How St. John can really make a difference

Forgive me in this post but I’m feeling a bit cynical today. I’ve been working out a little too hard lately.

Well here we go. In the wake of the Trayvon Martin travesty that has literally stunned the nation (although I don’t know why we’re stunned.) St. John Baptist Church is having a community discussion next week. They have asked members of the community to come out and talk with representatives from Ho Co’s finest about racial profiling. I love my people. Really I do. If God granted me a second chance at life after death and asked me what race I wanted to be I would gladly choose African-American all over again. But we talk waaaaaay too much. We need to be more proactive.

It is fantastic to see so many people finally getting engage in discussion about race. It’s a very sensitive subject and I am aware that it can make people very nervous. Nonetheless, there are far too many instances of blatant racism in our faces for us to go on ignoring it.  We desperately need to have honest dialogue about how we feel about one another and how stereotypes shape our perceptions. We really need to talk about how we can sometimes perpetuate those stereotypes in our actions. I’m glad to see St. John spearheading this gathering. It’s a positive move and I may sit in on it for a spell and take notes. They deserve my support.

Trayvon Martin’s death may have ignited another movement similar to the Civil Rights movement where my people can rise up and make the country take notice of some things. But if you really want to create a movement where we protect our young Black men you need to empower them. Young Trayvon probably didn’t know anything about the Stand Your Ground law. And he probably didn’t know that if he took a swing at George Zimmerman, that the law would be on his side if he pulled out a gun and killed him. We all know it now and in the lovely democracy that we live in, we can change that with the right kind of knowledge and leg work. Empowerment is the key.

You know what I want St. John to do in addition to having yet another community discussion. Check this out. The other day three boys right here in Columbia were arrested in connection to some group robberies in Long Reach. I don’t know the specifics but I’m going to take a guess here and say they were probably Black teens. I want St. John to bail them out. I want them to go to their parents and have a discussion about paying for their defense. I want to see members of the church at every single arraignment and court date. And if the court is merciful enough to let these boys go, I want St. John to assign some younger Black men from the church to stay actively involved in the boys lives from now until they live on their own. A team of three to five men per teen. I’m talking about weekly check-ins with the family at the minimum of 40 weeks a year. Serious commitment. Oh, can’t you see what I mean St. John? Walk the walk.

Go with the parents to the schools and find out why he’s failing in Math or English Lit or Biology. Get the boys some tutoring. Help them prepare for the SATs. If college is not their path then help him find the trade that works for his skill set. If the parents are struggling to pay rent, find out why. Help them set a family budget. Support that family when they have a crisis or a conflict they can’t resolve peacefully. Send those young adult male role models that wear those clean suits into the church every Sunday out to those boys and teach them how to manage stress, hormones, peer pressure, and school. Help them get summer jobs. I know you can do that St. John. Proaction is the very core of empowerment and this is how you make things better.

I am all for changing laws and holding folks accountable including the police and elected officials. But what are we doing on our end? What are we doing to ensure that our young Black males are not continuing the same dangerous cycle that has put so many of them in prison instead of college? I know there are social workers to do the things I listed but they are overwhelmed with cases and they could use some reinforcement. We need to take care of our own people a little more and not leave it in the hands of the government to solve our problems. We need to work in tandem with social workers to make a difference.  It really does take a village to raise a child. That’s where the church comes in…literally. I’m not a Bible thumper but isn’t this God’s work?  Didn’t Jesus go to the people and serve them where they are? This is probably more Chirist-like than paying tithes.

I love St. John. They are a powerful force in Howard County and I’m certain that they have many programs in place to help the youth whether you’re a member or not. Let’s keep that up folks. Time to dig deeper to make some strides in uplifting the Black race. After the community discussions are over and you’ve cried all the tears you can about Trayvon and the youth of today, remember there are several Trayvons right outside your window in Long Reach. Protect them with continuous support and knowledge.

Hmmm…That wasn’t so bad. Maybe I’m not so cynical at 4:30 am. Good morning y’all. Thanks for reading!!

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