The undeniable history of our forefathers tells many stories of power, strength, leadership and prosperity. African kings like Mansa Musa, King of Mali, was a powerful leader who established trade, built schools, courts, and enclosed the cities of Timbuktu and Gao within his empire. Men like Musa seem almost ficticious when compared to the lives of Black men in America today.
We struggle with economics, status, equality, and even our families. Undoubtedly, we are living under completely different circumstances some 700 hundred years later, but through the blood of our ancestors -- Black men still possess the abilities and talents to be leaders. Though we engage in countless debates regarding the blending of roles between Black men and women in our communities, a noteworthy point must be made -- the social, economic, and political roles held by Black men will always influence our overall success or failure in life.
When Black men are empowered, they succeed. When a Black man is a respected leader, has social and political status, and has control over his own economic and community interests -- his overall stability as a human being rests on solid ground. When the opposite is true, his evolution and growth as a man is impeded significantly and results in the types of social ills we see today.
A man is socially reared, and some would argue genetically programmed, to produce results and protect his posessions. Being a man of color adds another dimension to an already difficult task. Many men find themselves fighting to identify their place in the world and more specifically, their own communities. The roles of Black men in society have diminished through decades of unfair social practices, discrimination, loss of jobs, inadequate healthcare, and negative publicity.
What the Black community needs now, is a solution. How do we strengthen ourselves as Black men? How should Black men think about the future? What specific areas of life, community, and family should we think about? What can we do to help validate our existence when so many circumstances seem to call for our demise?
Our lineage maps us to authoritative, capable, and highly respected African leaders. Even today, a Black man's presence in many social environments can create intrigue, fear, wonderment, respect, and even jealousy.
Black women have a long established history as the backbone of African-American families. They exhibit the natural instincts to nurture, raise children, and establish the groundwork for building and supporting families. Similarly, Black men have a natural ability to lead and must occupy such roles in society in order to be successful. We must learn to create and build these roles, and not expect them to be handed to us by others.
In an effort to advance and reach the goals we strive for, we must find ways to circumvent those systems that seek to prohibit our success. When we can't get banks to loan us money, we must find a way to own the bank. When we discover that the school systems didn't teach us important historical facts, we need to become the teachers and teach ourselves.
When society asks, "What's wrong with Black men?", the answer is clear. We haven't been able, or allowed, to be men. We desire the opening of the same economic doors, and the unobstruction of the same political pathways that have been granted to other men. We want the ability to build businesses and provide for our families without discriminatory restrictions. Some of these desires, we must create ourselves. Others, we must demand.
Often, Black men in America feel degraded based on race, class, or financial status. This fuels anger and resentment towards anyone or anything that works against us.
We can reverse that trend by creating stronger families; mentoring our youth; encouraging self-enrichment through science, mathematics, and history; and preserving the leadership abilities we were born with.