AFRS T-130 Fall 2011
BLACK MALE ELDER RECOGNITION PROJECT
I am going to write about a man named John H Wilson III. John Wilson was born and raised in Washington, D.C. . He grew up in a bad inner city of Washington,D.C. his mother tried to keep him away from crime. At the time the biggest gang in the inner city was the Dodson Gang which he fought many times. He stated he had to fight because the inner city lost kids thought he was a sell out for going to good schools. Majority of his adolescence he attended catholic schools. By the age of 18 he was running the youth department at his catholic church. He attended and graduated from George Washington University with a degree in Electrical Engineering . As a youth he never succumbed to what society and his peers expected of a black male. While at George Washington University he was always the responsible youth never smoked pot or drank alcohol. He spent some of his summers working with legendary basketball coach Morgan Wooten who he said was a vital person in his life. He said everything he learned about being a mentor was from Wooten who he called Rocko. People couldn’t understand how close they were just because Wooten was a man of White descent.
He moved in 1980 to Los Angeles to work for Hughes Aircraft Company and later on Northrop Grumman. Wilson had a near 20 year career as an aerospace engineer. By the year 2006 he was a full time deacon. He ended his career as an engineer to work full-time as the Education and Enrichment Ministry Program Director at West Angeles Church. The program started off small; but there are now over 400 youth from over 45 middle and high schools all across the Los Angeles area, from Pasadena to Long Beach. Wilson believes the term Mentor is a misused term ; feels that being a person that helps others is a lifetime commitment. That anyone can be that person if they take on the challenge with an open mind that we have to pick each other up. That is our christian duty offer help to an open hand seeking help. He does not feel it should just be a job title that we all play a part in each others lives.
John H Wilson is the definition of going against what society expects of us. He finished school and made it possible for the next generation to do the same. There are few of the stereotypes of black males that in Mr. Wilson I see the opposite. When I first met Deacon Wilson my senior year in high school I was like most youth in the Los Angeles area, lost. I had the mindset that I would not even go to college. The first thing Deacon Wilson said to me what do I look forward to in my life. This occurred back in 07-08 I was 18 age years of age never thought much of myself. Deacon Wilson was the first male other than my Grandfather that let me know it was OK to show emotion. I went the first 17 years of my life being all bottled up and not expressing myself. Deacon Wilson just talked to me with respect, he used a different tone very expressive. Majority of my life I never had those kinds of relationships with males other than a few family members. The males in my life were very much closed and emotionless. I had a few friends in gangs and a couple uncles in and out of jail. I really felt that that’s all a black man can amount to in America. My teenage years I sort of used everything around as an excuse for the way I was acting. I believe when I met Deacon Wilson it opened my eyes to that males can show emotion and not be considered weak. Growing up in the Los Angeles area which is infested with Gang Culture you few you cant show emotion. Everything around you is baring down on you saying this how you have to be. The females, your friends,and some of your family all have this line of thinking : showing emotion as a black male can get you killed. My senior year in high school I spent all most all my Tuesday and Thursdays at Deacon Wilson’s study program. While in that program Deacon Wilson showed me many different things that for most of my life was closed to my mindset. What I mean by this is in my life I barely saw any males in my family succeeding in life. Some of my uncles had decent jobs but never saw the connection with the breaking stereotypes and the males in my family. Other than my Grandfather I never saw much of my uncles finishing college or anything along the lines of a progressive Black Male. Deacon Wilson would have black male scholars from prestigious colleges like USC, George Washington University come talk to us. What always intrigued me was the fact that the speakers would come from the same community as me. The media always said we could amount to nothing but Gang Bangers and Jail birds; and up to that point I was very much believing of that stereotype. The essence of what makes Deacon Wilson great is what he represents. I didn’t know about the term progressive black male but, it now dons on me that he was that for me. Because as a youth I was like most trying to fit in, but when I would walk into West Angeles I put my introspective face on. What I mean by this Deacon Wilson would walk in study hall and say come on guys don’t cuss don’t say nigga in here. I’m not going to lie the first couple of weeks it was very much hard to not bring my ignorant slang into class with me. But by the weeks when I started to see what he represented I felt it would be disrespectful to come in there with any other mindset than to be different.
Deacon Wilson always spoke on how much he loved his daughter . His daughter was in our study program. This was very much vital to me because like most youth of Los Angeles my father was not around as much. I really believe that those great male figures can see that void in most black male youth because Deacon Wilson saw it in me. It was very evident that he cared about me because he always asked how I felt about social issues just picking my brain. I always thought why he would ask this, but taking this African American Males studies course showed me he was trying to open my eyes. He continues to open doors for more youth ; that similar to myself are lost and thought there was only one way of thinking as a black man in a corrupt society.
So I feel that Deacon John H Wilson is the definition of a progressive Black Man. I can’t recall ever seeing the man hyper-aggressive unless your talking about education. He was a passionate man when it came to giving people an opportunity to open themselves to help. To this day he is doing his part to make the community a better place. It was hard to even find time to get the interview because he’s so busy had to schedule an appointment. But I am very grateful for male figures like him and I hope one day I can emulate his effort to make a change. I know for an fact society has not changed I see it every time I come home. I hope as we as a people move forward in life can pick each other up. The whole mindset of me…. me …me….. you get yours I am going to get mine ,has to stop amongst us black people as a whole. Because if we can learn to all be helpful to each other ;we can change not only ourselves we can change the culture of what we feel we should be and what the world believes we should be as well. I feel I learned this from being in the presence of Deacon Wilson not the person but what he represents. In my eyes black males aren’t the minority black males with a sense of purpose and understanding is the minority. And this will continue to be so if we don’t change our community. This is why when Deacon Wilson said the term mentor is misused it blew my mind. When I think of the word mentor I think of someone wiser and bigger than the next. When in reality we should all uplift each other. I learned that from Deacon Wilson and what I learned in my African American Studies course.