Free Our Sons
Free Our Sons
By: Dr. Alfreda Love-Writer/Entertainment/Social Issuesfirstname.lastname@example.org
Lauryn Hill once said, “If I ruled the world, I would free all my sons.” Each day, we hear of one or more of our son’s demise. It matters not the race, creed, age or status, the fate of our young men has become a national phenomenon and in question. The question is who deserves to die? From 1999-2014, 60 unarmed black men were killed by police officers. Fast-forward to 2015, and it has been reported that 255 black people have been killed by police officers this year. More black men are being killed than any other gender and race, but why?
In reviewing the infancy of our sons at a very young age, we often buy toys that identify the child’s masculinity. In the typical boy’s playroom, one will find monster trucks, games, action figures, guns (toy guns and BB guns), computer (exposed to adult content &kid content) and much more. When I asked a young boy what he wanted to become, he replied; “A Power Ranger.” The imagination of a small child tends to mature into reality when he becomes a young man. The toys children are exposed to can influence the child’s behavior as a young kid, teenager and young adult (Alfreda Love 2015). In my research of action figures, I discovered that most toys boys play with represent strength, aggression and the need to belong. Some homes with small male children have toy guns and by the time the child is 7, a BB gun is purchased. What message are we giving to these male children who play with aggressive action figures and BB guns? The message that consumers are telling their male son is, “It is okay to be tough, fight and use weapons.” Whether the weapons are used for sport, hunting or show, it still represents a need to feel powerful and control the environment by any means necessary.
We are in the year of 2015 and many children have been exposed to knives, guns and other weapons of mass destruction. At the age of childhood and beyond, parents find themselves explaining to police, school officials and the community how a kid younger than 10 is able to shoot a weapon and hit an intended target. In the news and newspaper, we have heard of children as young as 3 years old accidently shooting someone in their home because they have been exposed to weapons and understand how to make it shoot. There is something wrong with this picture of children understanding violence before the age of 10. The fact of the matter is many households are grooming their sons for trouble. The innocence of buying guns, purchasing games which embrace shooting or fighting and allowing children unsupervised playtime or leisure has cost the lives of some males.
Secondly, in my research, I find that many male children have computers and are able to navigate well throughout the world-wide internet. Computers have become baby-sitters for many young male children and have exposed these young males to adult content as well as mature activities. While visiting libraries all over the states, I see children of all ages flocking to the libraries on weekends unsupervised. Many parents send their children to the library in good faith that my son will only play educational and kid games. Technology is very useful for children and adults alike, but one must supervise the content of materials which children are exposed. Computer love is not new, yet children are finding computer love with strangers who take advantage. There is content of adult nature on the computer and children are exposed and place what they see and hear in the long-term memory. Due to a child’s exposure to the world-wide web, the son is now finding himself facing trouble and the parents do not understand why. The once quiet little Johnny is now more vocal and sharing with his friends what he saw on the internet several weekends ago. One of his friends then goes and tells his mother what Johnny has been saying and the parent is in shock and disbelief that Johnny has any idea of the adult content. I would be the first to believe that most parents do not expose their children to obscenity, but these things can be researched on the computer. Supervising your son while on the computer is a necessity because if not, parents will lose control of what their son stores in his long term and short term memory.
Third, another major factor in the demise of our sons is music. We all know that music is an international language, yet it is a language that many of our sons speak well. In every culture of music, there is good music and music that heavily influence the minds of our son. When I listen to some songs for an understanding of the minds of our sons, I find that many songs speak of death, drugs, being players (multiple women), haters, shooting and hustling. There is nothing wrong with knowing that one day we must die and that working hard (hustling) is good as long as it is an honest living. Our sons continuously listen to music with the listed themes and it becomes a life style. Once music becomes a life-style, our sons begin to imitate the artists and people who are influential in the music genre. There is a strong push for artist to filter the type of language and themes used when producing songs, yet the solution would be don’t allow your children to listen to music that is of adult content. Children will find ways to listen to the music of their choosing, but parents must share with their children that the music heard is to be enjoyed because of the beat, but the lyrics should not be lived. The message is, “It is okay to dance to the beat, but when the words become a way of life, there is a problem.”
