So, how do we bring healing and moral revitalization to our communities? DR. COSBY and DR. POUSSAINT recommend that we “give Fatherhood a second chance”. They note that many men have complained that the Mothers of their children “shut them out”. If a father is not physically abusive or under a legal restraining order, they recommend that the father be allowed to play a role in raising children and take the view that a father’s state of unemployment or underemployment should not be used as a reason to bar him from playing “an important role in the household”.
On page 22 of Come On People: On The Path From Victims To Victors, DR. COSBY and DR. POUSSAINT connect the dots between a Father’s ability to play “an important role in the household” to the strengthening of a child’s development and the creation of a home environment that is less stressful:
“ . . . If fathers take on more child-care and household responsibilities, it lessens the burden on the mother. By participating in the life of the family, men can help relieve the stress that is frequently found in low-income households, as well as strengthen their children’s development.
“Children who spend time with their fathers will develop closer family connections and will benefit from the individual attention as they share in day-to-day activities. There are committed Fathers out there. . . . Dream dreams for your children. They don’t need to become international superstars, but they do need you to lift them up so they can succeed in life.”
DR. COSBY and DR. POUSSAINT also point out that many programs have been developed which meet the special needs of Fathers in the form of Fatherhood training programs. They recommend the creation and funding of programs that will provide men with counseling, education, and job training skills; the creation of more constructive programs for men who have been incarcerated; and policy changes and a criminal justice system that will support the development and maintenance of constructive programs for ex-offenders. These programs represent some of the key “pieces of the puzzle” to placing Fathers in a position where they can begin to move their families forward and “overcome some very real hurdles” which include “child support difficulties, incarceration, lack of education, and unemployment”.
What do you do if these programs do not exist but are needed in your community? DR. COSBY and DR. POUSSAINT strongly recommend that you contact a social service agency, church, or health clinic and “urge them to set up such a program”.
And to the men in communities throughout the United States, who believe or have been made to feel that they have nothing to contribute to their children’s intellectual, emotional, and physical development, DR. COSBY and DR. POUSSAINT have this to say:
“No matter how useless or hopeless a father may think he is, his role is simply to be there. If he makes that commitment, he is a much better man than he thought he was.”
Once upon a time our communities were our sanctuaries. Sadly, today, the opposite is true for many communities throughout the United States. How do we transform neighborhoods throughout the United States which are on the verge of decay into economically vibrant and peaceful communities?
We can begin moving in the direction of transforming decaying neighborhoods into economically vibrant and peaceful communities by exercising our political muscle. DR. COSBY and DR. POUSSAINT urge us to “speak up” and “speak out” at the ballot box and suggest that we make sure that our friends and family members who may never have voted, go to the polls and cast their ballots. We must study the political candidates who are running for office in order to determine if they will act in the best interests of our communities. If the school systems in our communities are dysfunctional, and the moral fiber of our communities are being unraveled by individuals then, we must “respond by taking the appropriate action”.
In Come On People: On The Path From Victims To Victors, on page 51, DR. COSBY and DR. POUSSAINT have the following things to say about “speaking up and speaking out” and “taking the appropriate action”:
“If lower economic people would begin to behave the way middle and upper middle economic people behave when things are going on in their neighborhood, on their turf, the ‘annoyance’ factor would begin to at least move the ball in the right direction. The laws should not be enforced differently for certain people or certain neighborhoods. The law should be the law wherever you live and be enforced accordingly.
“ . . . We have to begin by taking back our neighborhoods. We have to be involved. The people who need our help are right here, right now, standing on that corner. We need a revolution in our minds, and in our neighborhoods. We have lost many of the kinship bonds that historically held us together as a community. The spirit of caring and self-help that sustained us for centuries is now largely a cultural memory. We had high moral standards as a community, and even if we didn’t always meet them, we were moving forward and succeeding.”
DR. COSBY and DR. POUSSAINT urge us to support local businesses in our communities. Supporting local businesses is the first step in the right direction to economically revitalize our communities and motivate our youth to excel in school. The authors offer the following wise counsel on page 236:
“One way to help create jobs in Black communities is by encouraging the development of local businesses and supporting them once they’re established. Local businesses are convenient for neighborhood employees and also give young people a bird’s-eye view of jobs that can be had. If these businesses establish partnerships with local schools, each institution serves to benefit. And Black youths will be more motivated to learn when education has a direct reward in the workplace. What seems like a dead-end job ‘flipping burgers’ may become a stepping stone to store manager or someday owning the establishment . . .”
In Come On People: The Path From Victims To Victors, DR. COSBY and DR. POUSSAINT provide examples of individuals and organizations throughout the United States that are quietly working to bring healing to our communities – one child at a time, one street at a time, and one neighborhood at a time. The authors of Come On People: The Path From Victims To Victors see the proverbial glass as being “half full” and not “half empty”. Rebuilding our neighborhoods, positively shaping the minds and souls of our children, and creating economically vibrant and violence-free communities will not be easy. But the good news is that DR. COSBY and DR. POUSSAINT have provided us with a blueprint that we can use to get the job done.
Come On People: The Path From Victims To Victors is recommended reading for parents, educators, school administrators, law enforcement professionals, business and religious leaders, social entrepreneurs, community activists, legislators, health care professionals and providers, social services professionals and providers, Fatherhood Practitioners, Fatherhood and Men’s Issues advocates, and legal professionals.
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