Part 5 of Black Women in America Raising Boys : “It Takes A Village"

By Attorney Sadiyah Evangelista

Today I left court shaking my head disgusted and pondering hopelessly at the state of our black youth in the criminal justice system. I was technically representing a 17 year old black male for attempted robbery, a crime that carries two to ten years in the prison system. I say technically because really I represented both the mother and the son. This is what I see most days, mothers and their sons, with no father in sight or the father who is disinterested in the welfare of their progenies. This young boy’s father is currently serving 29 years in prison of which he has already served ten. This story is all too familiar.

The Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs released a report, "Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report" which analyzed the problems that black youth in the criminal justice system face. In 2002, blacks were 16 percent of the juvenile population but 29 percent of the delinquency caseload and the numbers are steady climbing.

So what are these single mothers to do so that their child will not become one of the so called proverbial “statistics” that their absentee fathers are a part of? Good question. Problem is, there is no one right and exact answer. We are all trying to figure out the right combination of approaches, solutions and remedies. The affects of slavery still carries a damning legacy that can be seen in the black family structure. However, one African proverb still holds true, “it takes a village to raise a child.”

This means that the responsibility lies not only with the parents where most often times the mother is both mother and father, but also with the extended family and community. We cannot leave mothers on an island to herself to raise “our” children, hence “our” nation.

Helping our mothers establish healthy and whole relationships with herself, extended family, people in the community through mentorships, at home, church, mosque, work and our child’s school is critical. Strong quality relationships are an extremely invaluable tool not only for both child and mother but society as a whole. When mother cannot do it all by herself, we must not turn a blind eye until Johnny goes to jail. By then it’s too late.

To show individual and personal interest in a child shows that child him or her matters. When this happens, the child feels a sense of self-worth. The child knows that they are loved. The child wants to strive to make you think highly of them. As a result, positive benefits flow from that interest, time and love. This also holds true for the mother.

So let’s help our mothers raise our babies, “one knee does not bring up a child.”

(Visit the official website of Attorney Evangelista log on to http://criminalwarriorlawyer.com/. For more information about the November 5 "Raising Boys" documentary premiere in Houston log on to: raisingboysdocumentary.eventbrite.com/)

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