I thank God for the great success of Letters to Young Black Men as it has now become a perennial national bestseller, an ESSENCE magazine national bestseller, a Dallas Morning News bestseller, and an Amazon.com bestseller for ten years straight.
The first reason is because the Lord impressed upon my heart the apparent great need among young black men in our community for Godly, loving, fatherly, advice and encouragement while on their journey in this life. I had a burden on my heart for my “kinsmen according to the flesh.”
It disturbed me to see so many young black men messing up their lives so early in life, simply because they were not firmly guided in the right direction. So by the leading of the Lord, I decided to put pen to paper in hopes that God would use Letters to Young Black Men to at least “save some.”
I believe that the written word is still one of the most effective ways to reach people in a more concrete and permanent way. God could have written His Word in the sky, but He chose to record all His Words in a Book—the Bible. Note what author, Bud Gardner, said: “When you speak, your words echo only across the room or down the hall. But when you write, your words echo down the ages.”
The second reason I wrote Letters to Young Black Men is because I am a child of the early sixties — arguably one of the most exciting periods of our American history. Indeed, in the words of Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” For black people, there could be no truer statement. Many agree that while we as a people were making major “strides toward freedom”, freeing ourselves from the awful Jim Crow era, and beginning to take our rightful place in American society, we began to lose some other important things, such as the good old fashioned way of raising our children, which included corporal chastisement for doing wrong, and an emphasis on virtue and doing the right thing. In addition to that, when so many doors to employment opportunities began to open for our parents and grandparents, many naturally took on the mentality: “My children won’t go through what I went through. They will have many of the things I did not have while I was growing up.”
No one can blame them for having that mentality. Coming out of what they came out of, anybody would have done the same. However, the results are still none-the-less damaging, and because of that natural mentality, we have a generation of young people, who, for the most part, lack character, are materialistic, do not carry the values of their forefathers, and do not respect their parents, or anyone else for that matter. Our community has suffered many casualties and losses, and has planted seeds of destruction and pain that are immeasurable, and that will probably take a generation to overcome.
These are the things that motivated me to write Letters to Young Black Men and now, Mo’ Letters to Young Black Men. However, I did not write these books as an end in themselves.
I wrote these books for all young black men, but I wrote them primarily for the young black men who have faced some disadvantages in their young life, for I am convinced that the young life is the most important part of life. I wrote this book for the young black man who has no father, or who has a weak father; for the young black man who has no mother, or who has a mother whose priorities are out of order. I believe that if things are not done right in a person’s childhood, it does not mean that he or she cannot cope with life when he or she gets older. However, there will be gaps in that person’s life, and those gaps will appear under pressure. These books are an attempt to help fill in some of those gaps in the lives of these young men.
I wrote these books to serve as a ramp that can get young black men on the right freeway—the freeway toward greater success and productivity in this life.
—Daniel Whyte III
Fort Worth, TX