Dead or In Jail: Roads That Threaten A Generation of Young Men

I spent this past Thanksgiving holiday along with my 25th birthday in New Orleans. I know of many cool spots to visit in the U.S., but I have to say there is no place like home; the heritage, the food {I’m sure I gained about 5 Ibs}, the music, the people, as we like to say “let the good times roll”. I try to visit once a year and each time I leave with a greater sense of self, but also with a burden; this time for the young men.

As I went around visiting family and friends, I noticed a common theme throughout many of my conversations. When I inquired about a particular person, more specifically guys I grew up with, I got responses like “oh he got 50 years or he got shot round there on....” It broke my heart just thinking about all the talent and potential wasting away in prisons and graveyards.

Many say society is to blame {people need more jobs, racial discriminations, etc}, the parents are to blame {not leading by example, not rearing, no father in the home}, the education system is to blame {the teachers don’t care}, the church is to blame {highly focused on money and numbers, no youth guidance or relevant outlets}, or no one should be blamed, but these young men themselves, who chose to make decisions that led them down a road that threatened their futures. I understand that nowadays there are options for young men coming from adversity, especially black men. They can become educators, doctors, lawyers, congressmen, athletes, executives, artists, musicians, actors, entrepreneurs, ministers, and let’s not forget, umm, President. However, there is still this large proportion of boys that are finding themselves on the unfortunate path to prison or death.

This is something that has hit close to home for me far too many times. Beneath the unique food, culture, and festivities, all of which stand for great tourist attractions, New Orleans, like other urban communities, has for years been a city plagued by violence. Plenty of times being labeled the murder capital of the U.S, with murder rates up to ten times higher than national average. I’ve experienced firsthand the impact of New Orleans’ violence epidemic, not only with my father being murdered in a drive by shooting in 1998, but also with my brother doing time in prison along with most of my uncles and cousins. 

My recent experience at home caught my attention and opened my eyes even more to what's going on in the lives of the young men of our generation. 

It was as if the popular line I heard growing up, “at the rate you’re going, you’re going to end up dead or in jail,” had come to life for most of the guys I knew.

 Of course, I know that the stories like my fathers', brother, cousins, uncles, and childhood friends' are not the stories of every black man or man in general. I have family, friends, and brothers in Christ that 

are working hard to succeed at life and I applaud them and am thankful for what they represent. 

I have examined this issue from so many angles and perspectives and I wish I could say I have come up with what I think could be a solution, but I can't. What I can do is reach out to and raise awareness for many of our young men whose lives are at risk. I can {with God leading the way} empower young men of all races and backgrounds to live up to their highest 

potential, to take the road less traveled, the road to purpose, to being the man God has called them to be. Join me!!!

We cultivate ourselves when we help to cultivate others!!!!

Feel free to comment below. I would love to hear what others have to say about this subject….