Thursday, March 4, 2010

College Campus Violence: Is This How We Do It?

     The smell of catfish, barbecue ribs and Cajun chicken fill the air.  Marching bands and entertainers from across the Midwest pump to the funky beats of old school Michael Jackson music.  The funk is followed by the latest hip hop grooves from Trey Songz to Gucci Mane.  Neighborhoods all around Lincoln University are filled with people enjoying the activities associated with LU’s 2009 Homecoming Festival and Parade.  The theme for the event is “This Is How We Do It.”  A vibe I really feel good about because it also happened to be the theme song for my wedding party back in the day.  The brothers and sisters up on Fraternity Hill are celebrating as they overlook Dwight Reed Stadium where the Blue Tigers are playing Pittsburg State University.  A week earlier, I was at the Circle City Classic in Indianapolis.  I feel as if I’m experiencing the Classic all over again in Jefferson City, Missouri.  My family feels the love on campus between alumni and current students.  I even videotape the festival and parade for my son who plays on the LU football team.  The players don’t get to see all of the activities that go on around the big game.  I leave LU with reaffirmation that our son is in good hands and has chosen the right college. 
     Late one Tuesday evening in February I receive a call from my son.  He says, “Daddy, I just left the cafeteria and there was a big old fight.”  What happened son?  “I got my food and when I turned around several of my teammates were fighting right there inside the cafeteria at Scruggs University Center.”  He said.  Apparently a group of guys started a fight with a former LU football player and his former teammates went to his aid.  By the time campus police arrived the fight was over.  No one likes a melee in the school cafeteria, but I told my son to be careful and things would get better.  The next night my son calls me again.  This time a Greek event turned violent and it involved some of the same guys from the cafeteria fight.  At this point I’m worried about this situation getting out of hand and escalating into something much worse.  What happened to problem solving?  I must ask our young brothers.  Is this how we do it?
     In March of 2009, strong language was exchanged between students of one dormitory and members of the Morehouse College football team.  According to a report by the Black College Wire, witnesses saw members of the football team beat and stomp one student.  An anonymous witness also claims to have seen a student beaten with a track hurdle.  I ask again.  Is this how we do it?  The following week a Morehouse College administrator was ordered to suspend all outdoor events because of the series of fights that had taken place on campus.    That meant the cancellation of hump Wednesdays, dorm wars and spring fest until further notice.
     Last Friday, I sent a letter expressing my concerns to the President of Lincoln University Dr. Carolyn Mahoney.  I assured her that my family and my son are enjoying our overall experience at a Historically Black College.   Here’s a highlight of my letter. 

Dear Dr. Mahoney,
     “I understand the people causing the violence are a small minority.  I just need some assurance that the bad people will be kicked out of school so they can’t continue to cause problems for the rest of the student body.  At some point we must look at the bottom line and understand that this type of activity can ruin student recruiting.  It can cause damage to the University’s reputation that could take much time to repair.  I believe you owe it to our students to take strong corrective action.  You owe it to the alumni who support you, the school and you owe it to yourselves.” 
   To her credit Dr. Mahoney responded to my letter immediately.  Dr. Mahoney replied, “I appreciate your bringing these concerns to our attention.  I have asked Police Chief Bill Nelson to contact you.  You should hear from him in the near future.  Please be assured that Lincoln University will investigate your concerns and appropriate action will be taken.” 
   That same day I received a phone call from Lincoln University Police Chief Bill Nelson.  He explained that his officers are aware of the situation and working to build their case against the troublemakers.  The key to their success will be students who witnessed the fights to come forward and tell police what they saw.  If LU Students want to make their campus a better place, a safer place, they must take responsibility and help investigators.

     In the year 1866 a group of Missouri soldiers from the 62nd & 65th United States Colored Infantry pooled $6,400 and purchased land on top of a hill in Jefferson City to start a college.  They wanted to educate themselves and future generations.  These brave men had fought with guns, knives and their bare hands for their own freedom.  Now they wanted to fight with their minds for a different kind of liberty and justice that only education can deliver.  Surely what these so-called Buffalo Soldiers had in mind was not to see brothers fighting brothers on their own college campus.  Their goal was for our young people to win the battles against injustice by earning a Bachelor’s degree, a Masters degree and of course a Ph.D. 

