black-men

His Story| The Invisible Man: Ending Disparities, Building a Culture of Health

His Story| The Invisible Man: Ending Disparities, Building a Culture of Health

His Story

Click Here to see Infographic–> The Invisible Man

That reflection, delivered by Keith Elder, flows from the shared mission he and his colleague Keon Gilbert have embraced: bringing Black men into public conversations about health, health care, and health reform. They say their goal is to spotlight the dire need for more resources focused on Black men.

Elder, PhD, MPH, chairs the Department of Health Management and Policy at Saint Louis University’s School of Public Health. His work moves beyond disparities and dysfunction, expanding the research to expose the breadth and depth of Black men’s health issues from cradle to grave. Gilbert, DrPH, MPH, MPA, an assistant professor in the department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, focuses on outreach, education, and interventions that increase Black men’s access to social capital in order to improve overall health outcomes.

Gilbert’s goal is to redefine Black men’s health—and not just as wellness, illness, or an absence of disease. “Black men should embrace the broadest definition of health, including how health can fuel their educational and economic ambitions, their dreams, and their well-being,” he says.

They are co-authors of two recent studies: “Men’s Health Disparities in Confidence to Manage Health,” published in the fall 2013 issue of the International Journal of Men’s Health, and “Trust Medication, Adherence and Hypertension Control in Southern African American Men,” which appeared in the American Journal of Public Health in December 2012.

They both credit New Connections—a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) initiative that works to expand the diversity of perspectives informing RWJF program strategy—with helping to enhance their research agendas, and deepening their network of scholars and support.

Elder (a 2009 New Connections alumnus), whose research marked some of the seminal data on Black men’s health status, encouraged Gilbert to seek RWJF support. A current fellow, Gilbert is using his New Connections grant to engage Black men around access to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The goal is to understand how to help those without insurance obtain it, and to persuade those who have it to use it more often by seeking routine and preventive health care services.

Black Men Missing From Health Care Conversation

One of the first hurdles confronting Black men is health coverage. Second, and more fundamentally, many Black men do not readily access health care even when they are insured. Elder notes that Black men with health insurance are two times less likely to use it than other groups.

“Black men are one of the hardest groups to reach. No one is looking to engage them, and they are just not plugged into the systems,” says Gilbert.

Education and outreach, vital to improved health status, are not isolated from the other challenges to advancing Black men’s health. “We have to expand the science when it comes to a myriad of processes, from access to health care outcomes,” says Elder. His New Connections research focused on predictors, perceptions, and evaluation of health care quality by Black men in non-emergency medicine.

“Our published research is important, but the people we need to reach aren’t in the academic world,” says Elder. “They are in the barbershop, on the basketball court, and in communities that are medically underserved.”

Health Disparities’ Effect on Black Men

The health disparities suffered by Black men are stunning: The death rate from heart disease is 30 percent higher than that of white male counterparts; from stroke, it is 60 percent higher. The diabetes death rate is 200 percent higher for Black men, and the death rate from prostate cancer is more than 200 percent higher.

Gilbert notes that the disparities exist in specific outcomes, such as chronic disease and unintentional injuries. “These are the barriers men face starting early in life, when those diseases begin and then manifest over time,” he says. “The question becomes, what can we do in the realm of prevention? And what can we do to address social determinants that may limit opportunities for access to care, education, and quality employment?”

He suggests that encouraging young men to complete high school and go to college may be one answer. Paying attention to their health at an earlier age is another solution.

Gilbert points out that another impediment comes from Black men’s sense of self, perceived masculinity, and gender identity. He adds that they are not socialized to go to the doctor on a regular basis: Research shows that men younger than 18 tend to go to the doctor when prompted by a parent, or because they are active in sports, but after the age of 18 health care utilization drops off dramatically.

Moreover, says Gilbert, there is a history in America of rendering Black men invisible, which puts them at greater risk. He believes engagement has to start on parallel tracks, in small, incremental, and systemic measures. “When men have the opportunity to talk about things that are important to them and participate in decision-making, it almost always makes a difference. It increases their engagement and the chances of improved outcomes.”

This spills over into policy as well. Gilbert notes that the states choosing to expand Medicaid provisions under ACA now include people with felony convictions, who previously were ineligible for Medicaid coverage. This provides an important opportunity to introduce and expand access to a large segment of the excluded and marginalized population.

Familiar Settings, Fresh Dialogue

Gilbert says men have to be part of the discussion in varied situations. “The conversation has to happen at the dining room table…in churches, barbershops, fraternities, and other settings. There’s a need to really focus and dig deep, to expand the definition of manhood—your need to be healthy, eat a good diet, and get exercise and health screenings. It’s not just taking care of your families and communities, but understanding that you must be a healthy participant in your family and community.”

