What in the world did he just say!?!?
I don’t believe church is a place that fosters growth in young black men ages 25-35. Next time you go to church, count the young men you see, (maybe speak and say a kind word or two lol) and you’ll see my observation. When you take a look, notice that children are accounted for, high school students, mothers, and fathers (typically active in the church–mostly deacons, ushers, and parking lot security) are all accounted for. But not US.
Heres the Breakdown. We as young black men are typically taught our gifting’s are in our legs. Sometimes the only way we get out of our neighborhoods is through sports. The schools we get recruited to attend are often out of state, hours from our homes and communities and once we get out to those schools there typically aren’t churches out there that can connect with us and pour into us individually (small groups would be ideal). After 4 grueling years of being an indentured servant to the NCAA and NAIA, we’re sent back home with a cap and a piece of paper. To get a job at all in most cases you need a degree and some experience in the field (HOW CAN YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE, YOU WERE LITERALLY JUST SITTING IN CLASS), and guess what? Hiring managers don’t look at how many practices you attended, how many points you scored or your size and weight. They’re just looking to see if you interview well and fit the needs of their company. Oh by the way; when did we have time for interview coaching? Before or after practice? If you were an athlete then you understand the grueling schedule: 6 am weights, breakfast at 7:30, class from 9-12, Lunch, class from 1-2:30, team meeting at 3, individual position breakouts til 3:30 (going over plays watching film), getting treatment or taped at the athletic trainer, actual practice 4:30-6:30, treatment with athletic trainers if needed, Dinner somehow before 7pm when the cafeteria closes, and if you’re still awake by the grace of God at this point, do homework. When a student athlete returns home (I mean seriously, like 3% of athletes get drafted, and this is what we worked our whole lives for), they are like a plant that’s been taken from soil and dropped on cement. If you survived that’s amazing. you were able to push through the incredibly dense ground and find some footing and grow some roots.
Aside from individual efforts from parents (thats if we have both parents with ideal financial situations), coaches and whatever mentors get scattered into our lives, WE DON’T GET POURED INTO. Imagine graduating and having to transition into the work force and the hard work you’re most accustomed to is the type of blood sweat and tears you can only get from the gym, the gridiron, or the basketball court. Eventually we breakdown and deal with different types of depressions and we don’t get the support we need. We no longer feel useful.
We become warriors without a battle to fight. Imagine the mental anguish we endure sitting in an office or working a cash register trying to climb the corporate ladder. As our body deteriorates, our conditioning leaves us and our passions are stripped from us. We need a support system specifically designed for us! We hold the future of this country in our hands. The question is, will they be debilitated hands or able and willing hands? We need guidance on how to lead a woman, raise children and guide a family. There has to be an end put to the “just figure it out as you go” method. Stop having “mens conferences” and inviting speakers that are 50-60 that don’t even attempt to connect with us. Have a mens conference that markets to us. We need speakers that aren’t past their prime as well as the retired warriors that are focused on our growth. I am challenging every church I step foot in, to create a program or ministry designed to encourage this age group and facilitate growth and healthy discussion.
We can continue to do our best and leave the rest up to God. But we need support. Stop holding out. Stop telling us to just get it together.
Church and school are no place for young black men; so let’s make it one.