     Now is the time for young people on all college campuses to stand up and beat down violence with their minds.  This, my friend, is how we to do it.          

Monday, February 22, 2010

Predators In Our Schools

Her lips were as soft as pillows. Her breasts were as sweet as honey. After weeks of observing him from afar, she devours him with her lustful ways overwhelming him with her sexual power. It sounds like a chapter from a romance novel. Unfortunately, it's a scenario played out in real life for a 17 year old male student who was seduced by a female teaching assistant from his high school. According to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, early this year Pike High School teaching assistant Taine Abdullah picked up this student from his home and they went to see a movie. After the show she gave the young man a fat, juicy french kiss then dropped him off back at home. When I was in high school a french kiss from a girl would set a boy's body on fire. Imagine how this kid's hormones felt after that surprise at the end of a date with a fully developed 40 year old woman. The macho, earthy, human side of me is tempted to say, "Not bad young fella. You've had a cougar experience and survived." Then I remember the boy is a student and this teaching assistant is supposed be a mentor. The father in me says, "We must protect our children from these predators."

"I don't want anything to happen to her because I love her." That's what a teenage girl told Metro Police after her basketball coach was arrested for child seduction last December. Sarah Strahm was hired by Pike High School last spring to turn the program around. She came from Ben Davis High School which was fresh from an undefeated season and ranked as the number one girls hoops team in the nation. By all accounts the Pike girls really responded to Strahm on the court. The were playing better than in previous years and seemed poised to return to a being a respectable program. Detectives claim Strahm had sexual contact with the victim on five occasions. Across town at Warren Central High School two swim coaches Seth Sexton and Matthew Brown were arrested in January. They were accused of having sex with two different girls on the swim team.

The number of Indiana children who were victims of maltreatment in 2007 was 18,380 according to the Administration for Children and Families a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. From that number 15.6% of the children were also victims of sexual abuse. The recently reported cases of adults, specifically, coaches and teachers having sex with Hoosier children shows that parents must show more diligence. Parents are called upon to do a better job of knowing the types of adults their children are around at school and during other activities. In most cases of child seduction the adult is someone the victim and even their parents trust. Parents must have open communication lines with their children so that when red flag activity or conversation starts between an adult and their child they can intervene before it goes too far. Many of us have the good touch, bad touch discussion with them when they're in grade school, but what about the more sophisticated forms good touch, bad touch that takes place in high school. We must talk to our girls and boys about inappropriate conversations, emails, text messages and photos that adults should not exchange with children. We must return to being overly protective as we were when they were young. Doing so could save our children from predators.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Toyota Turmoil

Another day and another recall by Toyota Motor Sales. One week after an all out media blitz to assure customers that Toyota is still a trustworthy brand; the automaker is apologizing to its public once again. This time the fault is with the anti-lock brake system (ABS) in the 2010 Prius. According to Toyota some owners report inconsistencies when they brake on rough or slick surfaces. Around 133,000 Prius vehicles are being recalled so that a software update can be made to repair the anti-lock brake system in the 2010 Prius.

In an article submitted to the Washington Post Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Company, issues an apology, “When consumers purchase a Toyota, they are not simply purchasing a car, truck or van. They are placing their trust in our company.
The past few weeks, however, have made clear that Toyota has not lived up to the high standards we set for ourselves. More important, we have not lived up to the high standards you have come to expect from us. I am deeply disappointed by that and apologize. As the president of Toyota, I take personal responsibility. That is why I am personally leading the effort to restore trust in our word and in our products.”

