This semester, my two English 104 classes will be discussing Privilege during the first part of the semester. Here is their assignment:
Privilege (a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people). In this world that we live in, privilege allows certain individuals advantages that other groups just don’t get to experience. The difficult thing about explaining privilege is that so often those with it don’t even recognize they possess it. But almost everyone experiences some type of privilege based on ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality and/or class. Your goal for this essay is to explore a form of privilege that is of interest to you and discuss how it affects the ones who have it and the ones who don’t. You are also tasked to talk about ways we can address your chosen privilege topic in a larger scale. Feel free to explore how the type of privilege you chose to research affects you specifically. Do you benefit from that privilege or has it hindered you in any way?
As a black women in her late 40s, I often don’t think of myself in terms of how privilege works in my own life. It is so easy to think about the privilege I don’t have, than to focus on the privilege I do have. But I got a firsthand look at it on Wednesday, January 7, 2015, one of the coldest days we’ve experienced this winter. The wind-chill was in the Negative Twenties and reports of sick babies in the shelters was enough to make me brave the cold in search of cold medicines to take to these precious lambs whose only crime was to be born into poverty and a world that often forgets them.
So, I racked my brains to figure out how I could get the most bang for my buck with limited teacher’s budget, and I remembered the Dollar Tree sold cold medicine so I bundled up and headed to the store. I went to the medicine aisle in the store with purpose. And I scored BIG. I was able to get 25 bottles of Tylenol and Tussin for babies and small children. I almost danced a jig. I even went on and bought some pacifiers (2 per pack), baby bottles and baby wipes! When I got to the counter, the sales person smiled at me and I smiled at her. She said, “That’s a lot of cold medicine.” I laughed and said, “Yes. Didn’t I do good. I’m taking these to the Holy Family Shelter to help those sick babies get better.” She practically teared up and as she rang me up she said, “God bless you, honey.” I said the words back to her, and then bebopped out to my car.
As I was driving towards the shelter, it hit me. Wait a minute. YOU just bought 25 bottles of medicine and no one even doubted your story. How is that? And then I got it. It is amazing I didn't stop my car in the middle of the interstate. I just experienced middle aged privilege and I was totally oblivious to it while I was in the moment. WOW, I thought. A part of me wanted to rush and share with my students what I just experienced, and the other part was like, DANG. You just got treated like an old lady. I thought about it. I was dressed nice. I spoke clearly and confidently. And my salt and pepper hair gave me that added boost of credibility. Not to mention the person waiting on me was also middle aged. We spoke each other "language." She looked at me and saw a comrade not someone who was going to go home and abuse her new stash of cold meds.
Had a twenty-something person bounced into the store with the same intentions, I doubt the outcome would have been the same. At the very least, the manager would have probably been called up to ascertain the intentions of the young buyer. At the very worst, police or store security could have been brought into the picture. Who knows?
When I went back and told my students, they all groaned at the same time when I got to the part about going to the counter with all of my baby meds. One young white male said, “I would have gotten busted big time.” Another said, “I would not have even attempted to buy that much medicine at one time.”
In that moment, I think privilege began to make sense to some of my students. Some of them realized what I'd been telling them which is privilege is often so unconscious to the person experiencing it, that unless that person is really striving to recognize how privilege works in his/her life, that person can miss it. Had I not been teaching this section on privilege I probably wouldn’t have even recognized that I had experienced it. I would have delivered my baby meds and just celebrated the fact that I got an incredible deal that was going to take care of a lot of sick babies.
There are 14,297 black people who live in Ferguson, MO. Since Monday, November 24, 2014, approximately 119 people have been arrested. Of that number a little over half were residents of Ferguson AND all of those arrested were not black. White people have gone to jail for what they believe is a travesty to all this country stands for. So have Latinos. And Asians. And Muslims. And Christians. And every group one can imagine. This is not a black issue. This is a human issue. Furthermore, the majority of those arrests did not involve violent crimes or vandalism. Only seven, SEVEN, were arrested on felony charges; the MAJORITY were arrested because of failure to disburse.
So, to those who are trying to imply all or most of the black folks in Ferguson are going crazy looting and committing violent acts, shut up. Your voice is neither needed or desired. The majority of the people of Ferguson are at home, grieving and mourning the loss of Michael Brown and the loss of their faith in a system that has failed them time and time again. The majority of the people of Ferguson are sitting behind closed doors, holding their children tighter because they fear allowing them to even go check the mail could lead to their death or injury.
