In an urban diverse community, such as the church I am in, these issues shouldn't go unpacked. Not saying they haven't been mentioned or worked on, but in the blogosphere not much has been talked through, worked on and exposed.
Some of the feedback I was given was to be more specific in my search for urban fears, but I feel keeping it ambiguous gives a sense of freedom for folks to air there fears. We all come from different backgrounds and perspectives, so we will have different fears. This week, I will share my neighbors answer to this question.
This past week, my elderly neighbor Ulysses came over to tell me his wife had passed. He shared with me his love for his bride as if he had just gotten hitched days earlier. He shared his love for Jesus and how He was His hope.
Shortly after he came over, we got to talking about our neighborhood. I asked him about the old crack house that was directly next to his house. This house was used for wheeling and dealing until it was shut down, renovated and is now back on the market.
I asked Ulysses: "How did it get that way? What caused the owners to go down that path?" Ulysses shared with me some deep, personal and eye opening things. His answer was from his perspective, as an older Black man, living in Pittsburgh for years.
He said: "The jobs got scarce. Money was tight and so the man sought to find a way to take care of his family." He said this matter of factly, as if it didn't bother him as much as I thought it might. I asked him: "What would drive him that far that he would deal drugs?" He said something I won't forget. He said: "To a black man growing up in my neighborhood, taking care of yourself and your family was making sure you all had food, shelter and clothes. If a man didn't take care of his family, he failed. This man, as so many like him are afraid of failing as men so they will do anything sometimes in order to not fail."
This answer blew me away. Now remember, this is one older gentleman's perspective; I'm not saying he's right or he's wrong. This blew me away because in his scenario, it was the man's honor and FEAR of failure that drove him to illegal distribution of drugs.
I have seen, sensed and experienced this drive for "manhood". Too many of the urban teens (black, white, latino, you name it) I come across, being a man and succeeding in that means: "money, girls and respect" and these young men will do ANYTHING in order to achieve what they consider to be a "successful man". The fear of failure at being a "man" strikes such a strong chord with many of them overlook the illegal to achieve the temporal success of being a man.
Growing up in the inner-city, I myself felt supreme pressure to conform to the idea of manhood my neighborhood defined for me. Sex, money, sports were all touted as supreme goals to achieve in order to be considered manly. God, through my father, church and home environment shielded me from conforming to and being subjected to higher levels of exposure, but the pressures were still there.
Our urban young men are striving to be good men and are desperately afraid of failing.
Agree? Disagree? Additions? LET'S DISCUSS!