This is the latest in a series of Toyota recalls involving tricky floor mats and sticky gas pedals. Consumers who don’t own a Toyota may be leery of buying one now. Those who do own one have serious cause for concern. A lawsuit being filed in a U.S. District Court claims certain Toyota car buyers have lost part of their resale value due to the recalls. A lawyer involved in the suit wonders how customers can be certain problems from past recalls have really been fixed. Toyota President, Mr. Toyoda claims 80% of all Toyotas sold in the United States during the last 20 years are still on the road. American automakers like General Motors are not shedding tears for their rival. These major problems come when for the first time ever Toyota has posted an annual loss. You can bet your next “Low Down Payment” that we’ll see a slew of anti-Toyota commercials and sales promotions in the weeks and months ahead.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Football: It's Just A Game

Big Afro, smart and articulate these words describe wide receiver Gene Washington of the San Franciso 49ers. Crafty, tough, smooth and excellent hands describe the skills that made Washington a great football player. Long before he was the Director of Football Operations for the NFL, Washington wore #18 with pride on his way to four consecutive pro bowls from 1969 t0 1972. In 1970 I fell in love with the game of football and the 49ers, largely because of him. When San Franciso lost the NFC Championship game to Dallas two years in a row I was devastated. I became an official Cowboys hater. Growing up in Central Indiana I usually saw a heavy dose of the Chicago Bears and the Cincinnati Bengals. However, my heart was in San Francisco. Whenever they were on television in my area I was glued to the game.
The Jets are going to lay licks on Payton Manning, force the Colts to run the ball and fall to Cinderella. The ghost of Joe Namath or Joe Willie himself is going to show up and give the Jets a repeat victory over Indianapolis. With all of this madness going on I was fully engaged in watching the Colts play the Jets for the AFC Championship. As I settled into the game I noticed my teenage son wasn’t around. He was in his room talking on his cell phone, texting or using the web cam to communicate with friends. I found it odd because he’s a football player who loves the game. I couldn’t imagine why he wouldn’t be totally into his hometown team playing for a chance to reach the Super Bowl. At half time I went to his room and asked why wasn’t he supporting our hometown team by watching the game? He said, “I like the Colts but they’re not my favorite team.” “Well, who is your favorite team?” I replied. To my surprise he said, “Daddy, I don’t have a favorite NFL team. I have a few teams that I like, but no favorite.” Needless to say when the Colts took an “L” at the hands of the Saints in the Super Bowl, I wasn’t surprised when my son showed no emotion during or after the game. No one can remove the 49ers as my favorite team in my heart, but in my mind my hometown Colts had lost a game they were supposed to win. My son’s disposition reminded me that as much as I love football, it's just a game.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Price of Excellence: Open Letter To Our Youth

