Thursday, June 12, 2014

Who really wins in a Zero Sum Game?

The title by itself, sounds like a glowing accomplishment.  The speaker stood proudly in her proclamation as the crowd of mostly Latina women cheered her on.   As I challenged the speaker about the rate of graduation she was touting- she avoided the backdrop.  I sought to identify who 'latinas' were being compared against in her factoid.  

 Finally she confessed- relative to their male counterparts.   

"Latinas are outpacing Latino males in their educational pursuits and career development".

Not too glowing of figure in that context!  Where have we seen that in practice before?  The African-American community is set in a graduation rate and career rate of black women that towers over their male counterparts.  Relegated to a life in prison , premature death or perpetual unemployment- black males become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Henpecked and belittled- they live down to the standards expected (or not) of them. 

Given this cultural lesson, I was befuddled that the speaker would speak to a primarily latino audience of this lopsided statistic.   I can see if we were speaking of this milestone in relation to their white, black or other female counterparts- but it truly becomes a zero sum game when you are touting the rise of one part of the equation vs. the other.  Who really wins?  One wins at the expense of their male counterparts - in some households- perhaps their very own brothers- they win while others lose.  

The twisted logic stuck to me as I walked away...  Some power shift.  What power?  

~Lou Sandoval is an entrepreneur whose successful career transcends over 17 years of Fortune 100 experience parlayed into business ownership. Lou believes in giving back to his community and has been involved in the Boy Scouts of America's leadership. He serves on a few non-profit and professional boards. Opinions expressed here are solely personal and not a representation of any of the organizations with which he may be affiliated.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I'm so not ready...

A colleague sent me this You Tube video.   I have to say- I am NOT ready.  Are we ever? 

How it ends: DOIJ- It needs to be said.

How it ends: Dead or in jail. 

"This can't be happening to me.  There is so much left to live for.  I just took my little girl to Rain Forest Cafe- damn. Wait, wait!!  You were my friend.  WTF!  Dad! Mom!- really don't cry! "

We've all seen the movies- the deceased hovers above the scene of their death wondering why.  Asking, (scratch that) begging for a second chance. No one answers. 

As I saw the picture above online, I so wished I could take back my words.  I so wished I was wrong.  You see, I've always been the guy that calls it like it is.  I've been called the 'truth police' by some.   I don't believe in mincing words when it comes to calling it like it is.  Last June I did just that.  

When my nephew was shot five times and brought within an inch of his death- I'd seen this before.  It's a wake up call.  Some hit the snooze button on life and sleep through it, others- well they see it for what it is.  But to save insulting anyone- they dance around the issue.   Not me, I reached over and grabbed my relative by the shoulder - "you have one at risk*, one in the hospital on his deathbed and one you still have to worry about.  What are you going to do?  You know how this ends right? "  He looked up at me expressionless- "I know" he said.   

I later found out- I was made the pariah in the family for speaking my mind.  A role I've grown used to in life, I have the bruises to show.  The truth hurts- it burns sometimes.  I just couldn't see myself standing by.  You see, I've taken it as my calling to helping the youth of Chicago by making sure that parents (like my in-laws) see that Scouting is an option for their sons and daughters.  A possible way out of the neighborhood.  An opportunity to supplement what they may or may not be doing to instill a moral compass in their child.   I believe strongly the lack of strong moral fiber is what is missing- it is what we don't talk about in mixed company.  Whites know it- but can't talk about it- because they may be seen as 'racists'.  Some in the black community crucify those from outside their community for pointing out what we all know is true.  How dare they?  Heck, I'd argue they crucify those in their community who speak the truth- I call Bill Cosby as evidence in the battle for what needs to be said.  In the Latino community- parents turn a willing blind eye to the reality right underneath their very eyes.  Not 'mijo' (my little son)! He's a good kid. 

At the end of the day, Scouting faces the same challenge the education system faces.  It's sometimes our job to try and repair what isn't addressed at home.  It's a deficit we have in our society- a deficit of moral character.

So the call came at about 1:40 a.m. Sunday morning.  I've had tons on my mind as my own dad has been sick.  The phone rang and then nothing. I immediately thought the worst.   I ran over to the dresser- It was my wife's phone.  "Hon- it is your brother" Calls in the early morning hours are seldom good.  "Don't say that" She said. "I'll be right there".   We received news that her nephew had been shot by 'one of his friends' in an altercation.   The family was convening at the crime scene.  

