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Hello world, just a few days ago I received a phone call from the man I respect and refer to as my father. For those of you who don't know, I grew up within the California State Forster Care system. My last placement was with a family that I recognize as "God Sent". So, Coach (as I commonly refer to him, was my first collegiate wrestling coach) called me a bit weary from his workday (he is a Jr. High school Principle in the city of Fresno, Ca). After hearing him vent for a moment, he posed the question, "Am I failing my African- American students, is society failing our African American youth?"
Wow! How powerful of a question is that? I could not help but to offer an ambiguous answer. In the back of my mind I recall the last two lines from W.E. Henleys Poem "Invictus", "I am the Master of my Faith, I am the Captain of my Soul". I truly believe that "man creates his own destiny", yet from a mythological standpoint, if Promethean had not given fire to humans, then maybe we would still be "cold".
Subjectively speaking, society offers success in the form of "Sports" and "Entertainment" to our African -American youth; more so than prestige in the areas of academic achievement. My first undefeated season was during my seventh grade year wresting for Coach Mike Darling. That same year I helped our math team to victory during the city wide Jr. High school mathematics competition. During my eighth grade year I was suspended from school for five days, which made me ineligible for competing in the city wrestling championships. I also missed that year's mathematics competition. Which do you think I regret more?
Is it a popularity issue, which enables our African American youth from having experiences out of entertainment and sports? It doesn't cost much money to sing in our church choirs or carry a football up and down a field. "He, who fails to plan, plans to fail (proverbs)." My plans as a youth were to not sell drugs, and still figure out where my next meal was coming from. Not to say that every African American child suffers the same afflictions. Yet by percentage, there are more persons of color occupying jail cells than any other race of people in the United States. Which means their will be more adult African Americans sitting in those cells feeling as if society failed them when they were in their youth.
Coach, never failed me, which was part of my answer to him. As an African American youth, I recall having conversations with him that I knew would not take place with any other person on earth. To this day he (Coach) hasn't changed one bit. However, he is only one man, society consist of many. Hopefully there are African -American youths who will speak of me and of you the reader as I have of Coach. Then and only then, will this argument have a chance for a positive answer.
So, before you answer the question posed at the beginning of this article, ask yourself if any African- American youths consider you a positive mentor or role model?