Some say the American Dream is having a healthy salary, a nice home, a sharp car and money to go on great vacations. Young girls see Beyonce and they want to sing “If I Were A Boy." They see her in movies and commercials and they want to be glamorous like her. They see Jennifer Hudson and they want to sing like her too. They dream of being discovered on American Idol and someday living in the "Spotlight." Young men see Will Smith and wish they could be one of the hottest movie stars in the world, earning $20 million for one movie. And oh yeah he’s married to a fine woman named Jada Pinkett-Smith.
I have a son in college who loves the finer things in life. He enjoys relaxing in the lazy boy recliner. He likes to wear $120 Nike gym shoes. He enjoys having nice clothes. He likes driving nice cars. He likes going on dates with pretty ladies. These are expensive habits that someday he has to figure out a way to support with his own money. That’s why we sent him to college, to find a way to pay for his lifestyle.
Everyday on television, in newspapers and magazines and in music we see and hear about people having the latest toys. It seems everybody has a cell phone with a camera, an iPhone, a blackberry, a Wii or a laptop computer. Rappers sing about having big rocks, real big cars and rolling like stars. These items cost. If you don’t have money you can’t buy them. So far I’ve talked a lot about material things and money. It sounds like money is of the utmost importance. Well it’s not. What’s important is building the foundation which allows you to have the number one tool to generate money. That tool is knowledge in the form of an education, a professional trade or a professional skill.
According to the US Dept. of Commerce your level of education dictates how much money you earn. The report which covers the years 1990 to 2004 says the following. The average income for a person who didn’t graduate from high school is $9.50 an hour. That’s $19,000 a year. With a H.S. diploma or a GED avg. wage is $13 an hour. With a 2 year college degree the salary rises to $16.50 an hour or $33,000 per year. With a 4 year college degree the income moves to $$20.50 per hour or $41,000 per year. With a Master’s degree the salary goes up to $25.50 per hour or $51,000 a year. With a Professional degree, like a Law degree or a medical degree or a degree in architecture the salary goes up to an average of $75,000 a year. A doctorate degree or Ph.D pays on average $68,000 per year.
Do you think you could live off of $41,000 a year…$51,000 a year? Could you live off of $75,000 a year? The good news is the money is waiting for you. All you have to do is go to college, make good grades and graduate.
Two weeks before he was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee Dr. Martin Luther King delivered a sermon at his church in Atlanta, Ebenezer Baptist Church. The title of the Sermon is “The Drum Major Instinct." The drum major instinct is the natural desire to be the leader, to be out front, to be recognized by the crowd. In the 1800’s there was a Drum Major who was perfect for his time and all time. His name was Fredrick Douglass. Frederick Douglass was born a slave on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Frederick’s mother was a slave and his father was the slave master. As a child Frederick secretly learned how to read and write from one of the master’s relatives. Frederick practiced reading and writing and educated himself through books and his own life experiences. Eventually Frederick used his skills to create what was essentially a fake passport that free black men had to carry in their pocket in case someone mistook them for being an escaped slave. The paper would prove they were free men. Frederick used his passport when he escaped to the north where he later wrote a book about his life as a slave. He became a civil rights leader speaking all over the North and in Europe about the injustices of slavery. Eventually, bounty hunters came looking for Frederick Douglass who was now famous to take him back into slavery. That’s when Frederick moved to Europe until he had earned enough money to buy his own freedom from the slave owner. Frederick wrote many articles and delivered many speeches about the injustices of slavery. One of Fredrick’s most important quotes is this one, “If there is no struggle there is no Progress.” If Frederick wasn’t born a slave he would never have experienced the pain of being beaten with a whip by a slave master who wanted to break his spirit, wanted to break him down physically. Had he been born a free man Douglass would not have felt the pain of being separated from his mother as a child. He may not have been called by the Lord to fight for the freedom of black men and women. He may never have become one of the most important and powerful Americans of the 19th Century.
Fredrick Douglass was willing to risk being beaten for learning to read and write. He risked his life to gain his own freedom. He was willing to pay the price. Are you willing to pay the price of earning a degree. I’m not talking about the kind of education where you have 1-A, 1-B, 2-C’s and 1 or 2-D’s on your report card every semester. Paying the price for a solid education is critical to your future.
I want you to understand how to pay the price for your education. First  You have to dream. What do I want to be? What do I want to do with my life? As the ideas start to flow, you have to develop a plan to make your dreams come true. Since you may not have all of the answers in your head, research it in books at the library, get some information from the internet, talk to a career counselor, talk to someone who does what you want to do. Read books about people who do what you want to do. When I was in your shoes back in 1981 I prayed to the Lord for help. Lead me to the right college, make the financial aid money match what I need, help me get a job on campus, give me a scholarship and let me play football.

