Black males in their teens walking around in groups can illicit fear. It is hard to dismiss the long T-shirts and jeans hanging almost to their knees. The questions arise whether a gun is tucked under their shirts that are two sizes too big. What is there to hide?
The weapon they may be carrying is for protection. Yet, these young men are trying to protect themselves from something and it is more complicated than you may think. The majority of black males between the ages of 10-21 are carrying hurt and pain they are trying to hide from their mothers and grandmothers. They have the weight of the world to carry on small shoulders.
According to data released in 2007 by the National Center for Health Statistics almost 72 percent of unwed black women had given birth. Many of these young women admitted their children were “wanted” but “not at that time”. Therefore, you have many young women under 21 giving birth to children they were not prepared for – mentally or financially.
It is a small number of fathers who remain in their son’s lives physically, but do not have the means to support them. It is frustrating for a young man to take care of a child when he himself is 18 and has no high school diploma. He has no interest in school or to get a GED.
Boys are suffering without their fathers to educate them on life, how to treat women, money matters and how to prepare for their futures. This duty is left up to a mother who had them at 15 and is still learning the ropes about life herself at 33. How does a thirty-three year-old woman teach a boy of 18 on how to be a man?
She is limited unless her father is still in the picture and can be a mentor for his grandson.
Fear is a real emotion. Some people reach out for other ways to protect themselves because there was no father around to teach them about bullies. A boy of 8 goes to school every day to get harassed about his stutter or his clothes. He is now sad, hurt, and afraid. He seeks out those who seem to have a lot of power. He will go to the gang leaders who can let him have a gun for some money so he can threaten his bullies. The eight year-old boys’ terror ends, but the one for the neighborhood has just begun.
The mother of the eight year-old has no idea what is happening because she is working three jobs to support him and his two siblings on her own. The father walked out of the picture the day the boy popped into the world. The mother had two more kids by two other men (another issue for another blog). Now this young boy thinks he is the man of the house and is quick to look out for his younger siblings who are four and five. What a responsibility at eight!
Guns give them power and authority. It scrapes away some of the pain and hurt. Boys don’t cry. They have to do something to maintain ‘edge’ in their neighborhoods. Boys aren’t supposed to show emotion because that is for girls and gays. They walk in groups, talk in threats, and carry weapons to conceal the truth.