Breaking the Cycle of African American Adolescent & Young Adult Male Violence through Proper Racial Socialization
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Having logged countless hours of research and program development and implementation to address the enigmatic issues plaguing the Black community, I am keenly cognizant of the struggles that come with growing up in the inner city.The violence, poverty, and lack of resources can make it difficult to navigate through life. Unfortunately, many young African American males turn to violence as a means of survival. This cycle of violence can only be broken through proper racial socialization. Proper racial socialization is key to reducing violence in the inner city and creating an environment for Black males to thrive. In this article, I will discuss the need for proper racial socialization in black males, the top five influencers of black male violence in the inner city, the importance of black fathers in racial socialization, and the works of Dr. Howard C. Stevenson and Dr. Joy DeGruy.
The issue of African American adolescent & young adult male violence is a complex one. There are many factors that contribute to this issue, including poverty, lack of resources, and systemic racism. However, one of the most important factors is the lack of proper racial socialization in black males. Without proper racial socialization, young black males may not have a clear understanding of what it means to be a black man in America. This can lead to a distorted sense of self and a lack of respect for themselves and others. It is hard to convince a young male that the life he is taking is valuable when he doesn’t value his own life.
The Need for Proper Racial Socialization in Black Males
Racial socialization refers to the process through which individuals learn and internalize beliefs, values, attitudes, and behaviors related to race and ethnicity within a particular social context. It encompasses the transmission of cultural, historical, and societal knowledge about race and racial identity from one generation to another. Racial socialization occurs within families, communities, educational institutions, media, and other socializing agents.
The purpose of racial socialization is to help individuals develop a sense of racial and ethnic identity, understand the experiences and challenges associated with their racial group, and navigate and respond to racial bias, discrimination, and inequality. It involves teaching children and individuals about their racial background, cultural heritage, and the historical experiences and contributions of their racial group.
Racial socialization can involve various strategies and messages. For example, parents may engage in proactive racial socialization by actively teaching their children about their racial heritage, promoting positive racial identity, and instilling pride in their racial group. They may also provide guidance on how to navigate and cope with experiences of racism and discrimination.
On the other hand, reactive racial socialization may occur in response to specific racial incidents or experiences. It involves addressing instances of racism, discrimination, and stereotypes and helping individuals process and make sense of these experiences.
Racial socialization plays a crucial role in shaping individuals’ racial and ethnic identity development, their understanding of race relations, and their ability to navigate and respond to racial challenges in society. It can influence individuals’ attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to race, as well as their psychological well-being and resilience in the face of racial adversity.
Proper racial socialization is essential for young black males. It involves teaching them about their history, culture, and the challenges they may face in a society that is not always welcoming to people of color. Without this knowledge, young black males may feel lost and disconnected from their community. They may also be more susceptible to negative influences, such as gang violence and drug use.
Defining Black Manhood
Defining black manhood is an important step in proper racial socialization. Black manhood is not just about being tough or aggressive. It is about being responsible, respectful, and caring. It is about understanding the challenges that come with being a black man in America and being able to navigate those challenges with grace and dignity.
Effectively and lucidly defining Black manhood is important for several reasons:
- Countering stereotypes: Stereotypes about Black men have been perpetuated throughout history, often portraying them as threats, criminals, or hypermasculine figures. By providing a clear and accurate definition of Black manhood, it challenges these stereotypes and offers a more nuanced understanding of the diversity, complexities, and strengths of Black men.
- Empowering Black men: Defining Black manhood in a positive and empowering way can help Black men develop a strong sense of identity, self-worth, and pride. It encourages them to reject harmful stereotypes and societal pressures and instead embrace their authentic selves and embrace positive aspects of masculinity.
- Promoting healthy relationships: An effective definition of Black manhood can promote healthy relationships between Black men and others, including women, children, and other communities. It emphasizes respect, equality, empathy, and emotional well-being, contributing to stronger connections and fostering a more inclusive society.
- Nurturing positive role models: By providing a clear definition of Black manhood, it helps identify and celebrate positive role models within the Black community. These role models can serve as inspirations and mentors, showcasing the diversity of achievements, contributions, and values that Black men embody.
- Addressing social disparities: Effectively defining Black manhood also helps to address the social disparities and systemic barriers that Black men face. It brings attention to the unique experiences, challenges, and needs of Black men and encourages society to actively work towards dismantling racial inequalities in areas such as education, employment, criminal justice, and healthcare.
- Enhancing understanding and empathy: A lucid definition of Black manhood fosters greater understanding and empathy among individuals from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. It promotes dialogue, dispels misconceptions, and encourages open-mindedness, leading to more inclusive communities and improved race relations.
Overall, effectively and lucidly defining Black manhood is crucial for challenging stereotypes, empowering individuals, promoting positive relationships, fostering role models, addressing disparities, and enhancing understanding. It contributes to a more equitable and inclusive society that recognizes the value and dignity of all individuals, regardless of their racial or ethnic background.
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Defending Black Masculinity
Defending black masculinity is also an important part of proper racial socialization. Black men are often portrayed as violent, aggressive, and hypersexual in the media. This can lead to a distorted perception of black masculinity and contribute to the cycle of violence in the inner city. It is important to defend black masculinity and promote positive images of black men in the media. I don’t believe in toxic masculinity. I believe there is toxic behavior that is erroneously categorized as being a masculine trait. True masculinity never causes harm. For a man, masculinity is the representation of his ability to walk in his design and purpose to protect, cover, and provide.
