Commentary: Being African American, male and thankful in America

Commentary: Being African American, male and thankful in America
December 02
12:24 2021

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Thanksgiving is an age-old holiday and tradition. It gives us an opportunity to gather with family and friends.

It is a celebration of recalling memories of old and making new memories. And of course, you cannot forget about the food. We eat as much as we can for as long as we can.

This Thanksgiving holiday was a time of relief and release. Some might challenge this statement, but I believe it is true.

The health crisis called COVID-19 made “Happy Thanksgiving” not so happy.

Sickness and death kept us at bay. Healthcare experts warned us not to see one another because of the fear of the spread of the disease. Wearing a mask, washing our hands, and being socially apart replaced our usual festive Thanksgiving.

Many of us spent more time at the hospital than at the dinner table on Thanksgiving last year. Now with the vaccine and the booster, Thanksgiving this year was different. We were able to be around our family members and friends.

I hope your family and friends were vaccinated. Mine were.

This coronavirus is still with us. Do not be fooled seeing large crowds in shopping centers. Not all of them have taken the vaccine.

Some people who are not vaccinated believe they will be a part of herd immunity. Personally, I did not want to take that chance. Playing around with my life wasn’t something I was ready to do.

After our Thanksgiving meal and fellowship, I started to reflect upon these times in our society.

As an African American male, I am blessed to still be here. As I have said before, I am in the fourth quarter trying to get to overtime. Many of my friends, as they say in the church, have gone onto glory.

So, when I wake up in the morning, I give Him thanks for another day. I thank Him for allowing me to leave my home and return to it safely. That word “safely” is an important word in today’s lexicon, especially if you look like me.

Leaving our homes does not necessarily mean returning to our homes. Sadly, but factually, there is some risk involved. A lot of times the risk is unseen.

Last week in Brunswick, Georgia, a jury found three men guilty of murder in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

As most of America knows, he left home going for a jog. He did not return. Ahmaud Arbery was missed at the Thanksgiving dinner table. His family will forever mourn his loss.

African American men, these incidents sometimes called accidents happen way too often to us. We live in everyday fear thinking that we might be next.

My prayer is that we take care of ourselves. What does that mean?

It means that as Black men, we must treat each other better. We ourselves must be slow to anger and control our temper. Being ready to do bodily harm to each other will leave an empty space at the dinner table. There is no happiness in remorse and sorrow.

There are already built-in obstacles to our success. We must not be obstacles and roadblocks to one another.

We have a purpose here and that is to be role models and to lift one another up.

Let us make a pledge now to truly be our brother’s keeper. Otherwise, we will fall victim to unintended violence and mayhem because we didn’t keep our cool. We let our temporary anger become a permanent mark on our character.

Usually for us, it lands us in jail. That is the reality. “That’s keeping it real.”

Treating each other with dignity and respect will mean enjoying many more Thanksgivings to come.

James B. Ewers Jr., Ed.D., is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator. He can be reached at

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