So, to all of you armchair racist, do your homework before you make incendiary comments about how black folks are conducting themselves right now. Stop being a tool used by a racist media that wants you to believe black folks are out of control. Trust and believe, we are still in control of our emotions and actions and they world should be on a prayerful vigil that it remains that way.
If you can't discern fact from fiction, then stay away from the news. You are a danger to your own weak minds, and the weak minds of those who are listening to you. Oh no. I'm. Not. Going. To. Be. Quiet. I am just getting started.
If, by chance, you are as outraged at what took place in Ferguson, MO as I am, then please, join me this Friday, this Black Friday, in this national movement to not spend one dime on a system that clearly believes brown doesn't matter. #NotOneDime
Thank you Chantel Acevedo for inviting me to take up the Chocolate Challenge: three books, three reviews, three types of chocolate. And with my sweet tooth…chocolate is the best way to describe some of the delicious books listed below! You can read Chantel’s take on the challenge on her web page ihola and you can also follow her on Twitter @chantelacevedo. Check out her new novel, A Falling Star, published in August 2014 and her novel, Love and Ghost Letters.
Dark chocolate is often described as chocolate that has a somewhat bitter taste to it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but it stays with you long after you consume it. That is why the first book I am going to mention is by the late, great Bebe Moore Campbell, 72 Hour Hold. This book has stayed with me since I first read it in 2005. At the time, I was struggling with debilitating depression, and I stumbled upon this book while trying to find something to distract me from my own struggles and maybe even inform me about some of the concerns I had about my own illness. This book accomplished both.
72 Hour Hold is the story of a mother, Keri, who is trying to come to terms with her daughter, Trina’s, struggles with bipolar disorder. Trina went from being a normal vivacious young person, to becoming a violent, disruptive shadow of her former self. This novel shows the true nature of this disease and how it not only affects the person suffering from it, but also the ones who love the sufferer. The reader gets to see Keri fighting her child, as she fights her ex-husband and a flawed system in order to insure Trina gets the help she needs. The reader witnesses Keri’s overwhelming love for her daughter and her willingness to do anything to get her daughter back.
This book is not for the faint of heart. Bebe Moore Campbell doesn’t sugarcoat bipolar disorder and she doesn’t offer any easy solutions, hence the bitter chocolate taste that is left in the reader’s mouth after completing this well-written piece of fiction. It is a tragedy that Ms. Bebe Moore Campbell is no longer with us. Her voice is greatly needed.
It is ironic. I am currently reading THE OTHER WES MOORE for school. In a nutshell, the book is about two African American men named Wes Moore who lived blocks from each other. One went on to have a successful career and family life, and the other went on to a life of crime that ultimately ended him up in prison. The moral of the story is you can have two guys with the same name from the same place, yet something simple can cause their lives to diverge and go a different direction.
It is ironic that I am reading this book because today I am thinking about a young man named Michael Brown whose life has ended as a result of a police officer shooting him multiple times and in my family, we have a Michael Brown too. He is my stepson, but I never fear for his life the way I do for my son. Not because I love my son more, but because unlike my stepson, my son has brown skin. My stepson is white, and not once in his life have I worried about him getting shot by the convenience store clerk because he was sagging his pants or looking “angry.” Not once have I worried that a routine traffic stop could result in my white stepson being falsely arrested, or worse, shot dead with little or no regard. Not once have I said to my white son, “Smile. Don’t be mean-mugging. Let people know you aren’t a threat.” Not once.
The media has decided to focus on the looting and violence that took place after the murder of Michael Brown. Two issues that need to be kept separate. The looters need to be dealt with according to the letter of the law. But the murder of Michael Brown needs to be dealt with separate and apart from this looting and violence, because when we try and connect the two, the message is clear. “See, those folks are nothing but criminals and thugs. THEY don’t deserve justice.” That is the message that is being sent and that is the message that is being heard and regurgitated by so many. If the looters burn down the entire city, that doesn’t change the fact that a mother and father lost their child.
My students and I will be talking about this issue. My students are mainly white, but they need to know that this issue is not a black/brown issue. This issue is OUR issue and it will take ALL of us to reach a solution. This issue of police brutality and disregard for certain segments of the population has to be addressed as an issue that is important for ALL citizens of this country.
