21 Suggestions for Young Men of Color

If you have not heard Dr. Chuck speak, you should. He is one of our favorite intellectuals whose passion for Education and Youth Advocacy is phenomenal. Please read his post “Open Letter To Our Boys of Color,” follow him on twitter @drchuckwilliams and visit his website

To Men of Color:

Some of you are shining examples of the possibilities and we do need to highlight you more; however, there are far too many of you who don’t get It.  This is for you.

It’s so sad to see so many of you covered in tattoos, from head to toe, knowing that 98% of you will never play ball professionally or sign a record deal, but you could become a doctor, lawyer or teacher— but I guess you’re not interested in such noble professions. I blame that point of fact on your absentee dads, who spend more time in the barbershop than they do with you. Interestingly, I know a little about that – the only difference was my pop managed the shop, but this aint about me. It’s about you and your embarrassingly trifling choices – which, by the way, continue to put you and us all in harm’s way. On Twitter, Facebook & Instagram all you do is brag about how much weed you smoke, the next party, your cabal of ghetto bunnies – with more tatts than Lil Wayne. Your grammar is often atrocious—like you never even set foot in a school, let alone the number of you who CHOOSE to give up and drop out. It’s as though you are completely unaware that the train called LIFE is leaving the station and you ‘bout to get LEFT! Do you not realize that you appear clownish? How terribly sad is it that you’ve thrown away your future before your life has even begun. What type of future are you preparing for with tear drops tatted across your eyelids and “only God can judge me” tatted across your forearm”? Are you seeking judgement? Obviously, you’re unaware of the giants like Malcolm and Martin, who literally gave their lives so that yours could be a little better, but instead of picking up a book every once in a while to learn about who you are, your hands are too busy throwing away your future. While I’ve committed my life to helping you, I need you to try just a little harder not to conform to societal stereotypes as you appear all too willing to become a caricature of self. Are you prepared to be a decent man, husband or father? I ask such questions in love. And lest you misunderstand my intentions this is what we ol heads call alil “tough love”. For it’s very hard to help those who won’t help themselves — even with your dimples, swag and waves spinning — if that in fact describes who you are. [A few years ago we elected] the first self-identified black man to the White House for the second time in history. You don’t even have to vote or “like” politics to understand the significance of this event in order to get my point. But since I’m here to help, let me offer a few suggestions;

  1. Don’t have sex outside of a committed relationship.
  2. Talk to your kids ever day (I’d rather at 16 you didn’t have them, but since you’ve been taught by the men in your community that that’s a sign of manhood…); and see them at least once a week; walk them to school in the morning and do homework with them after school.
  3. If you’re struggling with what it means to be a father or man seek help from organizations like the Fathers Day Rally Committee, Men United, Daddy University and the National Comprehensive Center for Fathers.
  4. Always wear a condom.
  5. Learn to love the melanin ( Google it!) in your skin.
  6. Fight the demons of internalized racism that tell you can only be entertaining or a menace to society.
  7. If you’re not challenging yourself, you’re not living, so since you already know how to play ball, why not try soccer, golf or tennis.
  8. Like me you’re probably love rap and hip hop …try Jazz (Charlie Parker) or Classical ( Andrea Boccelli). You might be surprised
  9. Try to do 30 mins of physical activity a day —some of y’all look sickly. Do a couple of push ups and sit ups; and I dare you to start a joggers’ club in your own ‘hood. Start running around a park, track or ave — health = mind and body.
  10. Watch how much fast food and junk food you consume— it’s all about moderation.
  11. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
  12. Learn how to cook – there’s nothing sexier than a man who can cook. Ask your mom. It will also save you money.
  13. Go back to school for your diploma/degree. Without formal education, your life will likely be filled with menial, low-wage jobs.
  14. Stop hatin’ on each other and beefin’ like every other day. You’re all family anyway.
  15. It’s true. Real men avoid fights and violent confrontation. For if you’re prepared to throw down every time you become frustrated, what separates you from that baby rottweiler that your training to be a “killer”?
  16. Learn to reason and think critically.
  17. Don’t be afraid to tell the homies in your life that you love them.
  18. Once a week, do something nice for someone other than yourself.
  19. Faith is a game changer.
  20. It’s OK to be young, but that doesn’t mean you have to be rude and disrespectful. Don’t cuss in front of adults and women, while you’re on the buses and trains in the morning; and no one needs to know about the imaginary chick you had “sex” with last night. When we all know it was just you and a pic of Nicki Minaj.
  21. Learn to say “please” and “thank you” — being polite can go a long way.

By the way, I come to you as someone who grew up in foster care and who faced many challenges as a kid of an abusive heroine addict who was in and out of prisons…section 8, welfare, WIC, food stamps and nights in shelters. But, what was meant for evil… Look at this child of God now. And I know it’s a struggle, I’ve lived it, but why give up and give in when so many (even those that look like you) are expecting you to fail? It can be done. You can be great! Your life can be different. Don’t listen to what they tell you, you are. Be who God created you to be — anything!

With Love-


Dr. Chuck
Twitter: @drchuckwilliams
Instagram: @DRCHUCKTV

Charles A. Williams has dedicated his life to addressing youth development issues ranging from bullying, diversity and school violence, to mentoring and achievement of special needs youth. Dr. Williams has joint faculty appointments at Drexel University as an associate teaching professor in the Department of Psychology and the School of Education. He is the founding director of the Center for the Prevention of School-Aged Violence at Drexel.

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