To cut dead means to refuse to acknowledge another with the intent to punish. Gregory Ellison says that this is the plight of African American young men. They are stigmatized with limited opportunity for education and disproportionate incarceration. At the same time, they are often resistant to help from social institutions including the church. They are mute and invisible to society but also in their inward being. Their voice and physical selves are not acknowledged, leaving them ripe for hopelessness and volatility. So if the need is so great yet the desire for help wanes, where is the remedy?
Healing can begin by reframing the problem. While to cut dead is destructive, it also refers to pruning and repotting a disfigured plant—giving it new possibilities for life. In this provocative book, Ellison shows how caregivers can sow seeds of life, and nurture with guidance, admonition, training, and support in order to help create a community of reliable others, serving as an extended family.