One day I was chopping it up with an elder Black man I’ve known for a long time. This is one of those old heads that will be in a barbershop, small bookstore, or the stoop dispensing advice about life. This is one those cats who has lived an interesting life. The only thing is that although he has been married he never had any children. Now this dude lived alone. All of his relatives lived in another state. He said something that day that I found very chilling. He said that if he died it would be a week before anyone noticed. Wow was all I could say.
Across the country there are many older men in general and many Black men in particular who are living by themselves. That’s even if they have a place to stay. They are a great many Black men who are homeless. Indeed there have been reports that as many as 1.5 million Black men are simply missing. They are uncounted for. This situation is unacceptable.
This culture has placed so much emphasis on the plight of women and children at the expense of men sometimes. It’s easier for women and children to find shelter. When a couple divorces often the man has to foot the bill. Even beyond financial considerations many men are separated from their children. There is also a situation where many simply don’t marry and are living in insolation. Despite any fronts they may put on many are suffering from loneliness. This is a tragedy that actually hurts the entire community.
These men have gone through life and learned many lessons. I’ve stated publicly on several occasions that I learned the relationship game from women. It was from elder Black men that I learned the game of life. Different elders over the years would talk to me and help steer me in the proper directions. Their wisdom help mold me into the man I am today. I see something different now.
These men, who have so much to offer are being ignored. No one is seeking out their wisdom. Their own children are disrespecting them. Many of these men simply work and then go home taking years of accumulated knowledge with them. Then unfortunately many die without having transmitted that knowledge to a younger generation who are rudderless in a sea of chaos. This has to change.
For every Black man that reads this article I have a request. I ask that you check on any elder Black man in your circles who lives alone. It doesn’t have to be every day. Go visit them on a weekly basis if they will allow it. Send them a message on social media from time to time. Text them regularly. Don’t just check on them but listen to their stories. Elders learned things the hard way and they like sharing their experiences so others don’t make the same mistakes. Don’t let their lives be in vain. I’ll end this with a story.
Back in the day I lived in this upscale apartment building. In the evening I would always go down the lobby area where there were several couches and chairs. There would be several elders both Black and white gathered just talking about any and everything. I would just sit and listen to these men as I learned the mistakes they had made and the great things they have accomplished. It was better than any school or even spiritual institution. It also gave these men purpose to know that someone was listening to them.
Check on those elders.