You don’t think I work with you to feel good about myself, do you?
I am not here because I am a nice guy
That isn’t why I get up in the mornings to join the others and build with you and your brothers.
When parents and boys assume we work with “Bad Kids,” I protest.
I tell them what we do isn’t unique.
Cultures around the world and across time have had systems of initiation to prepare youth for adulthood. Such traditions serve the purpose of preserving a community by instilling their values into the next generation.
They always knew this work was necessary
Our work is only a continuation of that tradition.
You were missing for weeks and now you return to tell us you caught a case? Charges were filed because of choices you made? What is your life to you alone?
The younger boys look up to you
The older ones worry about you
You aren’t alone
The best in you adds to the rest of us
If you are gone, how are we to move forward?
Who will replace the elders among us? Who will replace me?
Again, I don’t work with you to feel good about myself!
How could I feel good when I see Black boys behind on the major academic measures in our city? Being relatively “bad” or “good” as individuals doesn’t matter much if the masses are locked out of promising futures.
Your fate is not yours alone.
What will become of them?
How could I feel satisfied when I work with other organizations that are sustained almost exclusively by women?
This isn’t balanced
I ask myself, where are the men?
I certainly see an abundance when I visit the prisons in Huntsville
Locked outside of possibilities for themselves
I see others around town, alienated from the institutions of our community
This is a great imbalance
These conditions are unsustainable
In the end, maybe it won’t matter.
You tell me you know you are making “bad” choices but continue making them.
I want you to want more for you
Ultimately, my feelings don’t matter. Maybe my efforts won’t either.
Perhaps the older generation will pass into eternity without their replacements.
But doing nothing isn’t an option for me and it shouldn’t be for you.
The imbalance grows
Our fates are tied together
They need you
I need you
You are too important to fail.