By Adam McLane When Can I Call You Soldier arrived for me to review I actually snorted out loud. Looking at the back cover I thought, “What am I going to do with this book, it's a book about black men mentoring young black men?” Yet it did not take very long to realize that the application of the ideas presented extend well beyond a single race or even gender.
In 1998 Harold Davis looked through the suspension statistics of his local school district. What he discovered led him to take immediate action. While African American children represented 30% of the district's population they were seven times more likely to be suspended. It was then that he realized that he needed to invest his life in investing in the lives of a generation of young men who desperately needed to be mentored. He took bold action, quit his job, and began equipping other men in his community to invest in young men for the purpose of life change.
Davis' call to action is specifically geared at the African American community. Further, he calls black men to be a source of the solution and not to rely on anyone else. His thesis is that men must be the ones teaching boys to be men. “Every boy needs a man in his face, challenging him with wisdom regarding critical issues and decision in his life.” Reverend Davis does not present a text book on mentoring adolescent boys. His ideas are direct and to the point telling men in his community to get to work or lose another generation. Nor does he present a politically correct view on solutions for problems plaguing adolescents of all races.
Instead, he packages practical advice and a strong call for the men of the local church to step up and be men who are strong, willing to battle, and interested in reversing today's problems. This book stirs up memories of a strikingly similar work intended for fathers by Crawford Lorritz, Jr., Never Walk Away. What makes the parallel so powerful is that in both cases these strong men of faith were mentored and reflect on the lessons learned from their fathers. While Davis' book contains in depth-of-call and biblical relevance, it lacks as a full book. The first chapter is strong and the rest of the book merely elongates the thoughts of the first chapter without providing the reader much new thought. The great hope of Davis' book is that by mentoring a fatherless generation of men on how to be men who love God, their families, and respect themselves, that such calls to action will not be needed in the future.