December 21, 2017
Written by United Way Guest Blogger Shannon Reed Jr.
No need to feel neither lost nor abandoned, you, the young African American male holds infinite potential and abundance. Enough to change the direction of the world! Too often, there is an illusion viewed, systematically in place, which is set to blind us from our true purpose. This, in turn, diverts us from our objective of stability and progression. Overcoming trials and tribulations consistently and consecutively we are eagerly pushing towards this objective in efforts of finding a tranquil balance. Following through every day, constantly reiterating the mantra “I am going to make it!” we soon begin to wonder what exactly that means. What is making it and under what standard is it appropriate to measure this success?
Throughout the development of finances, education, health, and love you start to not only lay the foreground of steps towards tranquility, but also set a guideline to becoming a righteous black man.
Finances. For men, it should be instinctual and a necessity to fend for your family. Jay-Z stated in his last album 4:44, “A man that don’t take care of his family can’t be rich.” Maintaining your finances realistically is the only way to properly provide for your loved ones. An added incentive once priorities are met is the luxury of hanging out with the boys and keeping the gang tight. Sustaining your finances is the key towards maximizing leisure money and time. Thus, in return this allows you to have the luxury of traveling and expanding the mind. An article in Time Magazine stated, “Over the last three years, the increase [in intent to travel] among African Americans has been pretty significant, going from an increase of about 3 [percentage] points, to 6 points, to 19 points this year.” This shows the rapid growth of African Americans traveling overseas, taking the chance to widen their perspectives. We must always remember the gateway to expanding our pockets is within the expansion of the mind.
Education. Continuously expanding the mind and educating yourself is vital. Attaining abundant knowledge keeps one moving in the direction of success and on a constant path of forward development. Not only can you say when you know better you do better, but education also propels you in the state of mind of being prepared. No need to get ready when you stay ready. We must learn to become proactive when it comes to our self-development and self-care. This mindset alludes not only to education but to health as well.
Health. Within the African American culture, we must raise awareness in regards to health consciousness. The death rate for African Americans is higher than whites for heart diseases, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and homicide, as read in the Minority Health Report, 40% of black men die prematurely from cardiovascular disease as compared to 21% of white men. This amplifies the result of 44% of African American males being deemed as overweight. We want to heighten awareness of what we are putting in our bodies, and push one another to take advantage of the opportunity to seeking healthier and plant-based options. In return for revitalizing your body with the proper nutrients, fuel, and energy, you will start to obtain the strength necessary to continue persevering through any obstacle and loving yourself unconditionally.
Last but certainly not least, Love. We, the exquisite, admirable, misunderstood, irrepressible black man, must learn to truly love the skin we’re in. This is a fundamental component to appropriately nurturing loved ones and conditioning our personal relationships. This then stems to the dynamics in which we engage with our women; elevating them to be the greatest versions of themselves and putting them on the proper pedestal will correctly exemplify the image of yourself that they portray. When this quality is truly mastered we can start to focus on love through a platonic perspective. With a foundation of love, we can strategically continue exploring how we can impact and inspire our community and succeed within our objective.
Together, we will pursue building financial literacy within our communities, encouraging everyone to fearlessly stay hungry for knowledge and not the terrible foods weighing us down. Truly appreciating the nature of love we will grow and breed more generations of righteous black men.
Read Shannon Jr's reflection on being a young man of color in the central city and learn more about United Way's work on innovative strategies for Boys & Men of Color.