BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
Dr. Richard Allen Williams that I've decided to add a permanent feature to my column. I've decided to call it "A Tribute to Excellence" and use it as a platform to highlight both the character and accomplishments of those who bring excellence to our community.
While reading the responses to the article on Dr. Williams, it occurred to me that when we look at the myriad of problems that we have in the Black community, we generally attribute them to joblessness, crime, and a poor educational system. While all of those issues undoubtedly contribute to the dysfunction within the community, they are merely symptoms. The actual source of these and many other problems go directly to the image that we've allowed our young people to embrace regarding what we represent as a people.
An excellent example of that is Tyler Perry's "Madea." While all of us in the community know, love, and appreciate characters like Madea, our community has much more to offer the world than what's reflected in Madea's character - in fact, Tyler Perry himself is representative of the wealth of creative excellence that resides within our community. But unfortunately, that's rarely reflected in the media.
If extraterrestrials are monitoring our media transmissions from outer space, they probably think that all Black people are either athletes, criminals, or clowns. We've got to change that image, because unfortunately, extraterrestrials are not the only ones monitoring those transmissions, so are our children, and in many cases they don't have positive examples of Black manhood, or accomplished Black females to offset those negative images in their home. Their mothers are often good people, but they're generally struggling just to make ends meet.
Many of these young people who come from single-parent homes have no idea what it really means to be a man, or, how a man should relate to a woman and a family. They get their definition of manhood from either the street, or the media - BET, and the like. For many, their idea of manhood is the willingness to blow a person's brains out for the most inadvertent slight, or treat their woman with disrespect and disdain. They know absolutely nothing of the nurturing side of manhood that's necessary to raise and comfort a little girl, or the tough-minded character and determination necessary to overcome life's adversities with dignity, perseverance, and resolve.
So once a month I intend to feature a man or woman who has demonstrated excellence in achievement, character, or selflessness within the community, and I hope other Black writers, producers, and people in the media will follow suit, because the time has long since past when we should have been flooding our community with these images of Black excellence.
Please feel free to suggest people who you think should be featured in this series to the email address below.
Eric L. Wattree
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