Do our boys matter? In a time when African American boys are being incarcerated and murdered at alarming rates one pastor has boldly proclaimed that it's time to Save Our Sons.
Imagine for a moment watching cable television about 12 or 13 years ago and seeing a pastor preach about how we pay more to foreigners to get our hair and nails than we do for tithes and offerings. That is how I was introduced to the ministry of Pastor Jamal H Bryant of Empowerment Temple. He captured my attention with his ability to display the fact that he's well educated and from a family of incredible leaders but also that he's not far removed from what's going on in our communities.
Nearly every Sunday morning I get up to watch the 7:30 Service on my iPhone. Yes, there's an app for that.
What has garnered my attention about the Save Our Sons series is that I'm a mother of two sons, who I know will face tremendous obstacles in life. I recall being pulled over when my son was a junior in high school. I was prepared to give my information, I was the driver. To our surprise the officer demanded my son's ID because he "fit the description".
In this series Pastor Jamal is dealing with some real issues that every parent, educator and members of the community can identify with. Over identifying for Special Education services, the School to Prison Pipeline, high rates of incarceration and the ratio of low African American males on college campuses but they make up the highest percents on the football and basketball teams.
This morning I did something that's rare for me but I found it to be necessary. I watched all three services. The first service was entitled He Gotta Count For Something from Psalm 23:1. Pastor Jamal gave us the four seasons of sheep. The second service was entitled The Game Done Changed from I Samuel 17:41-45. He discussed how David was able to stand his ground against his enemy and not only defeat him but kill him with the sword intended for his own demise.
Now that last sermon was one for the records. It was entitled It's Music To My Ears coming from Exodus 32:14-20. Pastor Jamal gave a back drop to the struggle of our ancestors and the music that was birthed from it. From slave ships to water hoses, our people gave us music of hope and determination. Yet now if you turn on the radio we hear young men calling each other n..... Women are referred to names not given by their parents.
He even played some of the music, It's Levels To This, and recited the lyrics which to some may have been horrific though without a doubt necessary. In our era of "keeping it real" Pastor Jamal suggests that we look in our mirrors and clean it up. He later stated "You know all the words to Holy Grail but can't recite the 23rd Psalm". How true.
I can add to this as an educator. Our boys know and play the latest video games. They recite the lyrics to every popular rap song. Ask some of them to solve for an unknown variable or write a two paragraph response to an article. You would be suprised and saddened at the various and/or lack of responses.
My prayer for Pastor Jamal's Save Our Sons series is that those who have heard it will purchase it and share it with boys across the country and have real discussions. We can't have any more of our men in the season 2 of the sheep. A rut.
Thanks Pastor Jamal H Bryant for being that empowering and informative voice.