Are our black men losing face? Should we have bumper stickers with colorful slogans such as ‘SAVE OUR MALES’? The problem of lack of progress of black boys and young men has become evident, not only in Dominica and the rest of the Caribbean but also in Europe and North America. Most social scientists and gender researchers will tell you that they are worried about this new Y-chromosome (male) crop. Due to modern-day dynamics and other more complicated issues, a frightening and alarmingly large percentage of our young men, unfortunately, are losing and have lost their way.
.While we are aware that there needs to be a larger forum and a new sense of order for exploring the broader strategies for dealing with this massive and disturbing issue, we should be practical and realistic. But we can all agree that one of the first places to start in reversing this trend is the home. Fathers (nurturing and supportive daddies), not ‘baby daddies’; need to be at the forefront of this larger discussion and solution.
Therefore, our strategy should be, to begin with, a project that is hands-on and results-oriented that fulfills and mitigates that call to action in Dominica and the region. The hope is that this project will lead to broader collaborations and cooperation among artists, business personnel, scholars, law enforcers, educators, writers, activists, civil society and governments.
It is a fact that our girls and young women (X- Chromosomes) are winning; boys and young men are losing. The Y-chromosome crop desperately needs to be saved. The fact of the matter is that in recent years, girls and young women have moved ahead in every field, category and discipline. Even in the sports arena that lead young men enjoyed for so long is rapidly changing.
Today, a much larger percentage of women in our communities are thriving, happy, well-adjusted and are making huge and deserved strides. Increasingly, boys and young men have slipped (and are slipping) through the cracks. The societal costs of this time bomb will be and is monumental. This trend should not only be of concern to law enforcement and policymakers, but also to parents with young daughters. How often have you heard a young beautiful, focused and alluring ‘sistah’ say, “There are no (eligible) men, or in the dating game there are ‘slim pickings and things are rough.”
According to some experts who are studying this vexing issue, one poignant and very important reason why girls are outperforming boys is male alienation in school systems. This contributes to social problems and adverse consequences. They point out that if more young males were better educated then the negative trends and habits such as violence, irresponsible sexual behavior and other anti and unproductive habits and lifestyles, would be much less.
Regardless of which side of the issue you fall on, it is fair to say that an alarmingly increasing number of our men (fathers) have neglected some of their basic responsibilities. But the sisterhood and motherhood should not give up on the ‘brothers’, at least, not just yet. Their failures, shortcomings and weaknesses are also their failures. The task of getting our men and boys ‘in line’ belongs to all of us. ‘Lock em’ up and throw away the keys and ‘take them out’ should not be one size that fits all approach.
Despite it all, I find it exciting to reflect on the varied, interesting, exciting and controversial currents that swirl around the lives of girls, young women, married moms as they balance professional and family responsibilities and look to challenges and tasks. That includes transporting their kids to piano lessons and Football games, serving on PTA and church committees among other community-related commitments.
It is unwise for anyone to conclude that increased successes of our women and girls could mean the disempowerment and marginalization of their male counterparts. On the contrary, our men and boys should embrace, appreciate and encourage women and girls more and should strive to be more of an integral part of their personal lives. In order to do so, they will to step it up to work harder and be more disciplined.
It is no fun for the ‘sistahs’ to face these exciting, challenging and often discouraging times alone. Indeed, we need the sisterhood and motherhood to be patient and to be on the brother’s sides. But all things considered and at the end of the day, it has to be a shared responsibility of the highest magnitude and urgency. It is incumbent on us men of all stripes, persuasions, professions, affiliations and convictions to get it together.