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According to the recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, black males die at a rate fifteen times higher than that of white males because of homicidal violence. The Department estimates that 28 percent of black males will enter state or federal prisons during their lifetime. In response to these devastating statistics, psychologist, educator, and father Raymond Winbush has created The Warrior Method — a program designed for parents and teachers to help black boys become strong, self-reliant men. ...
According to the recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, black males die at a rate fifteen times higher than that of white males because of homicidal violence. The Department estimates that 28 percent of black males will enter state or federal prisons during their lifetime. In response to these devastating statistics, psychologist, educator, and father Raymond Winbush has created The Warrior Method — a program designed for parents and teachers to help black boys become strong, self-reliant men. Filled with thoughtful reflections on the author's own experiences, the book looks at a male's life through the prism of the four seasons: spring — conception to four years old; summer — ages five through twelve; autumn — ages thirteen through twenty-one; and winter — age twenty-two and beyond.
Winbush's comprehensive, step-by-step approach draws on such African traditions as the "Birthing Circle" and a "Young Warriors Council" to help boys make important transitions, along with numerous other modern variations on tribal customs that instill the values of self-respect, dignity, and honor.
Prisons Without Walls
I had just finished a daylong speaking engagement at a prison in a very rural area of south-central Tennessee. It was almost dusk as I made my final comments to a group of incarcerated black men. I listened to their stories about how they'd found themselves in this lonely rural place where the "strange fruit" of their ancestors had hung on trees in the not-too-distant past. As I said my good-byes, I was pleased that we'd all come to realize how much we had in common as black men. In addition, I was thrilled that they had entrusted me with information, greetings, and letters to send to their families, parole boards, and friends in the "free world." I, in turn, took their addresses and promised to keep in touch. I then said my farewells and started on my journey home, up the very dark and meandering road away from the prison.
I got lost almost immediately. The inky blackness of the Tennessee woods, complete with kudzu-laden trees, gave eerie shapes to the thick undergrowth hovering over the two-lane highway in the middle of nowhere. I made a decision to stop at the first light I encountered, which came after driving nearly five miles. I pulled into a country gas station and noted how fast the bugs were flying around the lights illuminating the convenience store. As I got out of my car, I suddenly felt more connected to mybrothers whom I had just left. Inside the store I saw a white man with a red baseball hat, peering curiously through the window at me. I looked beyond him farther into the store and saw two white women sitting behind a counter. In that split second, it occurred to me that one of them was clutching an object beneath the well-worn table. I realized that the object was a gun and that I was dangerous in their eyes simply because I was a black man entering their store at night. To them I was out of context. It happens to black men when we drive into an all-white neighborhood, walk into a restaurant in an area where serving black men is both rare and unexpected, or simply when we try to get directions when lost.
I quickly "assumed the position," placing my hands where they could easily be seen on the glass door, and walked in. As I entered the store and casually asked the man for directions, I could feel the tension. His Tennessee drawl sketched a vague picture of where the interstate might be. While I listened, I suddenly realized that the only reason I had entered the store, after seeing their looks of fear, was to dispel the notion that I was intent on either robbing or killing them.
I thanked him for the directions, and then, without thinking, turned and asked the woman what she was holding behind the counter. I was surprised at my own words even as they left my mouth, knowing that my question could easily be interpreted as a way of sizing them up before I committed my crime. "A gun," she replied quite calmly. Stepping deeper into the racial abyss, I asked her if she thought I was going to rob her. In the same Tennessee monotone she answered, "Yes."
Her two companions moved closer to her behind the counter, and I recklessly continued. More from a race-fatigued haze than from bravado, I asked if she'd assumed, because I was black, that I was going to rob her. She paused a moment and, in a low voice, said, "To be honest, yes." They all looked at me, and for a split second, I could see plainly their embarrassment, anger, and bewilderment. I felt strangely empowered. Just a few moments earlier, I'd felt powerless and somehow at fault simply for being a black man. But as we all stood there looking at one another and barely breathing, I felt in control. I had reacted honestly when confronted by their discrimination and stereotypical images of black men. I took a breath and then asked if they could spare a few minutes to talk to me about what just happened, and what could have happened but thankfully hadn't. Surprisingly, they said they could.
Though I do not remember exactly the words exchanged during the next twenty minutes or so, what I do remember quite clearly is that all three talked extensively about how their impressions of black males had been formed by a witches' brew of stereotypes, television, folklore, hatred, and misunderstandings. They all had the same fears — due mostly to ignorance — of black-on-white crime and interracial sexual couplings. After we'd talked for a few minutes, they began to ask me questions that no one in their white world could answer with any degree of certainty or authenticity. They were curious to know my feelings about 0.J., Tupac, Colin, Louis, Michael, and many other black males. As we talked, they expressed deep-seated beliefs passed on from their parents and peers, fallacies such as the black man's sexual and athletic prowess, his wanton and overriding lust for white women, and the black woman's sexual promiscuity. Neighborhoods will deteriorate and schools will decline if blacks were allowed to "move in," they told me. It seemed as if all of the misinformation they had heard and repeated to one another was now ready to be shared with the one black man who happened to wander into their store that night.
I listened closely to all that they said, and I realized that only a moment before these same people had been prepared to shoot me, and probably would not have gone to jail if they had. Their ignorance...The Warrior Method. Copyright © by Raymond Winbush. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
|A National Crisis?|
|Destructive Black Male Behavior|
|Constructive Black Male Behavior|
|The Poro and Sande Societies|
|My Own Story|
|1||The Image of Black Males in American Society||23|
|Prisons Without Walls|
|The Black Male as Sexual Predator|
|Embracing the Image|
|The Consequences of Adaptation|
|2||How Black Boys Are Raised||41|
|The Warrior Method of Raising Black Boys|
|The Ten Commitments of the Warrior Method|
|3||Necessary Tools for African Warriors||63|
|The Four Cs|
|4||The Seasons of Our Sons: Spring, Conception to Four||102|
|Conception Through Four Years|
|Black Boys at Birth|
|Naming Our Children|
|Early Hurdles for Black Boys|
|5||The Seasons of Our Sons: Summer, Ages 5-12||112|
|Ages 5-12: Chad|
|Massaging the Numbers|
|Violence, Health, and Athletics|
|Mental Health and Black Boys|
|Young Warriors Councils|
|6||The Seasons of Our Sons: Autumn, Ages 13-21||147|
|The Notion of "Adolescence"|
|Rites of Passage|
|Black Rage Revisited|
|Black Adolescent Health|
|Autumn Warrior Councils|
|Black Men and Women|
|7||The Seasons of Our Sons: Winter, Ages 22 Through Homegoing||178|
|We Are the Men Our Ancestors Prayed For|
|What Can Black Men and Women Learn About Each Other?|
|Healthy Black Relationships: Beloved in Our Lives|
|8||A Summary of the Seasons||192|
|Parable of the White Elephant|
|Appendix A||Annotated Bibliography||209|
|Appendix B||Annotated Bibliography of Books for Black Children||217|