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Michael Winans Goes to Prison: Giving our kids the stage before we give them the struggle.

February 28, 2013


Michael Winans, a third generation member of the famous Winans family, who are known for their work in gospel entertainment, has been convicted of defrauding churches and has been sentenced to 13 years in prison by a federal court. Now, before I go into my opinion editorial, let me first say that I am not casting blame on Michael, instead I am casting shame on him. However, he is not the first sign of a member of the black community gone aberrant. In fact, this issue has been our story ever since the 1970’s and 1980’s. We are continuing to slip away from the progress we’ve made and succumb to waywardness. It is beyond the “act”. It is beyond our culture. It is even beyond our psyche. It is deeply embedded in our emotions. That carrot that is placed in front of our children’s eyes, the situation that we don’t train them to ignore if it will jeopardize their integrity.

Here is the back story: According to News One, ( Michael Winans, Jr. traveled to churches claiming that members would be investing in crude oil in Saudi Arabia and will get $1000 – $8000 in returns within 60 days. He collected the cash. His scheme racked up $8M. (This is why pastors give me the third degree when I offer to come in and train their members on entrepreneurship; one shady black man making it difficult for a reputable one. I digress.) I am often baffled by stories of kids who don’t need to commit crime and bilk monies out of others doing so. Well, that segues into my next point of character and culture.

We can say that the sons of urban “kings and queens” have had trouble carrying the torch of their ancestry, coupled with the culture of America as a whole, it is becoming even more difficult for blacks to “relay” the prestige. Why is that? It is because we are systematically hitting the stage before the struggle. See, struggle enables us to connect with our inner self, it helps us meditate, critically think and teaches us to endure through some of the toughest most intimate battles our personal selves will encounter. I always say that parents should rescue their children from dangerous situations but not difficult ones. When we rescue them from “difficult” we cheat them out of “endurance”.

I remember when I first left the Virgin Islands out of my parents’ home. I was 18 years old and living on my own in North Carolina. I had no established credit or a boatload of cash. I had no longtime friends and little vehicular mobility. I didn’t live on a public transportation route, and of course, cell phones were not affordable back then so I had none. I used a payphone in the cold to call home and spent the rest of my time building my social character. I had to learn to make friends who were not from the Virgin Islands, much less, the Caribbean. I had to deal with my reality. I distinctively remembered begging my mother to co-sign on a car loan for me so I could get around, but she refused and didn’t budge. I eventually got a car at 29% interest and had what seemed like an eternity of car payments. Today, I have mastered managing money, resources and time. I am not fearful of solitude and I have a good grasp on how to solve problems.

I now have a son who recently left the coop. He is in college in a small town and faces some of the similar challenges I faced, minus no cell phone and vehicle to move around. Yet, he is disgruntled and has waved the flag for rescue but I encourage him to endure. He is not happy with my insistence, like I was back in the early 1990’s at my mother, but as I reflect on the many challenges I had to face since then and my preparedness and ability to conquer them over the years, I am forever grateful to my mother for not propelling me to the “stage” before I understood struggle.

Struggle builds character. Many of us know this, so like I said before, it is not that we don’t have psychological or philosophically awareness. Our issue becomes how we display our expression of love to our children. In a society that now relates “love” to compassion, help, inclusion, and being politically correct, we are systematically setting our “non-struggled” children up for failure. Society is saying to us that if we make them struggle while we (parents) have the ability not to, we are damaging them. Then we ask “What’s wrong with these kids of today?” The real question is “What’s wrong with these parents of today?” Why can’t we see that loving our children is preparing them for the battles of life and temptations of corruption? You may not like the music of Master P or P. Diddy but they both insisted that their boy children struggle through college on their own rather than simply inheriting the fortress. They got what struggle produces and I am only left to assume that they are trying to instill that into their children.

My mother had plenty of resources and an established track record where she could have easily propelled me into a fancy sports car (that’s what I wanted but had to settle on an economy car since I was getting it on my own) back then. Over the years I had to learn, what was hers was hers. I was now charged with the challenge of being a man and leading my own life free from the parental crutch. This is the message I give to my son. I tell him the life he had preceding his 18th birthday was a life his mother and I created and loaned to him. His loan was now due and it is time for him to develop his own credit line.

This is what’s destroying our community: our emotions. We are following the instructions of the TV shows, political soundbytes and more. They use the statistics of the child who was forced by their parents to struggle and became a serial killer or drug addict to be the rule, rather than the exception. More children turn out positively when they understand struggle than those who become criminals because of it. It sounds nice to say “be nice” to our children. But as parents, our job is to make them successful, not happy. At the end of the day, happiness is subjective and as committed as an ocean breeze. If we don’t commit to the character development of our children through struggle, we can continue to expect the embarrassment they will give us when they do set foot on that stage.

Devin Robinson is a business and economics and author of 8 books. Learn more about him at and his latest book at

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Daryl Rolle permalink
    February 28, 2013 11:17 am

    Great outlook on thus situation. I believe that when you allow children to build their own character through “toughing it out” you out them in a situation to win. Children need to know how to handle everything situated in the life thrown way.

  2. f.z.j. permalink
    February 28, 2013 9:11 pm

    Hope you prayed for him.

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