The inauguration of President Barack Obama was an enormous victory in the civil rights movement. This week we witnessed the swearing of the presidential oath "(by) a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant."
The inauguration of Barack Obama as our country's first president of African-American heritage serves as a powerful message to young black men across our country - you CAN be whatever you want to be in America, this is a land of opportunity for ALL who are wilinng to work for their dreams.
There is no doubt that this victory is large, but it is also a victory that is behind us now. We do not have time to rest on our laurels as we face the newer challenges presented to our country, our economy and our planet today.
While we may have sworn in a black president, it does not change the fact that the young black male is in a crisis situation in our country.
A crisis because 32% of black males born in 2001 can expect to serve some time in prison, if the current incarceration trends continue.
A crisis because more young black males live in prison cells than in college dorms.
A crisis because 10% of young black males between the ages of 18 and 24 are incarcerated today... and for the other 90%, life in America continues to dole out challenges from a systemic racism we still have a long way to go in overhauling.
How do we address the myriad issues of systemic racism that continue to plague this vital portion of our population? And how much could our country benefit - financially and emotionally - from the healing of the ever-widening rift between young black men and the rest of an upwardly mobile society?
The handling of this crisis of our young black men can only start in one place - the same place everything starts. In the home.
We cannot wait for our educational system to be fixed while in our inner cities more than half of black men do not finish high school. We simply do not have the time to wait. We must bring education home. We must find ways to encourage parents to read with their children, to learn with their children, and have time to simply be parents to their children. The hours spent this way during childhood pay back a thousand fold in adulthood in the forms of self-esteem, honor, ambition, respect and civic responsibility.
Could the encouragement of these types of activities - and the overall encouragement of retaining the family unit in America - come in the form of government-subsidized hours spent parenting?