Elder underscores the importance of access, coupled with trust in the medical system. “From a medical encounter and management perspective, we need to make sure the experience is good and fruitful. That’s what the Affordable Care Act can do. Men need a good medical home.”

According to Elder, a good medical encounter includes every interaction. “From the time they enter the door, with the first person they meet, that first interaction has to be positive. The encounter with the physician should be participatory,” he says.

Elder explains that physicians should offer information, but also listen and engage the patient, adding that patients need to be active in the encounter. “I know I have to take the lead in my health,” he says. “I take a detailed approach during my doctor visits, and I always plan to do a lot of talking and ask questions during the medical encounter.”

He emphasizes the importance of recognizing that good health practices needn’t be restricted to a doctor’s office. “We have to manage the prevention and self-care for ourselves.”

Ending Disparities, Building a Culture of Health

Elder believes the answer is to take steps in the right direction. “Health disparities are not going away in our lifetime,” he says. “Even men who know better don’t do better. Black men still don’t have a 100 percent adherence rate to medical advice.”

The challenges can be combated by a national and sustained commitment to researching Black men’s health throughout the lifespan. No one has really taken a systemic look at Black men. Gilbert adds, “The majority of research is focused on cancer, violence, or HIV.”

Elder advocates for more funding and support at the undergraduate and graduate levels. This will build a pipeline of students who will increase their educational achievement and expand the cadre of scholars devoted to Black men’s health.

“If we don’t have the science, we can’t change the policy and how we deliver care. Who are you going to compare Black men to?” Elder asks.

Both Gilbert and Elder conclude that Black men are not monolithic, but have too often been reactive, waiting for a health crisis to arise before taking action. Engaging Black men more directly through peer and family networks can empower them with the skills and resources to attain better health.

Click here to see infographic–> The Invisible Man

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His Story: The Definition of a Black Man (Spoken Word)

His Story: The Definition of a Black Man (Spoken Word)

His Story

Despite all of the recent controversies and all of the images circulating through the media portraying the black man as a threat to society, this video was composed to shine light on the aspects a black man the media fails to shine light on. The true Definition of a Black Man is not the images conveyed in today’s music videos. It’s not the images we see plastered on T.V. screens that fills the world’s eyes with negativity. It is time for the world to experience what the Definition of a Black Man really is. It’s time to shine the light on the image that was fought for. In the past if you were black, you did not have a voice. You were not recognized as a man. If you were black, you could not drink from the same fountain, sit in the same seats, you were considered less than human and not worthy of the lifestyle offered to others in society. Today that image still lives on in the mind of those not willing to see the Black Man for what he really is, A MAN… with dreams, goals, ambition and the heart of gold. This video was created to not only shine light on a new image in the media, but to redefine the TRUE Definition of a Black Man.

Poem written by: Ryan Carson (twitter: @sebastiancarson)
Filmed/Edited by: Andrew Brown (twitter: @Drewski5000)
Thug Black Man: Tilmon Keaton (twitter: @tilmonkeaton)
White Man: Gil Costello
Cinematography/Colorist: Jairus Burks (twitter: @dopbatman0078)
Lighting: Davion Baxter
Audio: Ryan Rehnborg

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League of EXTRAordinary Black Men: Raymond Roy-Pace

League of EXTRAordinary Black Men: Raymond Roy-Pace

League Of Extraordinary Black Men

The pressures of life will attempt to challenge the existence of your being, define yourself to withstand the pressure. ~ Raymond Roy-Pace

The pressures of life will attempt to challenge the existence of your being, define yourself to withstand the pressure. ~ Raymond Roy-Pace

TheBlackManCan has made its way to Philadelphia, PA to bring you another Black Man making positive and remarkable contributions in the city of brotherly love. We proudly present educator and servant leader Raymond Roy-Pace Founder and Executive Director of BeU365. Raymond sits down with TheBlackManCan to discuss being a scholar-athlete, lifting as you climb, pursuing advanced degrees and advice for young men of today.

TheBlackManCan: Raymond, can you share a little about your childhood and how it shaped you into the man you are today?

RP: I grew up in an impoverished urban community in Philadelphia, PA. I spent time living with my mother and grandmother as a child.  My neighborhood was plagued with the same issues of drugs, violence and lack of resources that most urban communities are faced with. Firsthand experience with some of these issues in my own home weaved a tough skin and an unrelenting will to become better than the world I was so familiar with. I would not be the man I am today without the unwavering support I received from my grandmother and my other family members.  My uncles each stepped in at pivotal times in my development not only to help usher me in to manhood but to broaden my horizons and expose me to a world unlike my own.

