African-American males offered help

Published 11:34 pm Friday, February 26, 2010

The family structure will help heal the African-American male.

“Because the African-American family structure has broken down, we have some African-American men who have been disconnected,” said Chester Marshall, author of “Black Man Heal” and founder of the Institute for African Man Development, Inc.

Marshall formed the company eight years ago as a way to combat the lack of information of the manners that can help African-American men improve themselves.

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He referred to these disconnected citizens as “urban terrorists” because they are the statistical amount of African-American men who have lost touch with the importance of family, respect and what it means to be a man. “And that one out of four define the other three,” Marshall said.

The Ward 4 Black History celebration, Part II: Black Man Heal symposium on Friday focused on the financial, spiritual and physical healing of African American men and boys. Marshall also signed copies of his book at the Friday evening event with music from The Cool Jazz Café.

“We’re taking a holistic approach,” said Ward 4 Councilwoman Angela Benjamin. Holistic healing creates a more balanced lifestyle that is not focused on physical health. It seeks healing through a healthy mind, body and spirit.

Financially, African-American men need to focus on finding more than just a job, but creating businesses and owning land and a home that will outlast their lives. “No matter how good your job may be, your son or your daughter will never inherit your job, but if you own real estate, they’ll inherit your real estate,” said Rev. Gary Crum of The Empowerment Zone. “If you own a business, they’ll inherit your business. Own something and leave a lasting legacy behind.”

Spiritually, the attention of African American men should be turned to God for guidance. “We are spirit beings,” said Pastor Effell Williams of Tabernacle of Praise Church. “We are a spirit housed in a body.” He encouraged people to set good examples for their sons. “If we lose our sons, it will not be God’s fault, it’s our fault,” Williams said. “Every community is known by the shape of its men.”

Physically, African Americans need to become informed of HIV and AIDS because it is a heath issue of the community. “We must attack it by talking about it,” said Cedric Wherry of Selma AIR. “No one truly knows the truth other than we’re not doing what we need to do.” HIV and AIDS is the leading cause of death for African American women ages 25 to 34, according to Wherry.

“It’s all about finding a solution,” Marshall said. “If we’re going to be helpful we have to recognize that. Things are not all well with African-American men, but things are not all bad either.”