Published On: Fri, Aug 18th, 2017

A Missed Opportunity to Erase Damaging Stereotypes

By: C. Ron Allen

When Joel Maldonado arrived at Village Academy to drop off his three children on Monday morning, he was overwhelmed by the sight of men, lots of them, standing in the hallway to greet kids on the first day of school.

“It made me feel good to see that,” he said. “It made you feel like they care about the kids.”

Like Maldonado, I agree that the message was loud and clear that the sea of men wanted to give them a hearty welcome and engorgement to do well.

What I found troubling was that of the 64 men, only four were black. On a campus where close to 100 percent of the students are nonwhite, there should have been more than a handful of men who looked like them there.

Let me make this clear, I appreciate and thank my white brothers for supporting us in this effort, especially those who have been there over the last three years and those from Royal Life Center.

I also found it disturbing considering that several of my black brothers told me via email a week earlier that they would be there. A few wives said they would have their husbands and sons there also. But when it was time to deliver, they failed our kids.

I am embarrassed to admit but the mother may have been right when, before the event, she declared our men as being unreliable. When she asked me, “Why can’t we [women] come out to welcome them too? We have been mothers and fathers to them,” my response was that we wanted the kids to see black men in their rightful places: at the front door welcoming them back.

When she learned of the dismal turnout, she simply quipped, “I told you those sorry a…s were not going to show up.”

Brothers, we have to do better. We must do better if we want respect from our women, society in general and our kids.

There is a fundamental reason why it was important for you to be there en masse. Our children see white teachers every day, and study shows that black boys who had a black teacher or a black male role model during their elementary school years were less likely to drop out of high school. It also linked the presence of black teachers to kids’ expectations of attending college.

Having been a mentor for more than 25 years, I have always maintained that if many of our black boys never see anyone who looks like them in authority in the classroom, chances are they will think, “Hey, college is just not for me”. Then they would not have an incentive to work hard in school.

Just imagine how impactful it would have been that morning for those kids to see what the rest of their lives can be — not on TV, not on the Internet, but right there in front of them.

My black brothers often complain that when they see themselves portrayed in the media today, it is often in the form of a mugshot or a hashtag.

But on Monday, they had a chance to dismantle the damaging stereotypes of Black men in America.

It is a fact that those dominant and pervasive images provoke an inescapable infection on the nation’s psyche. Yes, it etches an imprint that distills the identity of black men to nothing more than “dangerous” and “uneducated.”

But brothers, you fuel that notion when you are not in place to welcome our darling periwinkles back to school – especially when you do not have a plausible reason to be absent.

If you do not do your part to reform these perceptions, the younger generation is bound to emulate you.

C. Ron Allen can be reached at  HYPERLINK “mailto:crallen@delraybeachtribune.com” crallen@delraybeachtribune.com or 561-665-0151.

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