I read the article, "MFA or POC" in the New Yorker by Junot Díaz a few months ago when it was first printed, and I felt a genuine sadness for him that his MFA experience was so unfulfilling. I am a graduate of Spalding University's Low Residency MFA program. My experience there was one of support, empathy, respect and encouragement. Now, did I always feel like my work was 100% understood. Of course not. However, I never felt like any of my teacher/mentors or fellow classmates tried to marginalize or invalidate my work because maybe they were not writing about black folks from the rural south. Yes, there were times when I was the only black person in the room, but truly, I never felt like that fact inhibited the discussion.
Sometimes there were more questions in workshop than solutions. The workshop leaders/classmates really sank their teeth into the work being discussed. They challenged their own interpretations. Sometimes people relied on those in the room who are closest to the culture being written about. Often discussions turned to literature that was similar to the work being discussed, but never did I ever feel like my work was not being taken seriously.
A lot of my stories are slave narratives written in dialect. Again, no one ever said, "why are you writing in that difficult, hard to understand language?" And to be honest, much to my surprise, fellow classmates and mentor/teachers treated dialect like it was a language, something I never experienced in graduate school before. If anything, people encouraged me to continue to write in dialect, and as a result, I was able to develop my skills in writing this beautiful language in such a way that I can maintain the reverence I feel for it but it also present it in a readable and understandable fashion to my audience of readers.
I credit our leaders at Spalding, Sena Jeter Naslund, Kathleen Driskell, Karen Mann and Katy Yocom, for making it clear that the workshop is designed to encourage the writer whose work was being discussed and not tear down the writer or leave that person feeling abused and unvalidated. Now that does not mean we didn't have some intense discussions and disagreements at times, but at the end of the day, we realized our competition, as so eloquently stated by Sena, "was not in the room but in the library and bookstores." I never felt the uber competitiveness at Spalding that I've heard other MFA grads from other schools talk about. Even now, the vast majority of my community of supporters and friends are my Spalding classmates/mentors/teachers/leaders.
So, I said all of that to say, research closely the MFA programs that are out there. Don't just take for granted what their materials say. And don't pick a school just because your favorite writer teaches there. Go visit them. Ask if you can sit in on a workshop or lecture. Talk to graduates/current students/teachers. Most times, they will tell you the truth. And of course, I would love for you to check out Spalding. My life changed radically when I walked into the MFA office at Spalding, not really sure if being a writer was still a viable option for me. Karen Mann made me believe that day that not only was my dream possible, but she was going to do everything in her power to support it. And I found this to be true for everyone else I encountered at Spalding. If you would like to find out more about The Spalding low residency MFA in Writing Program, click here.
BIO: Angela Jackson-Brown is an award winning writer and poet who teaches Creative Writing and English at Ball State University in Muncie, IN. Her work has been widely published in journals like The Louisville review, New Southerner Literary Review and 94 Creations, to name a few. She is the author of, Drinking From A Bitter Cup, and is hard at work writing her second novel.
"One approximation of the annual number of homeless in America is from a study by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, which estimates between 2.3 and 3.5 million people experience homelessness." ("Facts and Figures: The Homeless PBS.org)
Yes, we are our brother's keeper. We are morally responsible for acknowledging and doing something about the suffering of those who, for whatever reason, are drowning right around us. Sometimes it is enough to simply stop and have a conversation. To say, "Hello. Have a good day." To acknowledge that the individual who is begging for your money and/or your attention could just as easily be you or someone you love. So, to all who read these words, Be blessed, and remember, today you might be on top of the world. Tomorrow the world might be on top of you.
To The Homeless Guy On The Side Of The Road
I try not to make eye contact
with you because if our eyes were
to meet, I might actually see inside
your soul. And the thought of being
that close to the essence of you scares
me, so each and every time I turn away
or I simply focus on the words you’ve
written on your sign.
Before, your sign said,
“Help! I’m homeless,” and before that “I’m hungry. Can you
spare some change?” Now, your sign simply says “God Bless.”
You ask for nothing—you simply shuffle around in some
bizarre dance, arms flapping like a strangled bird.
Each day you and your sign haunt me. I
worry that if I see your eyes, if I really look into them
I will find that you are no con man, no flim flam artist
but a man whose down on his luck and has no greater
wish than to make me smile and send God’s blessings
my way—and for that, you neither want nor desire for
me to pay.
