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Monroe Native

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A better Detroit starts with better fathers
« on: April 19, 2014, 02:50:16 PM »

Well said!

Quote
A young man sits in my office at YouthVille Detroit, in tears, finally releasing the inner pain and hurt he has felt for years.

He has grappled with the “why” question all of his life. He wondered why his father never wanted to have anything to do with him. Scared to ask his mother, fearing she might get mad and tell him he is being “soft,” he decided, year after year, from childhood through adolescence, to keep his deeply rooted burning question buried inside.

“I don’t know what he looks like, talks like, acts like, or nothing. I just don’t know anything. I ain’t even seen a picture of him,” my mentee Darrius Tolbert said as he sat in my office.

He wiped his face, as he fought back tears, staring down at the floor. So, I began to share with him my story of being fatherless. I saw a piece of myself in him. I connected with his pain. We spent almost three hours sharing our life experiences. When we concluded our meeting, the young man said that he felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. We made a pact that we would continue to talk to each other, and that pact has been honored ever since that cold winter day two years ago.

My mentee’s story is symbolic of a large percentage of young men in the city. I always tell people that the problem is deeper than the headlines about low graduation rates and crimes committed by young black men. I have come to the understanding that you can put far too many of our African-American boys into one of three categories: Their father has abandoned them, is incarcerated, or he is deceased. We learn early on in school that there is a cause and effect for every action. If you want to look at a major cause of crime and violence in the Detroit community, start with the erosion of the key mentoring role: fatherhood.

Now, it is important to note that there are many great black fathers, strong black men who are actively involved and engaged in their sons’ lives. But, there is still, sadly, too large of a segment of the population where the father is nonexistent. I don’t think our cities will truly reduce crime rates until we have effectively addressed the problems that lead to the crime — misplaced anger and the hurt of abandonment in young men who have no role model for responsible manhood.

The African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but what happens when the village is deathly ill? Detroit is no different than many other urban cities. We are living in “crisis mode” in this city, just like residents in other cities across America. Too many of our young men don’t dream or have visions of a brighter future. Many young men have subscribed to a sense of hopelessness. There are too many dysfunctional homes. Our youth lack sufficient education, resources and values. They are growing up in communities plagued by drugs and alcohol. These are just some of the contributing factors in the sick village. However, when it is all said and done, I still believe the most important factor is still far too many fatherless homes.

I work with youth and have been an advocate for change in the community for many years now. I speak as a passionate, committed black man, who grew up in poverty, who works daily to change the hearts and minds of young men. I have a mentoring group, Mentoring Through Media, which has helped more than 60 young men turn their lives around and aspire to success. Darrius is a graduate of my mentoring program and is now in college, as are many of the guys from this group.

That’s not to say that young women in Detroit aren’t faced with some of the same issues that many young men are dealing with — and need just as much community involvement. But because I see myself in so many of the young men I meet, my focus has been on improving outcomes for them.

The task is huge and often demanding. I spend a great deal of time trying to enlighten my mentees through exposure to another life, one outside of their daily environment. You can’t be what you can’t see. We are the window to a world beyond corrupt politics, those small-time pastors and clergymen who look like new-age pimps,dope boys who promise to put money in young boys’ pockets if they would take up a spot in a drug house, and homes where the father is nowhere to be found. Our boys need us in a bad way. They need strong men who will stand up in front of them and say with a fearless voice, “I love you. I want nothing from you and everything for you. I am committed to seeing you succeed.”

When men stand up, boys sit down. It is imperative that men stand up, and share encouragement and positivity with our young men. To truly effect change in young men, they must put down the weed and Hennessy and pick up a book and study new ways to reach our boys. It is crisis mode. Our boys are dying.

Marquis L. Herring, a 32-year-old Detroit native, runs a mentoring program for young men in the city.


http://www.freep.com/article/20140419/OPINION05/304190016/detroit-crime-black-youths-african-americans-future-fathers-parents-kids
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blue2

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Re: A better Detroit starts with better fathers
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2014, 03:09:28 PM »

Perhaps if Sharpton and Jackson would have been addressing this problem for the last 30 years instead of shaking the establishment for money we might not have this situation.
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Professor H

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Re: A better Detroit starts with better fathers
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2015, 11:48:46 AM »

Not just for Fathers.... 

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SidecarFlip

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Re: A better Detroit starts with better fathers
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2015, 12:01:21 PM »

There is a bright spot in Detroit....

Check out www.shinola.com

Nice high end merchandise made in the Motor City.
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