Jimmy is 25 year old. Born and bred in the Jacksonville area of Florida USA. Jimmy is full of life and is dearly loved among family, friends and all. At the early age of nine, mom and dad had parted ways. And Jimmy, left in the care of mom, is to go through all the motions and conflicts known among young black men of our day. “I was definitely angry” Indicates this young man. “In my case, I bottled up that anger and put up a good face so no one would know that I was in pain. Day after day!”
“I gave myself to sports, just to let out. I channeled all that anger and frustration into sports so much so that I was damn good at it. I used to be so angry about myself and my life and so determined not to let that anger control or hold me down. Whenever I felt angry, sad or frustrated, I would run out and play sports. And honestly (not to boast about) because of the way I channeled my anger and emotion into it, and how effective I was at it, I became the Captain of my school team.
Those folk won’t even believe me if they knew one tenth of what was going on in my life and mind all those days”. Today, Jimmy is a journalist, a handsome young reporter with a local radio station.
Andre, 25: Also raised by a single mom, is in college studying communication art. When he is not in school, he is at work. A supervisor with UPS. Andre is, as he personally puts it: “a proud seed of Mr. Jeffrey”. I honestly cannot tell how many 25 year old young men would be so genuine and authentic the way they talk, the way they comport themselves, and the way they address the issues of life surrounding their upbringing and young adult lives of today.
In reminiscing his teenage and preteen years, I could not but note the profoundness of this young man’s voice and thinking: “What a nightmare it was and is” He says. “For a young woman as mom to be stuck with the care of two boys?” “What does a woman know about teenage boys? It is unimaginable”, says Andre, “what comes out to happen, when a woman is forced by circumstance, to raise two full-fledged boys by herself”.
“By all measures”, agreed Jimmy and Andre (as though they rehearsed it together) “It is the place of a man”. Who can controvert the adolescent but profound wisdom of these young Champs? I dare to address them as Champs because they have grown to become earnest pacesetters among their peers. And for us parents, torn or wholesome, we have before us, two doves of valor and peace.
Click on the link below for the finest story ever told: Of one young man and two. Growing up in a single parent home passed through fires of times and perilous days. They refused to burn their fingers or tarnish the little image they knew they never had.
Having been made by society to see themselves through the eyes of guilt, pain, anger and apprehension, life is generally not a good story. Like most young black male kids in our towns and neighborhoods today, Jimmy Marlow and Andre Valentine are familiar with self-made defense mechanisms that most times don’t work to your credit.
Like eagles from a distant planet, however, these kids found a different route in the very clouds that drown many. In place of negative choices, these fed their bewildered minds with positive ideals and sensitivities which only Heaven could bestow. They taught themselves real life lessons:
Stick with School…
Look up… Shake hands… Right hands Smile!
They risked being called names, did what most other kids would call mundane, and turned out magnificent young men.
Jimmy remembers as though it was yesterday. “My best friend, Richard sounded out to me” He says. “After the sad event of his dad’s death: “Go, look for your dad. Your dad is still alive. You are my friend. I cannot live to see you end up with the same feelings that I am going through right now”. That changed the whole thing. Richard is in fact my third hero in this story. He made a man. A hero out of one lost insignificant kid. What a friend! A kinsman. A voice of change.
These two stepped out from the crowd. Never looking back. And they are the better. In every way! In Jimmy Marlow’s words; “I sought and found my father. Today, I am so close with my Dad I would not let go of him”. The question of blame and responsibility: how they viewed dad, mom and those around them during those dark days:
“I knew I was angry”. Insists Jimmy. “But like I said, I directed my anger into sports. I did not give room to negative feeling about who did what. For my dad, I just knew he wasn’t there. Why was he not there? Never dwelt on knowing or entertaining those thoughts. I figured: He’s a different personality from me. Things must have been overwhelming for him too. He probably didn’t know what to do with the things he faced himself.”
Now, what about the thousands of young men around us who are not yet as fortunate and happy as Jimmy and Andre. Ones with no strength and no knowledge of what to do. And ones who simply wouldn’t want to try anymore for fear that “all men are liars.” What a time to reverse that ugly trend!