The Top Five Influencers of Black Male Violence in the Inner City
There are many factors that contribute to black male violence in the inner city. However, there are five primary influencers that stand out:
- The Feeling of Being Disrespected
- Lack of Proper Racial Socialization
- Being the victim of violence
- Witnessing Violence
- Urban Hassle
Of all of these, racial socialization has the most potential to positively impact the phenomenon of Black male violence within the inner city.
Creating a Rite of Passage that Clearly Defines Black Manhood
Creating a rite of passage that clearly defines black manhood is an important step in proper racial socialization. A rite of passage can help young black males understand their place in society and give them a sense of purpose and belonging. It can also help them develop positive relationships with other black men and promote a sense of community.
Having a rite of passage holds particular importance for Black males for several reasons:
- Cultural identity and pride: Rites of passage provide an opportunity for Black males to connect with and embrace their cultural heritage, traditions, and history. They can strengthen their sense of belonging and pride in their racial and ethnic identity, fostering a positive self-image and a strong foundation for personal growth.
- Identity development: Rites of passage help Black males navigate the transition from childhood to adulthood and support their identity development. They provide a structured and intentional process for self-reflection, self-discovery, and the exploration of values, beliefs, and responsibilities. Through these experiences, young Black males can gain a clearer understanding of their roles, purpose, and place within their communities and society.
- Mentorship and guidance: Rites of passage often involve the guidance and mentorship of older generations, community leaders, or wise elders. These mentors serve as role models, imparting wisdom, knowledge, and life skills to the younger generation. They offer guidance on topics such as character development, leadership, cultural traditions, and navigating challenges specific to Black males.
- Community support and connections: Rites of passage typically involve community participation and support. They bring together family members, friends, and community members who collectively celebrate and affirm the transition of young Black males into adulthood. This communal support fosters a sense of belonging, reinforces positive values, and provides a network of individuals who can offer ongoing support and mentorship.
- Resilience and empowerment: Rites of passage often incorporate challenging tasks, rituals, or ceremonies that test the physical, emotional, and mental strength of participants. By successfully navigating these challenges, Black males develop resilience, self-confidence, and a sense of accomplishment. This empowerment equips them with the tools and mindset to face future obstacles and adversities with resilience and determination.
- Breaking stereotypes and countering negative narratives: Rites of passage challenge negative stereotypes and narratives that society often imposes on Black males. By showcasing their strength, intelligence, character, and achievements, these rituals demonstrate the multifaceted nature and potential of Black males. They provide a counter-narrative to prevailing stereotypes and promote a positive and authentic representation of Black masculinity.
Overall, having a rite of passage for Black males is important for nurturing cultural pride, facilitating identity development, providing mentorship and guidance, fostering community connections, promoting resilience and empowerment, and countering negative narratives. It contributes to the holistic development and well-being of young Black males as they navigate their journey from adolescence to adulthood.
Laying the Foundation for Strong Black Men
Laying the foundation for strong black men is another important step in proper racial socialization. This involves providing young black males with the tools and resources they need to succeed in life. This includes education, job opportunities, and mentorship. It also involves teaching them about their history and culture and helping them develop a strong sense of self.
The Importance of Black Fathers in Racial Socialization
Black fathers play a crucial role in racial socialization. They serve as role models and provide guidance and support to their children. They also help their children develop a sense of pride in their culture and history. Unfortunately, many Black fathers are absent from their children’s lives due to incarceration, poverty, and other factors. It is important to support black fathers and provide them with the resources they need to be positive role models for their children.
Defining Racial Socialization and Its Impact on Black Male Violence
Racial socialization is the process of teaching children about their racial identity and how to navigate through a society that may not always be welcoming to people of color. It is essential for black males, as it can help them develop a strong sense of self and avoid negative influences. The lack of proper racial socialization can contribute to the cycle of violence in the inner city.
The Works of Dr. Howard C. Stevenson and Dr. Joy DeGruy
Dr. Howard C. Stevenson and Dr. Joy DeGruy are two prominent scholars who have done extensive research on the impact of racial socialization on black males. Their work has shed light on the importance of proper racial socialization and the need to support black males in their journey to become strong, responsible, and caring men. It was through the initial work of these two brilliant minds that I launched my research and program development that culminated in the creation of the Black Men Lead Rite of Passage initiative.
When we properly racially socialize young Black males, we introduce them to the possibilities for their future that are often hidden from them underneath to incessant barrage of negative ideas about themselves. Socialization reduces the proclivity toward violence; it reduces the dropout rate—subsequently reducing the incarceration rate. Black males who are properly racially socialized are more likely to create and sustain Black families and own businesses.
Breaking the cycle of African American adolescent & young adult male violence is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach. Proper racial socialization is an essential part of this approach. It involves teaching young black males about their history, culture, and the challenges they may face in a society that is not always welcoming to people of color. It also involves promoting positive images of black masculinity and providing young black males with the tools and resources they need to succeed in life. By supporting black males in their journey to become strong, responsible, and caring men, we can break the cycle of violence in the inner city.
CTA: As a society, we must do more to support young black males in their journey to become strong, responsible, and caring men. This includes providing them with the tools and resources they need to succeed in life, promoting positive images of black masculinity, and supporting black fathers. Let us work together to break the cycle of African American adolescent & young adult male violence through proper racial socialization.