’s column


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Those people waiting for President Obama to make things easier for struggling Americans will be waiting awhile.  He did not run on that platform; his message was facilitating a climate in which those who want to strive can do just that.  Naturally, others will continue their struggle and wonder why.  They keep biting off more than you can chew; putting too much on your plate or digging deep holes.  In south Georgia, we say that the first thing you need to do when you find yourself in a hole is stop dig.  If you think about it, struggle people actually work hard for years and years in a desperate effort to stay above water or above the ground.

Can far-right conservatives inadvertently be good for our community?  Absolutely, we would then understand that the government is not designed to pull us from holes that we personally dug.  President Obama and the Blue Dog Democrats mean well but the far-left create a false sense of security.

The next important movement could come when we openly discuss encouraging people to turn inward before looking to the government for assistance and hope.  Let’s be honest: the jobs lost in the last five years are not coming back.  Companies and industries are functioning with more technology, leaner operations and fewer workers.  We simply don’t have enough jobs for the growing number of people in this nation and this world.  Since no kind person wants to see homeless people, hungry children or suffering senior citizens, we must discover a way to ethically cajole people to have children when and if they are prepared.

The dilemma is that people who are not wise fail to see this logic and accusations of genocide quickly follow.  If Michelle Obama made solving this dilemma her life’s work, she could be one of the ten most important Americans of all time.  Since we have the Peace Corps, we could call it the Cease Corps and the central mission will be breaking the cycle of American families struggling by addressing the root causes in a preemptive matter.

In my community, some people are proud that their family is strong enough to face tons of adversity.  Other families are proud that they function in a deliberate and calculating matter—avoiding adversity and living smoothly.

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Kids who think that they are not suppose to learn in the summer are simply wrong.  School is formal education and everything else is informal education or other components in the learning process.  What about the family that plans summer vacation trips to hit historical sites and science centers or the families who would send the city kids to the country and vice versa?  Listening to grandparents’ wisdom and knowledge helps complete the well-rounded child.

The teens of south Georgia should spend a few weeks working in the infamous “fields.” When I harvested watermelon, cantaloupes, and tomatoes, my muscles ached but I learn that the slaves and sharecroppers had in rough and this was not the work for me.  I was on the honor roll the next year because I was trying to have educational and career options to keep me out of those fields…unless I was the farm owner. 

Some of the kids today don’t know how to learn.  The information covered in class should be used everyday for the rest of their lives.  Kids walk out of English class speaking the worst English you ever heard.  Parents should be mindful of the English spoken around kids at home and correct mistakes.  I was a “community organizer” with a community development program at my alma mater and my duties included teaching job skills and academic refresher classes in a welfare to work program.  My students would complain about not getting jobs in retail at the local mall and I would tell them the real reasons—they couldn’t speak or listen properly. 

The first thing I noticed was their fast manner of speaking.  One student would repeat everything three times to get the listener to understand. “WhatagotoBurgerKing, WhatagotoBurgerKing, WhatagotoBurgerKing.” I pointed out that it would have been easier to say it one time a little slower and speaking slowly was the considerate thing to do..like an attorney during court cases on Law and Order.  With the addition time, a speaker could construct grammatically correct sentences and be that much closer to the coveted job selling chinos at the Gap.  Of course, working in the mall might introduce them to a man who was more focused than the kuckleheads from some of their pasts. 

I tried to teach them to be resourceful by watching the more educational channels and news discussions rather than a constant diet of music videos and “he is not this child’s father” shows.  To me, Maury Povich and BET can damage America as much as Kim Jong-il. 

What Obama does for or to our community cannot compare to what we could do by being more resourceful and deliberate in our formal and informal educations and President Obama will quickly tell you that.  During the July 4th cookouts, we should look for two groups at the same party.  One group will feature “uncle in and out of jail” telling glorious stories about his sordid past.  The other groups will feature “uncle the military gave me options” who will be emphasizing personal responsibility and consequences.  The first uncle talks fast and you can hardily understand what he is saying while puffing on a Newport.  The second uncle speaks clearly and composes his statements around a central theme…while puffing on a Newport. 

While the cookout does not take place in a farmer’s field, both uncles will plant seeds with the youth.  In twenty years, the kids from that cookout might reflect lessons learned that day from the uncles.

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Some General Motors workers learned today that they will not being worked for nine weeks this summer.  While we all know the downside to this unfortunate situation, the bright side could be precious time spend with the family and friends.


How many people wake up one day and realize that their children are adults because time went so fast.  I hope these workers can afford to spend time with their teenagers and little ones doing free or cheap stuff like relaxing in the park, cleaning the garage or playing tennis and basketball daily.  It is my understanding that fishing is a pastime that gives an opportunity to pass along family history and reinforce the moral compass and life skills.  You can spend some time with the kids now to avoid legal fees and diapers a little later.  Dig?


Workers without kids can sit at their retired parents feet and soak it the knowledge and wisdom while pampering the seniors to say thanks.  Uncle and aunts can take the family kids for a few weeks to give siblings a needed break.  (I am one of the top uncles on earth.)  And, folks without families can see about those cool senior citizens from church or the neighborhood—they love listeners and buffets.  What about that slow road trip across country you always wanted to take like those guys on the movie Wild Hogs.  


If you put out some good karma, maybe heaven will remember if you find yourself completely out of a job.  You can make more money but time spent with mom and dad is priceless.   Don’t find yourself at a funeral talking about “shoulda, woulda, coulda.”  My daddy said pin my flowers on me while I am alive—and I did.

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