As I waited at home- our two young ones asleep.  I reached out to my contacts.  The facts were pretty damning:  "GSW- short range.  Weapon allegedly recovered.  Not registered. Illegal gun. Gang related. Person of interest in custody."   

It took me back to a birthday party we were invited to to for his little girl last Summer.  The first one he was able to attend last July after he was released (colostomy bag and all) from a lengthy stay in critical care.  He was living the life then- wearing the colors and  everyone was in full denial.  Not me.  I could see that even being on his deathbed hadn't done it.  This had one ending possible: Dead or in Jail.  Strike the second option. 

Rest in Peace.  We failed you. 

*I've redacted some specifics as this is still a legal case. 

Copyright© 2014 Tenacity for Life- 

Monday, February 24, 2014

An Act of Valor- "It's what I was taught- Do the right thing"

We need more young men like this.  God only knows we need more. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday's Reflection: Strong Families are the ultimate backbone of civilization.

 Woman knows what Man has too long forgotten, that the ultimate economic and spiritual unit of any civilization is still the family. ”
— Clare Booth Luce

As we look around us today, we see multiple examples of a threat to the very fiber of our society.   This week we honored the one year anniversary of Hadiya Pendleton's death.   Politicians gravitated to that tragedy and in typical political fashion focused on the wrong issue- the weapon used to shoot young Ms. Pendleton.   They skimmed over the real issues at hand: The gang violence that plagues America's inner cities (the story of the shooter- Micheal Ward) and what drives Chicago's youth to join gangs- the lack of sound family structure, mentoring which all make them ripe recruits for the Gang lifestyle. 

The statistical data is out there showing the direct overlap with some of Chicago's toughest, most gang infested neighborhoods-the proliferation of gangs in those very same areas and the high percentage of single parent households in those same neighborhoods.    The overlap and correlation is amazing.    If you look at the commons sense and logic behind it- it is really very simple.  Strengthen families and you give the kids a fighting chance.   

Have you ever wondered how despite the "million men marches"  and various fatherhood initiatives- there is still a high correlation of children being raised in poverty?    The poverty I speak of is not so much of the financial kind rather a poverty of character, values and moral fiber.     This isn't a general indignation of all single parent households- yet the statistics for children raised in single parent homes wages a strong argument for a need to change that dynamic.   As a parent- I'm very present to the difficulties of raising children in today's society.   Balancing work, family and the financial pressures of running your own business are unique in their own light.  I'm thankful that my wife and I take a team approach to raising our daughters.   Both our presence in the upbringing of the children makes sure that we are able to supplement their education with practical teaching that help mold their way of being and human-ness.   I couldn't fathom having to go about this by myself.    My hat goes off to anyone who is able to make it through being raised by a single-parent and comes out OK.     

Now let's factor the biggest "at risk" profile- young boys.    The peak development period of birth through 6 years of age is so very important for many children- much more so for young boys.   This is when they need the most guidance.   I won't go off in a developmental rant- but it is crucial that their values and moral compass be properly formed during this critical period.    Little boys have a ton of energy and it needs to be focused.    They are little sponges that look to see how the men around them are behaving.  This is when the true essence of manhood is developed.   They see how their male role-models treat the woman figures in their life.   Are they polite?  Do they treat the women with respect?  How do men and women around them interact?     

The absence of proper male role-modeling during this period is detrimental to their development.   If there is NO male role models, it opens the dynamic for negative influences to take over.    Media, video games, television are all filled with poor examples of manhood.    In urban environments- the negatives outweigh the positives.   By the time, those same boys become adolescents- if they have been immersed in negative role modeling- the opportunity for gangs and other negative influences becomes even greater.    Add to this dynamic a poor socio-economic environment and you have what Michael Ward might have gone through.   At the age of 18- it is too late.    They have associated with the gang element to the point where their need to 'belong to something' has been supplanted with their dysfunctional 'gang family'.     

This 'cycle' is multi-generational and often our society responds by throwing money at the problem without proper direction for outcomes.    The money should be applied to strengthening the family structure and initiatives that teach those young boys what is the true nature of  a "Real Man". 

Lord Baden Powell had it right when he observed African tribes and the familial structure that the tribal arrangement provided.   The supportive structure of  extended tribal elders supporting the family to supplement the upbringing of young men and women.     In a society of broken families and single parent households- it is imperative that we revisit this tribal structure and implement some of Baden Powell's observations.   LBP spoke of the need to make a young boy healthy and well developed in his youth so that he might be a contributor to the world around him.   I wonder how different the world around us might be if we applied those principles today?