A New Way of Thinking
When certain elements in our society see boys, generally and Black and Hispanic ones particularly, they see problems, challenges and undesirable societal issues. They think unconstructive thoughts and have negative feelings. This is because boys have been stereotyped and labelled. They are seen as disruptive, antsy and unable to concentrate on anything. They have been associated with gangs, crime, guns, deviant behaviors, scamming and illicit drugs. One must wonder whether some of this is self-fulfilling prophecy.
If this is all there is to and for boys, then the future is ominous and foreboding. And, I believe the question of responsibility is germane. For sure, I do not think boys are the only ones to blame nor are their parents. Society must accept some culpability. But why? We allow their treatment and unjustified deaths to go unchallenged, unopposed and without accountability. Besides, we allow the stereotypes and their underlying assumptions to go unchallenged and so become acceptable. And, the more normative they become, the more entrenched in our psyches and expectations they get. Is there anything that can be done to reverse this apparently circular chain of events?
I believe we are obligated. I posit that what is required is a new way of thinking about young men and a new approach to their care and development. More than a century ago, a little woman wrote some powerful words that are still applicable, “In the common walks of life there is many a toiler patiently treading the rounds of his daily tasks, unconscious of latent powers that, roused to action, would place them among the world’s great leaders.” Interestingly, she did not stop there. She noted that what is needed is the touch of a skillful hand to arouse and develop those dormant faculties. What if those skillful hands are yours and mine? What if they are the hands of journalists, law enforcement officers, teachers, mentors, pastors and other significant elements of society? Indeed, I think they are. What if we adopt a new positive way of looking at boys and young men?
What if we could see possibilities instead of problems? What if we could see their potential as constructive contributors to society instead of destructive consumers? What if we could see them not as they are but as they could become? What if instead of seeing them as potential criminals we saw them as budding leaders in society? What if instead of seeing them as potential inmates for the prison industry we have created, we could see them as prospective learners is schools who will contribute positively to society tomorrow? What if we, changed our thinking about them, could that transform their attitude to life and to society? This is what CEOS is about. Why not join us? Don’t be bothered about what others are doing. Be concerned about what you are doing. I urge you to adapt a new motto, “let there be a change in thinking and let it begin with me.” Will you?