For many people who do business of one sort another, frequent travel across this great nation may be routine. Recently, I made the cross country trek from Boston, Massachusetts to Sacramento, California. Though of late I have been traveling frequently, I don’t often make the trek from coast to coast and sea to shining sea. On this trip I paused from my pile of papers and emails to pause to take in the breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon and Rocky Mountains. The majesty of the view from 30, 000 feet was awesome. To see miles and miles of snowcapped mountains with winding snakelike rivers meandering through this unique landscape was a sight to see.
As I watched as if in a trance, I thought about the total beauty and other physical natural resources that make America, the Beautiful. Whether it’s the Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone Park, the Mississippi River, Great Lakes or Carlsbad Caverns, America appreciates values and reveres its natural resources. Tough legislation and battles over conservation rights have guaranteed protection from destruction and abuse of these and other landmarks. Wide expanses of land are declared National Parks with all the rights of protected status that go with that designation. And the nation’s wonders of nature continue to make an indelible impression on all who view them.
After a long period of reflection, I drew a deep breath and silently formed a new thought. How are we protecting another natural resource, our boys and young men of color? How are protecting this group from societal neglect, media castigation, lowered expectations, threats posed by violence, miseducation and social and emotional trauma?
It is clear to me that when America puts its mind to resolving and solving confounding problems and dilemmas, there is no equal. My plea is that the nation lends the full weight of commitment to the safety, support and appreciation of boys and young men of color. Thirty years ago construction of the Tellico Dam on the Tennessee River was brought to a temporary halt to protect a two inch fish called the snail darter. The advocacy was strong and intense. In the same way, our boys and young men of color deserve the same level of advocacy. In the case of the snail darter fish, the conservationist argued that an endangered species was having its natural habitat violated. I would suggest that boys and young men of color on a daily basis have their environment stressfully interrupted. And I would argue that America is endanger of losing an important and potential filled natural resource, our boys and young men of color. They are a natural resource worthy of a natural safety net. When we protect this group with integrity and fidelity, we will become true to the promise of democracy and equity for all. Boys and young men of color are natural resources too.