TheBlackManCan: You are the perfect example of what it means to be a scholar-athlete. How do we get more young men to realize what it means and the importance of being a scholar–athlete?

RP: To get students to understand what it means to be a scholar athlete we need to give them some of those who exemplify those qualities.  Myron Rolle was a Rhodes Scholar and aspiring neurosurgeon. He spent time in the NFL but eventually choose to practice medicine.  Maurice Bennett was a 4 year Academic and Football All American that passed over the NFL because he would become more profitable working on Wall Street.  I provided these examples because these men created options for themselves.  I am an academic and scholar athlete sidelined after a subdural hematoma (bleeding in the head).  I was successful in the completion of two degrees, successful in developing my own youth development program and while also educating others in the classroom.  1 million children playing football, approximately 250 of them will make a NFL team each year. In other sports these numbers may vary but not too far off.  The world of athletics has its own fan club.  The same way we glorify the kid who made the buzzer beater shot in a game, we have to do the same with every positive note a teacher’s sends home and every A or B on a report card so our kids can began to see value in hard work and excelling in the classroom.

TheBlackManCan: You spent time as a case manager focusing on truancy. Can you tell is the three major issues behind truancy and what steps need to be taken to overcome them?

RP: The most consistent issues I saw facing students involved in truancy where the low expectations for students either imposed in them by the family or school.  For some of the families it was hard to see value in education if they did not have it. Poor coping skills within the families in dealing with life’s issues and the lack of positive role models were also a contributing factor.  So many students are experiencing “life” but they do not have the support system within the homes or schools to keep them encouraged.  It is hard to open up to people when they do not feel they understand them.

Your education does not stop when the school bell rings, keep a book handy and unlock the mysteries of life.  ~Raymond Roy-Pace

Your education does not stop when the school bell rings, keep a book handy and unlock the mysteries of life. ~Raymond Roy-Pace

TheBlackManCan: How important is it to lift as you climb? How has this ideology helped you in life?

RP: I have been fortunate in my life to have incredible mentors take chances on me when I had nothing to offer but a will to work.  It would be robbery if I did not do the same for others.  We are more successful when we employ others to exercise their gifts because they then become resources.

TheBlackManCan: As a 5th grade teacher can you share with us what parents should be doing in the home to make sure their child arrives on grade level?

RP: Research indicates one of the number one indicators of student academic success is their reading ability.  It is important for families to establish a reading schedule within their homes.  Just spending 15-30 minutes a day reading or being read to would expand students’ imaginations, open their eyes to the world around them and ultimately prepare them for school. Parents should also talk to children their children because encourages them to communicate what they feel and helps them to understand why which could ultimately have a great impact on classroom and peer behavior.

TheBlackManCan: Tell us more about BeU365. What is the meaning behind the name and the mission and vision?

RP: BeU365 is a self-developed program that aspires to inspire youth through creative education, mentorship and real world experiences.  The vision came from the idea of wanting to encourage young people to be who they truly are and not conform to the expectations of society. The three pillars of the program consist of creative education, mentorship and real world experiences, all of which are geared towards various aspects of helping to create positive and independent thinking. Creative education incorporates a project learning based curriculum designed to strengthen basic math skills but from a real life perspective and the facilitation workshops. Mentorship encompasses one-on-one mentorship, the speaker series, and mentoring curriculum.  The real world experiences that are still in development focus on getting middle school students out of the classroom and into internships to apply what they are learning.

Wherever you find yourself in life it is not by mistake.  There is a lesson to be learned in preparation for your greater.  ~ Raymond Roy-Pace

Wherever you find yourself in life it is not by mistake. There is a lesson to be learned in preparation for your greater. ~ Raymond Roy-Pace

TheBlackManCan: You recently obtained a Master’s degree. What did you pursue it and why is it important to show young people that they should pursue more than just a bachelor’s degree?

RP: Yes! Ma’ma I made it! (laughs)  I completed my Master of Arts and Teaching from Cheyney University in December 2012 after several conversations with my mentor Howard Jean about my career endeavors. He encouraged me to consider it if I planned to make a long lasting impact in the world of education.   The journey of completing my masters was invaluable because I was able to share it with my students.  Particularly in our urban communities, higher education is a mystery because they have so few examples of people that have obtained degrees.  Our world is changing and the status quo is unacceptable, that is to say if ever it was acceptable.  The jobs of old are no longer available and to be a part of the decision making process may also mean having those credentials.

TheBlackManCanWhere do you see yourself and your endeavors in the next five years?

RP: In the next five years I see myself back in education administration as a school leader.  When I resigned from running the operations of Birney Prep Academy, it was to gain the practical experience that will ultimately help me become an informed school founder.  There is a lot of politics that go into running schools and having my own school I believe I can limit some of that.