Music has become a language spoken by many of our sons and the influence of people has now become a huge equation in their lives. The style of clothes is closely related to the influence of people our sons will follow in reality. Typically, males seek those who they can identify with in dress, tone, status and beliefs. When was the last time you saw a nerd hanging out with a jock? It is very rare that a studious student would be in the mist of the jocks, unless the nerd was trying to fit in. If we look into society, males typically hang out with individuals of their identity. Fads such as shirts tucked in, belts worn and pants pulled up is a thing of the past for some males. Due to the need to belong and have friends, our sons sometime select popular sons who find trouble, have many friends and often times have run-ins with the laws. Now that the son has found friends who have experienced negativity with the law, that son will soon create a negative thought about police as well. In many instances, due to the influence of people, many of the sons form gangs. The formation of gangs is a message that we are unified. Parents it is important that when your sons are children, you teach them the word unique. Unique simply means one of a kind. We are seeking to raise sons who can think for themselves logically, stand by themselves or as a group with power and most of all make intelligent decisions. When our sons reach middle school, there is a need to have friends and seek peer approval. The most important aspect of building uniqueness in our sons to continue to be positive role models and create an identity within your son at their youth. If parents continue to wait on society to identify and approve an identity for our sons, we will be saddened to know that your son will be influenced by someone, rather than himself.
Now, 10 years later, we see Johnny who is now in his teenage years. If you remember, Johnny played with action figures (teach aggression), computer (unsupervised), games (fighting and killing) and owns a BB gun (trouble).Johnny is leaving home without permission, fighting at school and owns not one BB gun, but several. Currently, Johnny listens to music that suggests violence and speaks negative about the police. What do you think Johnny will do when he sees the police or have an encounter with the police?
Like most stories I read with our young black men, the police pursue the man and a chase ensues. In some instances the man chased by police has done nothing wrong, while other instances suggest that the black man running is suspect of mischief. Before we analyze what happens to our young black men, I would like to suggest that I don’t believe in police brutality or civilian brutality. When analyzing the death of our black men, I see one phrase that all have in common and that is, “Flight or Fight!’ In a few instances, some of the men took off running and others resisted arrest. The final result of the two options cost the lives of the men. Looking back, we discover that our innocent young boys were so cute and could be found playing on the Xbox or with action figures. If we fast-forward to manhood, we find an innocent man riding a bicycle while being chased by police. Well, just as in the game or action figures, the bandit always ran or the action figure always fought. In reality, that child who is now a grown man is going to do what is most familiar and run. If he is caught, whether guilty or not, he is going to fight. A small boy who is very familiar with fake guns is found in a park pointing what appears to be a weapon at people as they pass. The report is made to police that a young boy is in the park pointing what appears to be a fake gun. The police arrive and sure enough, an innocent boy is found in the park unsupervised pointing a gun at people. Police give one command and maybe the boy heard and maybe he did not, but it cost him his life. Rewind a few months ago during Christmas where the boy was given a fake gun and now he can pretend to be a cop, villain, or anything he wants to be, but this is make-believe. When he gets out in the real-world, no one knows who this kid is, nor do they know the fake gun was a Christmas present. As he is approached by cops, he is still in his make-believe world, while they are in reality and he is shot and killed. We have a case where a young man goes to the store and there is someone with superficial authority who approaches him. The young man who has nothing but candy is challenged by this person and a fight ensues and the young man is shot dead. Well, if you recall, action figures fight each other and what is that song that speaks about death? Where is the game or action figure that walks away? Where is the game, song or action figure that illustrates if someone is not doing wrong to leave them alone?
As parents, adults and community leaders, we either set our sons up for success or trouble. It is imperative that we continue to have seminars like the one I have given on how to “Free our sons.” We are not freeing our sons if they have done wrong; we are freeing them of the trouble that lies ahead. It is imperative that we are mindful of the toys we allow young children to play with, music, computer activity and people in which they associate. In order to free our sons, we must be the key that holds their future, the voice that speaks to do right and the hand that stops destructive activity.
Associated Press. (2015, April 28). Obama: Deaths of black men by police are a ‘slow-rolling crisis.’ The New York Times. Retrieved from http://nypost.com/2015/04/28/obama-deaths-of-black-men-by-police-a-slow-rolling-crisis/
Free Our Sons!
Dr. Alfreda Love
An innovator of change, Dr. Alfreda Love is a leader, educator, motivational speaker, blogger, Radio Host and a self starter. Dr. Love created a talk show ministry that features your favorite celebrities, authors, writers, actors, actress and positive community leaders.
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