Rediscovering Leadership Development Strategies For Fatherless African American Boys is a biblical, historical and cultural study of fatherlessness in the African American community. Before credible solutions for reducing fatherlessness can be offered to the African American community it is important to explore the many factors that contributed to the demise of the spirit and legacy of African American men. A common assumption among African Americans is that slavery is to blame for the plight of African Americans. And many frustrated adult White males blame the plight of the African American male on laziness, negative community influences and an abundance of babies born out of wedlock. Both groups are right. Both groups are wrong. Whereas both groups hold an element of the truth, the bigger picture is much grimmer.
I used biblical references in order to establish fatherlessness as an ancient and spiritual issue. I drew on American and African American history as well as sociology to explain how African American fatherlessness is largely due to systemic racism and classism. History shows that although slavery, Jim Crow legislation, segregation, real estate redlining and employment discrimination hurt the African American spirit, the African American family was just as intact (as defined in terms of having both a mother and father in the home) as the White family. In some instances, as in the early 1960s, African American families were actually more intact. The crippling blow that sent ripples throughout African America inner-city communities was actually a deadly combination of White flight, loss of manufacturing companies in major cities, welfare incentives that provided financial rewards for single parenthood, war on drugs legislation and truth in sentencing rulings that sent
hundreds of thousands of African American men to prison without any option for drug treatment and rehabilitation. The result was an African American man who was fully emasculated during a time when it looked as if he was about to become free and integrated. This “perfect storm” of environmental and political realities not only robbed families of strong African American fathers; it robbed black communities of mentors, uncles, coaches, and role models.
My argument is that a dual-generational approach to male empowerment must be undertaken. The focus of the church, for example, should not only include young males but adult men who grew up without fathers as well. The loss of meaningful relationships can only be overcome by the presence of healthy and meaningful relationships. Healthier men
will help to raise the bar for young boys. The Church has a wonderful opportunity to be relevant and redemptive by providing healing for the African American masculine soul. Mentoring, healing, restoration, and forgiveness are the business of the Church. The efficacy of the Church will be measured in how it conducts its business and not merely the size of congregations. Malachi 4:5 states that when the Messiah comes, he will restore family relationships as a mechanism for ushering in God’s new kingdom that is rooted in relationships rather than rules.