On February 26, 2009, Dr. John Y. Odom spoke at the University of Wisconsin-Madison at the “2nd Annual Black Men’s Initiative Forum 2010.” He gave the men (and some women) of all races some great insights. He challenged them to graduate from college as soon as they can so that they can go into the “real world” and make a difference. His call for Black males to graduate and go into their communities and make the difference is such an important message.
Black men need to understand that we have to seize on a critical moment that we have to evince and illuminate our greatness. Black men have to understand that we have to do a better job of helping one another to increase, improve, and further develop our skills, talents, and knowledge. Imagine a day when Black men in America and globally are truly united with one another. This will be a day when we can work to dismantle the damaging stereotypes and stigmas that plague our progress. The struggle for Black male progress will not be fully realized until we have stronger support from Black females and higher expectations from them for Black males.
Too many Black women want a Black man who is a “thug.” Ironically, these same Black women want Black men who are educated, able to provide them with the finer phenomena in life, and who will be an excellent father for their children. This ignorance emanating from many Black females has to end if they want their Black men to be able to be the empowered leaders they so criticallly need them to be. Far too frequently do I hear Black women talking about Black men are nothing but “dogs,” “pimps,” “drug dealers,” “players,” and etc. My simple response to the name calling engaged in by many Black women is you all made them that way—for the most part. When you all are constantly giving away your bodies so easily to them—this will turn them into dogs, pimps, and players. What else did you expect?
The way that Black men and women need to correct the problems that they both face is to set higher expectations for themselves. For example, there are people who are in college at some of the finest schools in the nation—like University of Wisconsin-Madison—who think that they have to make going to college and being successful “cool” by doing phenomena that have caused those who are not in college or who are not successful to be where they are today—like getting drunk everyday, smoking weed everyday, busting slack, wearing clothes that you know does not make you look like you are striving for success, intentionally talking in an ignorant way just to demonstrate how “hood” you are or how much of a thug you are, and etc.
A new day needs to begin where Black people acknowledge that our Black foremothers and forefathers died for us to have the right to be free. In this right to be free came the right to be free from low expectations. Today, I make a solemn plea to you—Black people—to demand higher expectations of yourselves, and to fight against any barriers, people, and institutions that would try to prevent you from being the greatest person you can be. Being truly successful will demand that you not simply do traditional and popular phenomena. You just might have to upset some people, but it’s all for your betterment and the betterment of the American and global community. Until you give up doing phenomena that are always popular, you will always be a slave!
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison