Brothers Can We Talk?
By Ronald Yates
Brothers, when was the last time you sat down with a group of brothers to just talk and allowed yourself to open up about all of those things that have been weighing heavily on your mind and heart? I can remember growing up, having a young man, named Naheem who took the time to give us knowledge of ourselves, our power, purpose, and potential was priceless. He taught us the “Days Mathematics and the 120.” We would gather in what he called a cipher and work in unity to build. We didn’t build structures, we got together to lift each other’s consciousness. For some of you brothers, this will sound familiar. During that time men had no problem sharing information with other men, particularly younger men.
Some of my greatest life lessons were learned sitting in a barbershop listening to some of the neighborhood seniors discuss their lives, how some of them came north fleeing the segregated South only to find segregation existed in the north as well. They talked about how rapidly things were changing with each generation and how the neighborhoods were taking a turn for the worse. But despite their dire realizations and warnings, they were still optimistic about the future. They believed the younger generations would have access to opportunities they could only dream of while growing up. These seniors are all amongst their ancestors now. While they played a significant role in the lives of so many young men, me included, they never received the respect and honor they were due.
Today, our elders are rarely acknowledged… unfortunately, more importance is placed on money, power, and superficial things than people. The brothers who use to come around to teach and offer us much-needed wisdom are no longer available to today’s generation of young men. Somewhere along the way we’ve taken a turn onto darker paths that, often, lead from one dismal dead-end road to another. We no longer share our pain and aspirations with other brothers. Instead, we have evolved into a generation of hurting young men trapped within the illusions of life rather than the realities. However, there are those of us who have learned from experience, that hurting people only inflicts pain on others. But we must accept the fact that we, and those we love, have suffered too much pain for far too long. It’s time for us to, once again, come together into ciphers to listen to and share with one another. It’s time for us to build solid foundations on which we can collectively grow into the men we were created to be. Our coming together in unity to build empires that stand the test of time is long overdue.
The first thing we’ll need to build would be our relationships with ourselves and each other. Then we can begin the process of rebuilding our relationships with the women who have stood by our sides through the storms of life and the staid moments that kept us just barely holding on and, finally, our children. It’s time we learn that we are not each other’s enemy, that we have a bond that although strained is not broken. Brothers if you’re reading this, I urge you to take some time to talk to a brother, especially a young brother, and let him know that you care, that you’re there for him. Let him know that there is no subject too hard or insignificant to discuss. We must acknowledge the fact that we have not always been there for one another and that at times, the abandonment we have felt was real and not just imagined.
My mighty and powerful Brothers, it’s time for us to begin anew by accepting the fact that the only way to fix us is for us to come together and work together to fix ourselves. We must no longer allow our sisters to struggle to do the fixing. This has not worked and will never work because it’s up to us to do the primary work of self-fixing. The reality is… our sisters have tried and struggled for too long; now it is up to us.