December 30, 2004

Seven guiding principles of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is an African American celebration with focus on the "traditional African values" of family, community responsibility, commerce, and self-improvement. It is based on the Nguzo Saba (seven guiding principles), one for each day of the observance, and is celebrated from December 26th to January 1st.

While I'm not sure which of the many micro-cultures on the African continent are responsible for this list, for me it's a viable cultural template that invites men and women into roles of responsibility for the care and survival of their community.

Would a boy raised in a culture with these values have to wander aimlessly in search of his manhood? An adult man? An Elder male? I don't think so.

Umoja (oo-MO-jah) Unity stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, "I am We," or "I am because We are."

Kujichagulia (koo-gee-cha-goo-LEE-yah) Self-Determination requires that we define our common interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community.

Ujima (oo-GEE-mah) Collective Work and Responsibility reminds us of our obligation to the past, present and future, and that we have a role to play in the community, society, and world.

Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah) Cooperative economics emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support.

Nia (NEE-yah) Purpose encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community.

Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) Creativity makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community.

Imani (ee-MAH-nee) Faith focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.

December 18, 2004

The Emotional Miseducation of Boys

This is a great article: from the Monitor with content from a number of leading edge authors on the topic of the devestating no-win position that's killing our boys... or at least guaranteeing them an uphill battle for the survival of their self-esteem. The article describes just some of the ways, "our culture emotionally cripples boys." Among their findings:

Schools are 'antiboy.' Elementary schools emphasize reading and restrict the activity of young boys, who are generally more active and slower to read than girls. Teachers often discipline boys more harshly than girls. Sensitivity isn't modeled to boys, so they don't learn it.

Fathers tend to demand that their sons act tough, mothers tend to expect boys to be strong and protective and their friends enforce the rule that a boy doesn't cry. And after being taught not to be 'sissies,' boys are then chastised for being insensitive.

Boys hear confusing messages, for example, to embrace an androgynous sex role and yet not become too feminine. At the same time, many boys lose the 'chums' of their boyhood as they enter adolescence. For many teen-age males, distrust of other boys replaces intimate same-sex friendships, recent research suggests."

There is much more in the article, but mostly I get angry and sad when reading through it. But then that's why I'm working on my book! EH

December 9, 2004


The Journey to Manhood: "To knowledgeably and consistently transform all of our boys into positive and successful young men, we will have to reorganize our communities, form action groups, and begin the education and training of many people. Political priorities will have to be rearranged, funding acquired, and institutions changed. Changing the system in all these ways will take time, maybe a very long time.

That's why I'm writing a book that calls the men to take action today. The boys need them now. "

December 3, 2004

The Journey to Manhood - How it all began.

The Journey to Manhood: Why This Book?
Ojulu Agote is a Sudanese refugee whose family my wife and I mentor. When I first asked him how I might help him, Ojulu immediately responded, "I want you to teach my son how to be a man in your country." This man was without any real material resources and faced a mountain of practical needs that come with settling in a new culture. Yet at the top of his list was to get help guiding his son toward manhood.

I don't remember my exact reply, but I do remember being embarrassed, and feeling inadequate and unsure about how to help him with his request. In my ongoing research, I've learned that I'm not alone. It appears that as a culture not only have we forgotten how to guide our boys into manhood, but that many of the adult men, like me, feel a little lost on the journey. Sadly, boys, men, and our communities are paying dearly for our forgetting. That's why I'm writing this book and why I've started this blog.

It is my intention that this blog will become a collection of ideas, listing of resources, posted questions for men, shared experience, and anything else that will help boys, men, and male elders to successfully travel on their journey to manhood.

Read more at: The Journey To Manhood website.