The other reason I never meet your eyes is because I don’t
want to see that you need more from me
than some nickels and dimes. I’m worried that
to see your soul I’ll see a reflection of the souls of my dad,
my uncles, my brothers or my cousins who
by fates chance never ended up
on the side of the road hoping God or some kind lady
would offer them a look—a glance.
So I don’t look at you because I don’t have
time to be my brother’s keeper. Not today. I’ve got schedules
to keep and deadlines to meet and for me to take on
your problems on top of my own
is way too much.
So I look away.
I look away.
© Angela Jackson-Brown
Read more by Angela Jackon-Brown: Drinking From A Bitter Cup
Sometimes, trying to push out the words of a new story or poem is just like trying to push out a newborn. The words get stubborn and comfortable inside the mind where they've been gestating for days, weeks, months, sometimes years. They cling onto the notion that they are safer if they stay wrapped up inside the uterus of the writer's mind. So, sometimes we writers need a literary midwife or two or three to coach us and coax that baby out. Somebody who'll stay with us and that story 'til the birthing process is done. Somebody who'll say, "Daughter, let those words go. Ain't you tired of carrying that full-term baby around in your belly? You are? Then bear down, baby. Bear down and push that baby out."
I am in the wonderful, scary space of completing my second novel. The bearing down and pushing out of the words has, at times, been difficult, but thankfully, I have a village of literary midwives who are constantly encouraging me and pushing me to birth this baby out. So, today, I honor them. They know who they are. Love.
I suffer from depression and anxiety. Whenever I reveal that part of myself to people, most times I get, “Oh, you just worry too much. Just let it go.” Or I hear, “Honey, I do too. I just don’t let it get to me.” The problem for those of us living with clinical depression is there often isn’t something tangible to let go of and trust and believe, if not allowing “it” to get to us was an option, we would all be cured.
People with the type of depression and anxiety I suffer from can be fine one moment and feeling like they are about to have a heart attack or stroke the next. The worst anxiety attack I ever remember having was when my son was a toddler and I had just picked him up from daycare. Nothing in particular was bothering me that day. In fact, I remember having had one of the best discussions with my Freshman English class earlier that day, so there was nothing going on to forewarn me of the meltdown I was about to have. I went inside the daycare, spoke to everyone, and gathered up my son’s belongings without incident. But, as I walked to the car, I felt panic swell up in me from the tip of my toes, to the top of my head. I was fortunate to even get him into his car seat.
I know we sat outside of his school for at least thirty minutes, perhaps longer. I couldn’t breathe. I was sweating profusely, and I was gulping for air and trying to free my clouded brain enough to figure out what to do next. My son was terrified. At that time, I didn’t have a cell phone. There was a pay phone outside his daycare, but the thought of walking the few steps it would have taken to get to it and make a call to my ex-husband or my good friend, seemed as implausible as me climbing up Mount Everest. And anyway, at that time, there was no one I felt safe calling. Paranoia and the reality of my situation kept me from seeking help.
Thankfully, the feeling of anxiety passed. I pulled myself together and drove my son directly to McDonalds. Money was tight back then, but I knew without all doubt that for what he had just endured, I was determined to reward him with a Happy Meal. For months after that, those attacks would come on me without rhyme or reason. Once it happened while I was at a poetry reading. The actress in me came out. I worked my panic into my reading and the crowd loved it. They loved it and I felt like dying.
My depression is something altogether different than the panic attacks. There is no “acting” through it. Imagine there is a huge boulder inside your head, weighing down your brain. Imagine trying to think with such a boulder pressing against the parts of your brain that allow you to function. Clinical depression is not sadness. Living with clinical depression, when it is at its worse, is like being inside of a dark hole where there is limited amounts of oxygen for you to even breathe, let alone get up and be a productive person.
Some days, when I felt that overwhelming feeling of despair, I could fight it. Most days, I just had to ride the wave until it let up. I am not ashamed to say that I rely on meds to help me deal with it. But even being on medication can be a trial for the person living with depression. I have had “well-meaning” people tell me, as I’m struggling to hang on, if my faith were stronger I wouldn’t need the meds. I’ve said in response, when I had the energy to respond, “Yeah, so go tell that to the person with diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol.” Years ago, I had a stroke. For a time, doctors had me taking medicine to prevent me from having another one. I cannot imagine those same people telling me, “Oh, stop taking those blood thinners. Where is your faith, dear?”
