Murders in Richmond are down. According to the most recent and available crime statistics, by which such metrics are made, Richmond is better off. The city is not as violent as it has been in the last 8-10 years. This is of little comfort to the families and communities in Richmond who are still reeling and grieving from murders of more young Black males.
There are a plethora of plans and programs and many social prescriptions to the problems of our boys. Concerning fatherlessness, crime, incarceration, and mental health many seek and claim to be advocates for young Black males and their dominant issues. Money and energy flows to capitols, hospitals and cathedrals for programs and ministries. We are grateful for the good folk who are putting in the work to make a difference in the treasure of the Black community.
What more can You do? What more can We do; Richmond do; or any city do, to radically engage and positively empower young Black males? Did you dare ask?
We can help our young men take on a new reality of identity, responsibility and accountability in their own families and in their communities. The city needs a new brand of urban leadership. The young men are already here. They are now. They will not be ignored. They are in our streets and in our news.
The reality of a new identity begins with, “I’m Possible!”. Possibility thinking is core to the cure. Right believing begins right behaving. When our young men began to view themselves from the privilege and potential of being “possible” their perspective on positive versus negative choices begins to take shape.
The reality of a new responsibility is another radical idea. Why are our boys so bored? Have we thought through the idea that we have a generation of young men who have never had anyone give them a responsibility in their city or for their city?
We have to articulate a vision of positive roles in our communities that are possible for our young men. If this is the neighborhood where they will one day own their own business, buy their first house or send their child to school, do they think differently? We can begin to create a different set of expectations and hopefully efforts from our young men.
Finally, the reality of a new accountability is where the deal is made or broken. The only way for young men to be held accountable is if they have faithful and available men in their lives. By the age of thirteen most young men begin to lose their hearing. The voice of a mother becomes an ignored whisper or a noisome bother. A young man who has the presence and the cadence of positive men in his life has the best chance of being called on to the carpet instead of being marched into the courtroom.
Bishop Sean Teal, Th.D.
New Hope Baptist Church