Sunday, September 13, 2015
Every so often, I'll write something that I think is good, that I think will sell easily, but it doesn't sell and I still need to say it publicly. This is such a piece. I was unable to sell it, to either the Boston Herald or the Boston Globe, although it came somewhat close with the Herald. They told me it was a good idea for a story, but they wanted it executed a bit differently. By the time I got the word on that - they asked for a quick re-write - it was too late. I had been out doing other things and did not get the message until after the op-ed page had been set. Oh, well. It was nice to know they basically were ready to wait on a re-write, but...
Anyway, here it is. I hope you find it interesting.
On Tuesday, the first day back to school for many kids in Boston, there were black men lined up outside of some schools to welcome them back. They were there to give the children applause as they entered.
This demonstration of support for students came about as the result of an initiative by former State Representative Carlos Henriquez. He had read about it being done in other cities, thought it was a fine idea, and he asked men of color – via Facebook, e-mail and other ways – to take part.
I found out about this from the on-line news aggregator, Universal Hub. When that site carried the story, I was amazed to see comments denigrating the effort. Someone wondered whether men of other races were invited to take part. Another person damned with faint praise by pointing out some less-than-stellar things about Henriquez’s past.
I'm often first in line to complain about ANYTHING based on race, color, gender or other qualifiers that exclude. But this effort was just fine by me. As a matter of fact, I think it was wonderful. A repeat of it, at some other back-to-school time, would be welcomed.
A common conception of black families has become one of Mom or the grandparents raising children when a young black man has fathered a child and then abandoned what should be hia family responsibilities. Whether true or not for any specific family unit, this showed the kids - and society in general - that there are lots of black men who do the right thing, work hard, and who want to be there for their children. People doing the right thing always deserve appreciation, not scorn. Anything that strengthens family is swell. Isn’t that what so many complain about, a lack of such values? Beyond that, how could kids not like being applauded? And to receive that applause for going to school? This was great stuff, not some reason to complain.
We have, in so many discouraging ways, become a society that separates rather than brings together. We are generally asked by government to think of ourselves as hyphenated Americans, not partner citizens questing for true equality. And the more some of us – and, by that, I mean white people, like me - become discouraged by such, we sometimes lash back instinctively when, on the surface, it appears another separation has occurred. So, I can see where some might look at an event such as this and see a similar division being encouraged. The difference – and I think it’s an extremely important one – is that these men gave of their time freely. They were not compelled to make this effort via some edict handed down from on high. They volunteered to make children feel loved, welcomed and encouraged. Some showed, by this sterling example, that they are fathers who care, who will be there, and who want nothing but the best for their kids. For all, it was a chance to publicly show love to young children.
If there’s something wrong about that, I sure can’t see it.
Soon, with more better stuff.