Black Experience: A salute to those who are ‘putting in the work’

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Jackson Advocate Engagement Editor Joshua Martin

As the seasons change and the leaves begin to turn, I find myself in a state of reflection, marveling at my growth and my relentless pursuit at becoming more self-sufficient. Now a man in my early 30s, I have arrived at a point in life where I can take a look back at the journey and appreciate the many lessons I’ve learned along the way. The men in my life who provided me with guidance and, unbeknownst to them, gave me the standards I live by ‘til this day. The village of family and friends that kept me in their prayers and did their best to prevent harm from coming my way.  

 The late great African American author James Baldwin once said, “I am what time, circumstance, history have made of me, certainly, but I am, also, much more than that. So are we all.”

At one point in my life, I admit these words would have fallen upon deaf ears, but now I see the beauty in what Brother Baldwin exclaimed.  

I am more. Much more than where I come from, my financial circumstances. Greater than what I could even fathom. We all are. 

Over the past few years, since I’ve been in journalism, the city of Jackson has made the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons. With everything from increasing homicide rates, to public feuds amongst city leaders, and a water issue that is indicative of a failing infrastructure that’s been plaguing us for years. Most recently, the state has had a welfare scandal where a “Mississippi icon’’ stole millions out of the mouths of the underserved and less fortunate. Honestly, I would like to dispel some notions – notions that routinely paint the citizens of this state and this city – my city, your city – in a bad light. 

As a lifelong Jacksonian, I have been faced with some of the same issues a lot of young Black males encounter. Despite coming from a single parent home, there were men in my life that set positive examples for me to follow. My grandfather taught me to never settle and to give it my all. My stepfather showed me the importance of hard work. And many brothers in my church home routinely give me advice and talk with me about the Lord’s grace and mercy. I was very fortunate to have the mindframe to receive these messages and apply them to my everyday life. However, a lot of young men don’t have that guidance, that love from another man. That’s why I believe it’s so important for us to regain the mindset that it takes a village to raise a child. 

I am here today to share words of admiration and respect for those individuals who are on the ground level, really “putting in work” everyday in crafting and developing the lives of the young Black men in our community. 

Our teenage years are our most impressionable and also most formative. Delayed gratification, consistency, and focus are all skills that are passed down by being in the presence of a strong male role model. A village that consists of the relationships forged throughout this life with the sole purpose of turning the perfect stranger into a lifelong ally. 

The real heroes don’t wear capes. They don’t have superpowers or some intriguing outer appearance. They are the men who are impacting the lives of so many youth by developing their decision making, goal setting, and problem solving. They are forging relationships with the next generation that will ultimately benefit the city as a whole. 

Black men, in everything, don’t forget to be proud of yourselves. Remember the words of Mr. Baldwin. You are more! I salute you! 

Republish This Story

Copy and Paste the below text.

Black Experience: A salute to those who are ‘putting in the work’

By Joshua Martin
November 3, 2022