The war on boys in this world is sad and terrifying.
One boy is dead, two others are scarred for life because of an incident last weekend in Clinton. Young men of color go to jail at an embarrassingly high rate in the U.S. for a (supposed) industrialized nation. A black man was tazed by a law officer the other day because the “suspect” was sitting on a curb. He might have deserved it - when an officer tells you “stand up off that curb” you had better do it. Boys are by far the most damaged segment of the population from the concussionepidemic - fueled by America’s football lust.
Black unemployment is at its lowest point in decades, and I presume young men are caught up in that “wave of prosperity”. I suspect, however, this segment of our working population is occupying jobs of lower than average wages. Yes, any job is better than none, but national statistics show at the current average “minimum” wage, people in cities can’t afford to live in even the most modest apartment. This comes at a time when affordable, sometimes-government-supported housing is on the wane - a victim of not-in-my-backyard.
If boys explore their artistic side, they are sissies. If they explore their macho side, they are chauvinists, caught up in the #metoo generation. Boys are still more likely to be sent to the principal’s office; then an officer gets involved and they say the wrong thing, act the wrong way, and they are off to the pipeline. If young men go to war, they are mostly likely on the front lines, while “back line” jobs are handled by women. In the Mideast, both genders are likely to have their arms and legs blown off. The evil specter of opioids and suicide is stalking young men every day, at a younger and younger rate. The “drug” that can help ease some of this pain is still illegal - even as legal, prescription drugs are ever more addictive.
Predators and sex traffickers, we think, look for every opportunity to victimize our girls. Meanwhile, our boys are left unguarded. If they express their anger, they get the belt. If they express that they are gay, they’re likely candidates for “re-programming.”
They are less likely to read for pleasure. They are less likely to have their feelings taken into account. They are less likely to know what are the changing social norms. Yes, they can be mean, but not in the same way as the famous “mean girls.” They retreat into video games, they become de-sensitized to violence.
They can walk into a shop in most cities’ downtowns and buy a gun. They believe the first thing they read about who’s to blame for their sad position in life. They are more likely to turn that gun on others, or themselves.
Many break out. Many become scientists and astronauts, painters and authors; many create wonderful movies and soaring music. Many reach the depths of hell, and help others on their way out of the pit.
They are our boys.
A most precious commodity.
They used to be explorers, orators, world-changers, and scouts. Now, they can barely escape for a “fortnite”. They are us; and if we can’t help them reach their full potential, we will lose another, entire generation.
Vic MacDonald is Editor of The Clinton Chronicle. His son lives and works in Boone, North Carolina. Reach Vic at 833-1900 firstname.lastname@example.org