By Brandon Jones
It is time for healing in Black community. The Black community is in pain, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically. From the Trayvon Martin case, to the continuous attacks on President Obama, to the current debate of the Black church and homosexuality, the Black community is at a tipping point.
It is time to be at the front line of this tipping point. It is time to be proactive to stop these disparities instead of reactive to these situations. The disparities that leaders such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Huey P. Newton, Stokely Carmichael and Jessie Jackson spoke of 30 and 40 years ago are still present today.
We continue to have disproportionally high rates in areas such as unemployment, domestic violence, community violence, single-parent households, dropout rates, police brutality, HIV/AIDS rates, etc. In many of the statistics that are positive and constructive, we have extremely low numbers, while negative and destructive statistics show that we are often at the top of the list.
Why is this? Why do we seem to continue to be on a downward spiral in society? Have we not learned to be and do better? This is what we need healing from.
Whether right or wrong, when discussing the ills and disparities within the African American community, many things are discussed, such as violence, drugs, poverty, and emotional, physical and spiritual health. However, there are two that come to the forefront, especially in the urban community: racism and Black men’s role.
Let’s start with one that many have difficulty with — whether Black, White or brown — and that is the issue of racism. One group wants to focus on what many believe is America’s original sin, chattel slavery, and they believe that pervasive structural racism still exists. Historians agree that chattel slavery’s destruction of family relationships to this day undermines African Americans’ ability to form healthy relationships and families. (Joy Degruy 2005) Another group wants to believe that racism isn’t that big of a problem, and besides, we have a Black president.
Some Blacks have been healed on an individual basis. However, the community as a whole continues to suffer. When the Black man suffers, everybody in the family and community suffers tenfold.
It’s been said that men are responsible for cultivating hope. The presupposition is that men themselves have hope, for how can he cultivate that which he does not have? And how can he heal from pain that he refuses to acknowledge because he believes to do so is unmanly?
Unwittingly and helplessly, Black men pass their pain on to the women and children in their lives, and the cycle of slavery’s devastating pain continues and its profits soar. And yet, there are those who still ask “Why the focus on Black men healing?”
African American men are not responsible for America’s original sin and the pervasive structural racism built upon its foundation, but we better take the responsibility for our healing from its devastating impacts upon us as Black men so we can be healthy crusaders with our women in rebuilding our families, vital communities and capable children.
Without healing from individual and intergenerational trauma it’s hard to fully experience a relationship that reflects respect for all the people in the relationship — including the children — and move forward like Sankofa towards becoming a safe and healthy part of the community.
The 2012 Community Empowerment Through Black Men Healing Conference kicks off on June 21 and June 22 at Metropolitan State University. This is the fourth year of the annual conference. The mission of the conferences are to offer alternative ways of thinking about community building by addressing intergenerational pain and trauma that act as barriers to healing, collaboration, sustainable change and community empowerment.
The focus of this year’s conference is “Compassionate Accountability.” The conference is open to all community members, social workers, educators, law enforcement, students, community organizers, and social-service professionals from multiple cultural backgrounds.
Black males have a significant role in the Black community. Whether their role is father, brother, uncle, cousin, friend, coach, teacher, preacher, neighbor, or owner, Black men have a significant affect on the Black community. The affect of Black males can have a positive or negative impact. Either way, Black males play a part in the paradigm of the Black community.
Black males are at the core of empowering the Black community. The Community Empowerment Through Black Men Healing Conference may be seen as a rebellious or edgy event that looks at alternative ways to healing and developing the Black community. However, in the words of Sam Simmons, cofounder of the conference, “Some change is just about being brave enough to get out of the box.”
For more information about the conference or authors, call 612-721-0106 go to www.brothershealing.com or www.healingbroth ers.com
Brandon Jones is campaign coordinator for Be More Project: The Family Partnership.