Well, I am here to tell those of you, who think depression is a game some people play to get attention (Oh yeah, I’ve heard that one too) or that it is not equal to the diseases I listed above, in the loudest voice I can muster, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY IS REAL. So, if you can sympathize with those individuals with “physical illnesses,” then please, do the same for those of us who struggle to cope with depression and anxiety.
I mean, I do get why people are confused. Everybody feels sad sometimes. We all get anxious. Well, I am here to tell you, what ordinary people feel and what those of us with diagnosed depression and anxiety feel is almost literally night and day. There are days when raising my head off the pillow seems too much. There are days when I feel weepy for no apparent reason. There are days when I know I have tons of things on my to-do list, but the best I can do is channel surf and watch reruns of Project Runway or Charmed. There are days when I put on my “Angela Jackson-Brown persona” and pray that others can’t see how vulnerable and broken I feel inside. There are times when I have thought about dying. Wished for the death angel to come and steal my breath away. Thankfully, those days are few and far between. Thankfully, I now have a husband who “gets” me and knows that when I withdraw it isn’t personal. He understands that sometimes the shadows are more real to me than flesh and blood. But again, thankfully, those days are not the norm.
So, why am I confessing these details about myself? Mainly so people will understand that those who appear to be the most “put together” are often the ones with the most cracks. Telling this part of my story is a bit frightening. The questions always are: “What will people do with this information?” “Will coming clean about my experiences with depression and anxiety affect my personal life?” “Will it affect my career?” Well, today, I say, Whatever. If sharing my most closely guarded “secret” can help someone, then so be it, and let whatever comes come.
I have held crying, depressed students in my arms. Students who were so far over the edge I was amazed they were still hanging on. Students who could not produce a medical document saying they were sick, but all it took was for the fellow sufferer in me to look at them and know, those young men and women are drowning. So, with them, I share my story. And if they repeat it and/or twist it, I say, that is on them. But mainly what I see happen when I tell them my truth is their eyes become less cloudy. Most times they look at me incredulously and say, “You? You have this too?” My answer is “Yes. I do. But, we can fight it. We can win. It doesn't have to define us. We can take this mess and turn it into our message.”
You would be amazed at how much good you can achieve by just owning up to your “stuff.” No matter what the stuff might be. Hence why I talk about the child sexual abuse I went through. Hence why I talk about being adopted. Hence why I talk about my struggles with my health. Suffering in isolation is the worst part of suffering. If we can speak our truth to the world, then we have the power to overcome our suffering.
We live in a society where it is acceptable to live with diabetes, heart disease, chronic arthritis and a myriad of other conditions. Yet, to acknowledge having any form of depression or mental illness is often a quick way to lose respect and confidence from those in our lives, both professional and/or social. The CDC reports “1 in 10 U.S. adults report” they are living with depression. The operative word is “report.” Because depression and anxiety is such a taboo issue, most people just “live with it.” Silently. This is wrong. No one should have to face this sickness alone. And no one should be condemned for having to deal with this monster of a disease.
So, I am coming out of the closet. Yes. I am a survivor of depression and anxiety. Yes, every day I get up and use every coping mechanism I have to keep myself above water. Some days I float. Other days, it is a constant doggy paddle to keep from going under. But in the words of V. Michael McKay and Paul Jones, “All of my good days,/Outweigh my bad days/I won’t complain.”
Angela Jackson-Brown was born in Montgomery, Alabama and grew up in Ariton, Alabama. She is an English Professor at Ball State University in Muncie, IN. She graduated from Troy University in Troy, AL (B.S. in Business Administration); Auburn University in Auburn, AL (M.A. in English); and Spalding University in Louisville, KY (MFA in Creative Writing). Her work has appeared in literary journals, such as: Pet Milk, Uptown Mosaic Magazine, New Southerner Literary Magazine, The Louisville Review, Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal, Blue Lake Review, Identity Theory, Toe Good Poetry, and 94 Creations. Her short story, “Something in the Wash” was awarded the 2009 fiction prize by New Southerner Literary Magazine and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Fiction. Her play, Wade in the Water, was professionally read at The University of Louisville in the summer of 2012. Her debut novel, Drinking from a Bitter Cup was published by WiDo Publishing on January 7, 2014. She is the mother of two sons, Justin Bean and Michael Brown, and the wife of Robert L. Brown.
