Sometimes it seems like African Americans are in a silent war – the war against the media. The problem is that most of us don’t even know that the war is raging on; and we are losing. Many of the breakthroughs on television of positive African American male characters have been reversed, and what once seemed like a leveling of the media playing field has turned into a 500-foot waterslide leading us right down the tubes.
It happened so fast that we may not have even realized it, but gone from TV are the hardworking, middle class black men taking care of their families.
Remember just a few years ago when you had these guys on TV to look up to:
Michael Kyle of My Wife and Kids
Urkel’s neighbor Carl Winslow, the hardworking policeman on "Family Matters"
Julius Rock slaving away at 2 jobs to take care of his family on "The Chris Rock Show"
Phillip Banks the lawyer, then judge on the "Fresh Prince of Bel Air"
"The Cosby Show" and all of those positive male characters seems like a far way dream.
Today there are ZERO black male role models on television. You cannot find one black father taking care of a family. In fact there aren't any black family shows on television period. We may not have had many in the past, but at least we had them ("Good Times", "The Bernie Mac Show", etc.). These black men had jobs and held it together through all the ups and downs. Even Fred Sanford took care of his “Big Dummy” Lamont, and J.C. Watts was a devoted single father in "New York Undercover".
Young boys have nobody to look up to on television as models of what a strong, professional, family man should be.
We all know that television does not raise our kids, but we also know the subliminal brainwashing that TV does to all who watch it. Network TV through its programming is saying loudly that there really are no black professional family men out there.
With this background we come to the main point of this article – young black boys need black male role models to show them that they can be good fathers, businessmen, entrepreneurs and everything in between. If we wait for the media to portray these images on TV we will be waiting for a long time.
If we want young black men to see positive male role models, they will need to see US.
There are thousands of black doctors, lawyers, psychologists, business owners, pharmacists and young people need to know that they exist. So how do you make yourself “visible”?
- Talk about your job at school on parent-child day.
- Open up a shop in an African American neighborhood.
- Volunteer to participate in a neighborhood car wash.
Anything that we can do to be more visible to young black men, the better.
Just imagine if all these brothers walked into you child's middle school? Now that's inspiration!
When young people see adult black men doing something positive, they often are inspired. Most of the time a word doesn’t have to be spoken. Just seeing a young brother in a nice suit and a briefcase is an EXTREMELY positive image and believe it or not too many youngsters have never seen this in real life.
As Charles Barkley famously said “I am not a role model”. He is an athlete playing a game for our entertainment. Kanye West is a rapper and producer; making music to entertain us. He is not a role model. Today's young rappers who get all the video channel time and radio air play are the ANTI-role model. In any event, entertainers are not role models and being an entertainer has little or nothing to do with being a good man anyway.
The everyday man taking care of himself and/or his family is the best role model and that is what our kids need to see. You can play your part so easily – by just being visible.
For those reading this: we are the Revolution - you and me. There is no one else.
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