I feel like singing a song. “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day. When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May. I guess you’d say, what can make me feel this way? My girl, My girl, My girl. I’m talking about My Girl!” That’s the music of Motown, The Motor City properly known as the city of Detroit. On January 12, 2009 the Motown Record Company turned 50 years old. Maybe your dream will lead you to start your own business just like Barry Gordy the founder of Motown Records did. The company was started because Gordy had been writing songs for the great singer Jackie Wilson. Wilson and Elvis Presley had similar styles when it came to their on stage presence. Gordy was worried that as a songwriter he would not make enough money. He wanted to borrow $1,000 from his family to start his own record company. But there was a problem. Barry had already failed at selling Christmas trees, running a record shop and as a professional boxer. Now he wanted to borrow $1,000 from The Gordy Family Fund which his parents and his seven siblings had been contributing $10 a month to. The plan was to use the money to make a record with another Detroit singer, Marv Johnson. Barry had to convince his family to give him a chance.
During the family meeting Gordy pleads for support. He promises that he’s going to be rich and famous. Finally, his mother and father agree to give their ambitious son $800. So on January 12, 1959 with $800 Barry Gordy started Tamla Records. He later renamed the company Motown Records and built a music empire. Motown changed the record industry. For the first time black music artists were working for a major black owned record company and dominating the competition. The list of Motown music artists past and present it long and strong, from The Temptations and The Jackson Five to Diana Ross and the Supremes, of course Stevie Wonder, Lionel Ritchie and Boys II Men. Today the company is called the Universal Motown Records Group. Some of the current artists include singers India.Arie, Erykah Badu, Mýa, Kem, and Yummy Bingham, pop singer Lindsay Lohan, reggae singers Damian and Stephen Marley, and rappers Q-Tip, Trick Trick and Nick Cannon. Motown changed the course of the music industry forever and became one of the most successful black businesses of all time.
The next great entrepreneur could be you. You could be a master barber or a dynamic hair stylist? Go to Hair school and graduate. Get your certification. Build up a solid clientele. Starting out you can work in someone’s shop. Later consider purchasing a building and renting chairs and booth space to other professionals. Maybe the building you buy is large enough to lease retail space or even office space to other businesses.
Is event planning in your future? Plan, prepare and coordinate events like the half-time show for the Super Bowl, the Democratic National Convention or the Republican National Convention. On a smaller scale you could plan weddings, dinners and local special events.
How do you get started? Volunteer to help work on the homecoming committee at your school. Volunteer to work for the Circle City Classic committee, volunteer for Anderson’s annual Midnight Parade. All of these projects become part of your resume and you'll have references for jobs that will someday pay you good money. You've provided free labor, but gained so much valuable knowledge. On the job experience allows you to learn from professionals both the good and bad of how to put on events. Book knowledge is necessary, but real life experience is always a plus on your resume.
You’ve heard the phrase “Knowledge is Power.” Let’s turn that around a bit and examine the “Power of Knowledge.” When a baby cries and his mother or father picks the baby up and shows love, the baby learns something. If I cry my parents will come see about me. So when a baby is hungry it cries. When a baby is wet and needs a diaper change it cries. When a baby is in pain it cries. The baby’s cry is one of the most powerful tools of communication.
In 2007 Ohio State point guard Mike Conley Jr. was selected in the 1st round of the NBA draft. Years ago the NBA and the NBA Player Union agreed to a salary cap that structures the salaries for NBA rookies who are drafted. The salaries are on a sliding scale which means the number one pick in the 1st round receives the highest salary and each pick after that receives less money according to the scale. The same goes for players selected in the 2nd round of the draft. Most professional athletes have an agent who represents them during negotiations. The average salary for a sports agent is 3 to 5% of the contract that they negotiate. According to a company called Become A Sports Agent dot com the following are the average salaries for athletes and their agents.
Sports League
Athlete Salary
Agent Salary
I don’t know Mike Conley Sr. and I’ve never had a conversation with him. However, I am a father who believes in helping my children make wise decisions. While his son was in middle school Mr. Conley started studying the sports representative business and prepared to someday become a registered sports agent with the NBA. Mr. Conley knew someone would be needed to negotiate future endorsement opportunities, financial planning, personal appearances and work on his son’s behalf in many other areas. Mr. Conley started his own company MMG Sports Agency and formed a partnership with a larger agency BDA Sports. Now he has at least 4 clients including his son Mike Jr., Greg Oden and Daequan Cook. Mr. Conley discovered that he could do what any other sports agent could do. By having the foresight to become a sports agent, Mike Conley Sr. was able to keep by my estimation nearly a half-million dollars in the family. That, my friend, is an example of the very profitable power of knowledge.
Finally, young people, I hope you give serious consideration to paying the price of excellence. The decision you make will turn your life in a certain direction. It will determine the type of person you marry, where you live and where your children attend school. A bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, a doctorate degree, a skilled trade or profession are all tools for survival. Are you ready to pay the price? If you are, it’s time to strap up and get to work.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Specialization In Sports

