THE BLACK EXPERIENCE: Where are all the villages?

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I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” However, nowadays those villages seem to have evaporated into thin air. 

It was not only the duty of the parents to discipline us or provide sound advice, but there were also individuals in the community having the right to “check” us if we were out doing something we had no business doing. 

Long gone are the trustworthy neighborhood patrolmen that always had the best interest at heart for our youth. Why is this? I believe there are quite a few reasons that have contributed to this grim reality.

For starters, we as a community need to bring back shame. Holding people accountable for the unsound decisions they make, whether it be in your family or not, should not be considered taboo. 

Secondly, our parents need to do a better job at setting a positive example. There must be less profanity and derogatory music on the ride to school in the mornings – children mimic what they see. At my big age of 32, I’ve never once gotten black out drunk or experimented with different drugs because of the disdain my mother had for these intoxicating substances. 

And when it comes to child rearing, there are numerous ways to skin a cat. Instead of responding with anger or frustration to everything a child does, let’s put our kids in a position to use that energy positively. How about introducing our youth to extracurricular activities outside of sports and video games that will foster healthy brain development and proficient communication skills? How about empowering people outside of your immediate circle of friends and family to become role models? 

I’m all for disciplining kids when they need it. Disrespect was never tolerated in my household and when I stepped out of line I had to deal with the consequences. Troubling as it may sound, children today don’t fear consequences. 

For example, the other day I was sitting in my car talking on the phone with a client when I saw something that disturbed me to my core. A young boy, who couldn’t have been more than five or six years old, struck another young boy with a stick repeatedly. The little boy who was being struck asked politely for the other boy to stop but it seemed as if his pleas of discomfort were entertainment for the young boy.

I wanted to step out of my car and stop the young boys from engaging in this type of conduct, but in all honesty I was afraid to so do. I immediately thought about the repercussions I could potentially face if I offered my two cents on the matter. An unruly parent confronting me about how I handled their child is not how I wanted to spend an afternoon. 

My apprehension scared me. It made me realize there is a deeper problem than what I see on the surface. Yea, I could have stopped the incident from continuing, potentially preventing harm or trauma for the little boy. But the way our society has normalized “staying out of other folks business”, I continued to do just that. Not my best moment, I’ll admit. 

Am I the problem? Or, am I a part of the solution? At the end of the day, we all need each other! Our communities once had a sense of pride that resonated deep within all of us. Instead of harping on what could’ve been done, I decided to use that incident as a teachable moment. 

As a Black man that has undeniable love for his race and his people, I will no longer sit idly by when I know I can do something. I’m no hero by any means but I am a man, a man who has lived and learned from the village that raised me, nurtured me, and continues to do so. I would be a fool if I didn’t spread what knowledge I have to the youth to prevent them from falling into similar “do-nothing” traps in which I found myself.  

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will all the troubles of the Black community be solved overnight. But one thing is for sure, we need each other. We need each other!

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THE BLACK EXPERIENCE: Where are all the villages?

By Joshua Martin
May 20, 2024