Home > Uncategorized > It’s Time to Go Back to the Basics by Kelvin Lassiter

It’s Time to Go Back to the Basics by Kelvin Lassiter

In the United States 18.4 percent of children were born to unmarried women by the year 1980.  By the year 2008, that figured had jumped to 40.6 percent according to statistics by the US Census Bureau. There had to be a reason for the alarming increase of births to unmarried women.  One philosophy that may have contributed to the shift is the challenges that men face in keeping their family together.

Since our arrival in America on the slave ships, black men have shared a rich tradition of being leaders. Countless challenges have been conquered such as slavery, Jim Crow, and wars.  Today’s training of the black man may not come from home by a responsible man, but from the streets or the criminal justice system.  These are not excuses for the brother’s behavior, just facts.  Those methods do not place emphasis on the family structure. 

Black men have a natural instinct to survive by any means necessary, legal or illegal.  Black men who choose the legal method of survival sometimes are frowned upon and considered soft or sellouts.  Black men who choose the illegal path may be glorified in society in rap videos, and award shows which are just mere entertainment, not reality.  The black man, who was once viewed as a leader, is now looked upon as a follower.  This affects the woman, which keeps the institution of family interrupted. 

Some black women feel they don’t need a black man to complete them and some black men feel some black women are too confrontational.  This is the great divide that produces fatherless children and single family homes.  It is no secret that a home with a responsible male presence increases the success of our children.  This does not undermine the households without a male presence, but sheds light on the fact that a male can lead by example and create positive outcomes if given the opportunity.  Men now more than ever have to continuously prove themselves because of men who walk away from their obligations.  It increases the pressure on the man who is stepping up to the plate and taking care of business.  Women also have an obligation to stop using children as pawns to repay a beef that has happened and charging men guilty before proven innocent. 

In order to change the climate in our community, we must first change how we value each other.  History continues to show us the importance of black women by the success obtained by black men.  There would not have been a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. without Coretta.  There would not have been a Malcolm X without Dr. Betty Shabazz.  President Barack Obama would not have been inaugurated to become our nation’s first black President without Michelle.  It is safe to say that on some level, those women would not have become who they are without their men as well. 

Our children today need to see togetherness out of adults.  It starts with forgiving one another for bad choices and bad behavior.  Our children suffer more when forgiveness is not a part of our lives.  A child will also develop unhealthy relationships from the examples set growing up.  Healthy relationships build self-worth and confidence, two key ingredients in becoming successful while being black in America.  Antwone Fisher learned this lesson early on while being raised in an abusive foster home.  His strength and courage propelled him to become a sailor in the United States Navy.  His story became a movie starring Denzel Washington.

What will become of your story?  Will the outcome inspire others to understand the importance of family such as Antwone Fisher?   Will your decisions result in adding statistics that destroy your future and community?  Here are a few suggestions that are part of basic family etiquette:

1. If you find yourself outside of the normal family dynamic, then explore extended family members to help you.  Blood may be thicker than water; however, it’s always good to go to the well when that option presents itself.  Extended family members include members of your circle who you can depend on who are not a part of your family tree but share the bond as if they were.

2. Choose a family you admire to model your family after.  It can be close relatives, or positive role models.  Also read books on parenting, children, self-esteem, and family magazines.

3. Do not ever give up on your family, the strength begins and ends with the people responsible for creating life.  This responsibility should be reviewed before the opportunity presents itself to start a family.

We are living in a time that this generation has never experienced and it will take a family structure filled with togetherness to make it through.  It will take young and old to realize that this is a “family affair” as Sly and the Family Stone so eloquently put it.  It is time to go back to basics. What will you do?

Kelvin Lassiter is an author, speaker, and addiction prevention consultant based in Washington, DC.  For more information, please visit www.kelvinspeaks.com.

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