Dearly Beloved, We’re gathered here in the sight of God and the presence of these witnesses, to join 15 year old Jackson Blue and the “Oh So Fine” Julie Basketball in holy matrimony. Jackson owns a sweet jump shot and moves to die for. He’s played with Julie’s cousin AAU Basketball since he was 7 years old. Currently ranked by in the top 10 of Indiana’s class of 2012, Jackson has been fascinated by the Basketball family most of his life.
In the old testament of the Christian Bible, marriages are arranged between families. That’s what’s happening in this case. Mr. Jordan Blue sees his son’s talent at a young age and speaks with Mr. Brown Basketball about forming an alliance.
Folks in the state of Indiana have much love for the game. Basketball is a royal family that claims Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Glenn Robinson and Brad Miller as members. In the last few years, Indiana has pumped out NBA young guns, Eric Gordon, Greg Oden, Courtney Lee, George Hill, Rodney Carney, Zack Randolph and Mike Conley Jr. Hoping to help their sons be all that they can be in the sport, a number of parents allow their kids to focus all of their athletic energy on basketball. This, despite research which shows playing only one sport year round and training for one sport year round can have negative results. Some experts claim specializing in one sport at a young age can give athletes certain advantages over their peers. However, other researchers believe kids who specialize early run a higher risk of burnout and physical stress due to over using certain muscles and movements.
Basketball is a way of life for many Hoosiers. Everyone knows some of the best athletes in every school from grades 9 to 12 only play one sport, basketball. There are a number of high school basketball coaches who openly discourage their players from playing other sports. My friend Noah was a great athlete who played football 3 sports every year from elementary school through middle school. When Noah tried out for the freshman football team he was cut because of the basketball coach. Everyone knows most high schools are happy to have 100 players suit on Friday nights. Cutting football players is rarely done. Two years later another basketball player named Ron tries out for our high school football team. This guy is unstoppable at Free Safety and Linebacker. Ron is 6’2” tall, weighs 215 pounds, hits like a Mack truck and is fast as lightening. Our coach refuses to play him in games. Why? Because the head basketball coach informs the football coach that if Ron gets hurt he’ll make sure the football coach loses his job.
Today, I hear parents complain about basketball coaches who pressure kids into feeling if they play other sports they could lose their value to the basketball team. Consequently, I see kids who are actually afraid of playing football and baseball or running track because the basketball coach frowns upon such behavior. Now I’m seeing middle school athletes make the same decisions to specialize in basketball.

The preacher says, “Jackson Blue, Do you take this woman to be your wife, to live together in holy matrimony? To love, honor, and cherish her, To keep her in sickness and in health, For as long as you both shall live?" Jackson responds, "I do."
The preacher says, “Repeat after me.” Jackson follows directions and says, “I Jackson Blue, take you Julie Basketball, to be my wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part."
Sadly, many players will end up like Jackson Blue and never get to kiss their basketball bride. Jackson practices long hours to improve his jump shot. His ball handling skills are superb and he can drive to the bucket and finish like Chris Paul. But, and in every relationship there’s always a butt. Jackson is a 5’11” tall point guard who loves to shoot. Julie Basketball has a crush on 6’2” point guards who like to pass first. After a promising junior season Jackson is relegated to the bench as a senior. He’s having trouble with the coach’s mandate to run the triangle offense. By this time everyone in the Blue family is upset. They have big dreams of their boy matriculating to a school in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Three ACC schools showed strong interest in Jackson last year. Now recruiters wonder what’s wrong. Jackson sitting on the bench sends negative vibes that are hard to overcome. Eventually, no Division 1 school is willing to offer Jackson an athletic scholarship. His dream of playing games that are televised on ESPN is crashing like a “Big Bass Monster.”
The Blue family wonders where they went wrong. They think they’ve followed the formula for success. Jackson plays on all the right AAU teams. He played well enough to be ranked in Rivals top 100 players in the nation as a sophomore. He shows Julie Basketball nothing but love through practice and hard work most of his life. Why does she walk this kid down the aisle then crush his dream just before reaching the altar?
Too many young athletes each year end up like Jackson Blue. Some pick up their pride and move on to play college basketball at non division one schools. When you truly love playing the game, there’s certainly no shame in that. However, parents must stop allowing high school coaches to dictate what is best for their children. Savvy Stock Brokers on Wall Street would never be so negligent as to invest all of their client’s money into one type of stock. Given the risks involved in sports specialization, why do so many parents toss all of their children’s athletic eggs into one basket?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mama's Little Boy

