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What Black Men Must Do Now




Won’t somebody tell me, answer if you can! Want somebody tell me, what is the soul of a man. I’m going to ask the question, answer if you can. If anybody here can tell me, what is the soul of a man?

~Blind Willie Johnson

Perhaps the title of this essay should more aptly read, What Black Men Should Do More Of. There are plenty of black men enrolling in college and graduating; there are plenty of men joining investment clubs and learning how to save and spend money; there are plenty of men spending time with their children and learning how to be great dads. Plenty. But not enough.

So, what we need is a revolution of sorts. That revolution must begin with our black boys. The abolitionist Frederick Douglas wrote, It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

If a revolution is to begin with our black boys, it must be launched by us on their behalf. That means we must become anti-anti-intellectual; we must insist our black boys read and we as men must begin to see our struggle within a global context.

First, become anti-anti-intellectual. Anti-intellectualism is hostility to and mistrust of intellect, intellectuals commonly expressed as deprecation of education and the dismissal of art, literature and science as impractical. Thus, to become ‘anti-anti-intellectual’ is take a stand against ignorance.

Too many of our children have a dismissive attitude toward study and scholarship and making the grade; attributes often ridiculed as “acting white”. Millions of our children are soaring to academic heights and moving into colleges and universities. Unfortunately, too many millions are not. Black men must set the bar and set it high, beginning in our immediate families. We must demand academic excellence from our sons, grandsons, nephews and even little man down da block.

Second, black boys must read on grade-level. This is intricately connected to the first point. In fact, books are the engine of the anti-anti-intellectualism that must begin on our watch. Black boys must read, but black men must lead by becoming readers, by elevating books to the pinnacle of success. I have often said if our homes have more DVD movies than books, there is a problem. According to studies, huge percentages of our black boys are not reading on grade-level (with third and eighth grade the most alarming markers). If this trend continues, the school-to-prison pipeline will only worsen.

Finally, black men must think globally. In our time, we are witnessing an American version of an “Arab Spring”, the series of anti-government protests, uprisings and rebellions that spread across much of the Arab world in the early 2010’s. The murder of George Floyd has led to a new consciousness among African Americans, just as the brutal murder of Emmett Till in 1955 led to the birth of the modern Civil Rights Movement. A sense of passion is sweeping across America in ways only incidental to the bigoted presence in high places. Black men must take the mantle of leadership and connect our struggle to the movement of black peoples across the globe.

The bottom line is that black men are leaders – by design and by divine decree. The American experience has bruised us, but it has not broken us.

The revolution I am calling for is one grounded in spirit. God’s spirit resident within us – the soul of a man – connects us to not only a bright future, but to a glorious past.

It is a call for men to be men again. In the home. In the church. In the community. To reclaim the mantle that has been stripped from us by our collective American experience.

Where we dare to reassert our natural place in the lives of our black boys, sons, nephews and brothers, we will find the soul of a man.

Download Watch Your Life: The Believer's Guide to Thinking, Speaking and Acting Confidently in a Belief-Challenged World!

And stay tuned for more details on the upcoming Watch Your Life Spring Bible Study series!

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