Changing the Game for Boys Who Need Respect
I was asked to be a part of a meeting in the Mayor's office to offer solutions to address the unfortunate act of madness that injured nineteen people and made the national news. I am encouraged by the Mayor 's attempt to get everyone to play a part in the solution. So I did, as one connected to our children and as I believe any citizen should do, I went to share a list of action items government and business could take to provide a path to “man swag” for boys and young men in this city.
Oh, some of you didn't understand that. You see, every male child born NEEDS to feel respected as a man once he is of age, and that creates a two level problem for boys who were not raised by men who had achieved that status as breadwinners for their families:
The unfathered boy doesn't even know about being respected for what he can do for his people unless he is fortunate enough to be exposed to and cared about by a man or men who earn their self respect in that way. Without such signpost in his life, his concept of respect is limited to the kind you get from bullying or hurting people, fear. On the street fear and respect are synonymous. You don't need academics to be feared on the street, just a gun and a willingness to use it. So unfathered, unmentored boys play king of the hill with Glocks.
The lack of legitimate economic opportunity and the lucrative market for drugs created by our drug laws that drive addicts to our neighborhoods with tons of money puts a young man in the position of making money or not, surviving or not and once caught selling stuff to people who found him to buy it, he is criminalized, and now he can't get a job and can't even sell fruit on street corner.
So I offered government and business solutions based on what over the years has become an analysts embraced by even the lofty towers of academia.
Put 15-16 year old sports program back in our parks. Now boys who are engaged by adult male coaches get REJECTED as soon as they make 15 years old. They go from having a productive powerful male influence in their lives to feeling REJECTED just as their feelings of manhood arrive. Anyone who saw the video of that coach who was fired at Rutgers witnessed how powerful a figure a coach is in a boys life. Those athletes wouldn't have taken that from anyone else.
Stop processing kids for weed possession. Not only is it a waste of police/prosecuter/court time but it is so inequitable. Everyone knows that if you can afford a ticket to Jazz Fest you can smoke all the weed you want. Having police process young men for weed possession just waste their time and also gives the bad cops an excuse to harass boys, who after being “f__ked with” will become avowed enemies of the police. Sure take them home and tell mama, but don't create a criminal. If the feds or state want the trouble, let them use their resources.
Get a living wage in the hotel industry. New Orleans has some of the highest hotel rates in the nation and except for a few bright spots, the absolute lowest wages. This is not just about the hospitality workers but the overall economy. A few dollars more in a hotel worker's check would not only improve their lives by allowing them more parenting time, broaden employment since people wouldn't have to work more than one job, and put more money on the street for all local businesses, from department stores to car dealers. Actually if the industry is wise they would see that the current bleak local economics that they drive will destroy their profitability by hurting tourism. Without more money on the street, in ten years they'll be a shooting at every Mardi Gras parade rather than Second Lines. These kids aren't afraid to die, much less the police.
Let people sell fresh fruit and novelty items on corners, with rules. It breaks my heart everytime I see the panhandlers and pimps who replaced the brother who was selling fresh fruit and cold bottled water at Esplanade and Claiborne. He was turning men's lives around, men who's only hope was a guy like him because the rest of us wouldn't hire them.
Ask businesses and government agencies to change that damn question on the job applications. How about “Have you ever been convicted of stealing, committing fraud or hurting someone?” Hell, to me, a kid who was just selling dope was trying to avoid all of the above, an indicator of resourcefulness and character. The Ten Commandments don't say a thing about selling something to someone who found you to buy it.
So, we in the Silverback Society and many others in the community do what we can to help boys pursue their RESPECT in the right way, but since the new welfare rules puts their mothers on the street in low paying jobs that require too much time and split shifts, they are getting less and less of her love and attention, latch key at 9 or 10. And sure we all in the community can step it up a notch... as people are doing, but like they say, “Don't hate the player, hate the game.” And the only folks who can change the game are government and the business community. Its still hard to make bricks without straw.
And by the way register and vote, so at least govermant has to respond. Let's see what happens now