LOUIS ‘HOP’ KENDRICK
I understand very clearly that there are conditions such as no parents, dysfunctional parents, no father, no positive male image, parents being involved in alcohol, illegal drugs, poverty all around you, despair, hopelessness, lack of love or caring, racism and disrespect. There are even those in 2013 who put an added emphasis on the greatest tragedy in the world, slavery.
At one of the political debates one of the candidates injected that in his estimation exclusion has driven our sons and daughters to selling drugs, using drugs, robbing, burglary, not going to school, dropping out of school, and other negative actions. Under no circumstance would I ignore any of the above reasons, but I will not accept them as fact, but I will accept them as partial causes. There is no way I could accept these negatives as absolute, because when we look at ourselves and ask the question did we not come out of definitely not identical situations, but similar?
In my personal life my family lived on a street where there were only two families with indoor plumbing, the Stewart family and the Williams family. We had electricity, but no gas, an outhouse, we bathed in a #5 galvanized tub, and had party line telephones later on, but we never heard any person in the neighborhood use the expression how poor we were. In my lifetime I can list at least a dozen Black women whose husband was not in the house and they raised successful families; one raised five daughters and they all graduated from college.
As you read this column reflect on those you remember in the neighborhood whose children may not have graduated from high school or college, but were successful citizens. Our children have not changed, too many of us as parents have changed. We want to be our children’s friends instead of their mothers and fathers. We buy them things instead of spending quality time with them. It has become considered old fashioned to make our sons in particular realize the responsibility that goes with fathering a child. They need to be encouraged to take a $7.00 per hour job, it beats robbing a blank and is more than the .75 cents a day in the penitentiary.
Some Black men who believe they have arrived disagree with me when I state that it is up to us as Black men to turn this situation around. Too many have lost focus and fail to except the fact that these young men and women are our children. There are definitely too many Blacks caught up in the system, but the over whelming majority of Blacks have no criminal record. Yes there are untold millions of us that came from no parent or one parent homes, and who were subjected to a lot of the same conditions that others blame for their situations. Yet they survived through hard work and the refusal to give up.
I was present at the NAACP dinner and it was an overwhelming success and there were untold numbers of people that I personal could identify with who were determined to do something with their lives and not get caught in self pity or excuses to fail. At the table next to me was a Pittsburgh police officer, whom I have known all of her life, Brenda Tate. She is a living example of a person who encountered the devil and defeated him. Brenda’s latest assignment is to clean up the corner of Erin and Centre Avenue because an element of men had taken absolute control. If you walk or ride by there today you will be able to witness what a tremendous job she has done. I was compelled to pull over and park and to thank her for job well done.
Another positive event I was afforded an opportunity to attend was a graduation at Point Park College. A lifetime friend of mine, Herman Reid in conjunction with his family, extended me an invitation to a ceremony where he was awarded an honorary Ph.D from Point Park College. It was a moment that I will always treasure, because I was able to meet four of his very successful seven sons and daughters. Dr. Herman Reid amazingly has five PhD’s. Reid received a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. He has also received honorary Ph.D’s from Westminster College, Duquesne University and California State. Yes he is a living and functioning example of Black men who would not accept “can’t” in their vocabulary or life.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum page.)