Our sons are imploding on themselves. Across all ethnic and social groups, these young men-children are imploding AND WE ARE STANDING AROUND WATCHING AS IF THIS MESS WAS A QUENTIN TERANTINO MOVIE AND NOT REAL LIFE. If we are waiting for "the government" to "change" things, we are fighting a losing battle. The village needs to rise up again. The young men are sending us all of the signals we need that they are drowning and we are standing around with life vests in our hands WATCHING THE TIDE TAKE THEM OVER.
PARENTS/TEACHERS/COUNSELORS/COACHES/MENTORS: If you parent/mentor/teach a man-child who is a loner, spends hours playing video games, watches hours of violent television/movies, suffers from manic depression, is bullied, is fascinated by weapons (guns, knives, etc.), doesn't talk to you or anyone, spends hours developing his on-screen persona, THREATENS TO TAKE HIS LIFE OR OTHERS ---THESE ARE RED FLAGS. I'm not saying every young man who fits the descriptions above is a killer in training, but I am saying THOSE ARE SIGNS. If my son suddenly had trouble breathing, that's a sign something is wrong. I'm not waiting to see if something else goes wrong with him, all I need is ONE SIGN and I am investigating with all of the power my body and mind possesses. We will miss signs. We're human. But when the signs are FLASHING in our eyes, blinding us, how can we continue to ignore them?
WE DON'T NEED LEGISLATION TO FIGURE OUT OUR YOUNG MEN ARE DROWNING! THE VILLAGE NEEDS TO RISE UP AND RECLAIM OUR YOUNG MEN AGAIN.
I don't wait for the young men I teach to "come to me" if they have a problem anymore. I look for the signs, and I pounce. I don't have that kind of luxury to wait for them to realize they are drowning anymore because these men-children are not waiting on us anymore. They are crying out and acting out in ways that brings closure to the lives of others as well as their own.
While I wait, my classroom could easily turn into a blood bath. We see it on television every week, sometimes every day. I can't wait for my leaders to lead us out of this wilderness. I love living too much, and I love seeing life radiating on the faces of my students way too much to wait for my government or my employer or anyone else to FIX THE PROBLEM with band-aids and duct tape. And the overwhelming feeling I experience every day I walk into the classroom is, even with all of the precautions I take for myself and my students, we are still at risk. We are still on the frontlines with nothing but slingshots made out of useless rhetoric spoken by politicians and news people who don't even have a clue.
On average, I am responsible for 90+ students every semester. I am responsible for making sure that 180 +/- parents get to hold their child again after the semester is over. The days of throwing signals and hints to them to "share with me" if they are struggling has passed. While I'm waiting for them to get brave enough to approach me, I and my students could all be dead and gone. If I can see with my natural eyes that I have students, particularly male students--no matter the hue of their skins--who are coming apart at the seams, I run not walk to them, and engage them in nonjudgmental conversation. I give them my phone number if I see they are without a support system. I tell them, call me and I will not judge you. I encourage them to get counseling. And when necessary, I alert the powers that be that WE have a troubled man-child or girl-child in our village and WE have to do something to help them.
WE HAVE TO SEE THEM AGAIN. We have to stop being afraid of gathering them up in our protective wings. We have to stop being afraid of pissing off a teenager or a young adult by getting "in their business." We have to stop trying to be their "friends." That doesn't mean we can't be friendly, but these men-children need authority figures who care and are offering help and solutions more than they need a "buddy." We have to stop waiting for laws and laws and more laws to FIX what is wrong with our men-children. THEY ARE BROKEN. THEY ARE BROKEN. They are broken and no single law alone is going to fix their brokenness.
We see them drowning and we do nothing. Gun laws alone will not fix the problem. Mental health laws alone will not fix the problem. Putting warning labels on video games and movies alone will not fix the problem. Parents and teachers and neighbors have to re-engage with our young men. That means, we correct them. We challenge them. We support them. We love them and we DON'T judge them according to their zip codes. We love them because they are a part of our village and our village includes all parts of this country, not just the the dot on the map where we live.
WE HAVE TO RE-ENGAGE THE VILLAGE. THE VILLAGE HAS TO RECLAIM OUR MEN-CHILDREN AGAIN BECAUSE RIGHT NOW -- we are losing them.