Johnny is 8 years old and quite handsome. Mama’s friends say, “Girl that boy is so fine he’s going to break a lot of girls hearts someday!” Mama replies, “I know he is.” What Mama doesn’t understand is that this boy will someday break her heart as well. You see, Mama wants the best for Johnny. So she buys him the $120 pair of Jordan sneakers and Kangol hats. Nothing but top shelf for her little boy. At home while Mama cleans the house, washes clothes and cooks for Johnny, Johnny is free to play video games or go outside with his friends. On garbage day Mama takes the garbage out to the curb while Johnny sits in the car waiting for her to drive him to school. When it’s time to mow the lawn, Johnny is playing ball with the neighborhood kids. Mama mows a mean lawn. Hers is the best looking yard in the neighborhood.

In school Johnny is a good student earning A’s, B’s and C’s. He’s also a pretty good athlete. Basketball is his sport of choice. Someday he hopes to make the powder cloud before every NBA game just like LeBron James. Johnny’s in 8th grade now and Mama needs his help with the house chores. She asks her son to please help with the dishes. It sure would be nice if he would mow that big pretty lawn. Maybe, he could just take out the garbage. That would be a good place to start. This year he discovered girls in a special way. Honor roll is no longer a priority for Johnny. He’s too busy trying to move from 3rd base with your pretty little girl. Yes, you daughter. The nice girl in the 8th grade honors class who thinks Johnny is as fine as Ginuwine.

We all know Johnny. He’s the dashing young man dating our teenager daughters. He’s the 3rd year college stud who tells our bright college girl that he’s just the right man to make her a woman. Johnny is the man whom our baby girl with a master’s degree in engineering wants to marry. Despite his flaws, Johnny has a lot of potential. He always lands a good job, but can never hold onto it. Johnny almost graduated from Big State University, but he came up 28 credit hours short. Baby Girl has faith in her man. She’s convinced if she sticks by him, he’ll turn it all around and be the man that he says he wants to be someday. They’ll live happily every after.

Mama is sad. She’s bought Johnny 3 cars, paid for two abortions and spent half of her savings supporting his bad habits. Now, Mama is tired. She won’t admit it to anyone, but she knows Johnny is weak. He’s no good for Baby Girl. In fact, Johnny is no good for Mama, but she loves her boy. The wedding plans are set. Soon it’ll be official. Baby Girl will be Johnny’s wife. Weddings are supposed to be a celebration of the union of between a man and a woman. But Mama knows better. Mama knows Johnny is not a man. He’s a boy who expects his Mama to take care of him. Soon Johnny’s new Mama will be Baby Girl. She’ll nurture, protect and support his failures time and time again. Someday they’ll have a son and she’ll raise him the same way that she’s raising her husband. You know who Johnny Jr. is. He’s the really handsome kid who’s dating your niece. He says yes sir and yes maam. He’s a lot of fun to talk to but you know this kid is no good. In order to save our families from boys like Johnny, we must raise Johnny to be a man. Johnny can’t learn how to be a man from a woman. Johnny has to learn how to be a man from a man. Men in every community must stop forcing mothers to raise Johnny alone. It’s time for Johnny’s father to be a man and teach a man. Mama’s little boy is played out.