Young people are looking for someone to aspire to be and we must be the ones willing to be the example. ~Raymond Roy-Pace

Young people are looking for someone to aspire to be and we must be the ones willing to be the example. ~Raymond Roy-Pace

TheBlackManCan: Why is it important for Black Boys and Men to see positive images of themselves?

RP: We aspire to be what we see.  There cannot be an expectation of young black boys to gravitate towards becoming something they cannot identify with. There are very prominent youth and men of color making a positive impact in the world however it is not exactly breaking news at ten. Young people are looking for someone to aspire to be and we must be the ones willing to be the example.

TheBlackManCan: What words of advice do you have for young black males of today?

RP: To my young black brothers understand that your life is purposed. You have gifts and talents that the world awaits to unwrap. Wherever you find yourself in life it is not by mistake.  There is a lesson to be learned in preparation for your greater.  Spend time talking to those that have experienced more of life than you, there you will find wisdom.  Your education does not stop when the school bell rings, keep a book handy and unlock the mysteries of life.  Know who you are and whose you are.  The pressures of life will attempt to challenge the existence of your being, define yourself to withstand the pressure.

Check out Raymond website here–> www.raymondrpace.com

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Positive Black Male News: Louisiana principal inspires students with remarkable journey

Positive Black Male News: Louisiana principal inspires students with remarkable journey

Positive Black Male News

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

It’s an inspiring story about a man who worked his way up from school janitor to principal. He’s come so far that he’s surpassed even his own imagination.

Joseph Gabriel “Gabe” Sonnier is the principal of Port Barre Elementary. But Mr. Sonnier is more than just a principal; his story is unlike many others.

In August of 1981 he started his job at Port Barre Elementary as a custodian, a job he was thrilled to have.

He was forced to drop out of school at Southern Univeristy to help take care of his family and help his mother.

“For so many years I knew about custodial work because my father did it for all of his life,” said Sonnier.

After being a custodian at Port Barre for only four years, Sonnier was told by the principal at the time that instead of picking up papers off the ground, he should be grading them.

“At that time I did take it to heart.”

Source: The Grio

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His Story: Cuz he’s Black by Javon Johnson

His Story: Cuz he’s Black by Javon Johnson

His Story

BUY “cuz he’s black” and more work by Javon and other viral poets in VIRAL, an eBook anthology by Button Poetry:http://buttonpoetry.com/product/viral…

Like Javon on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/javonisms

Performing during semifinals of the 2013 National Poetry Slam for Da Poetry Lounge. DPL took second place in the tournament.

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His Story: Paying it Forward: I’m Still a Mentee but now I Mentor

His Story: Paying it Forward: I’m Still a Mentee but now I Mentor

His Story

2-R-Williams-Speaks-to-SchoolRashaun Williams didn’t realize he was being mentored until he began to see the role he played in other young people’s lives.

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Throughout my years in school, I was on the debate team, which taught me how to analyze multiple perspectives while staying neutral. Student council, which prepared me to speak for multiple voices equally. The drum squad, which showed me teams are only as strong as the weakest player, and track and field, which taught me that if the mind has the endurance to prevail, the body will only follow. However, after witnessing first-hand how poverty placed people in despair, degradation, and destitution, I felt as though the work I did in my free time made no real contribution to the world. I wanted to be a part of something greater than myself so desperately, so I took what I learned through my experiences in school and began a life of service to community. I started a volunteer community group called Phresh Philly, which promotes sustainability through social entrepreneurship and high school activism.

In 2008, while learning entrepreneurship at the Enterprise Center, I met Russell Hicks. We only really spoke to one another in passing, but the one time we did have a conversation, I learned that social entrepreneurship was my calling. Russell explained that his life was devoted to starting businesses that “do good” for the community. Although I wasn’t sure what that really meant at the time, it sounded perfect for me! After graduating the program, I didn’t see Russell again until 2011. By this time, I had given up all my extracurricular activities to focus on serving my community. Russell and I began attending town hall meetings at City Hall, where Russell knew EVERYONE in the room—and I mean everyone—but still made an effort to connect with me.

When he asked me: “What you been up too?” I proudly replied: “I am President of Phresh Philadelphia, a volunteer organization focused on community development, empowerment, and cleanups!” That moment felt great. Being able to tell Russell Hicks that I, Rashaun Williams, became a social entrepreneur like him—priceless.  He responded by saying:  “Well we need to do some work together brotha!” I went home that night, forgetting all about the town hall meeting, all I could think about was how humbled I was to have the opportunity to work with Russell Hicks. I could tell he was genuine in his statement and time proved it. From then on, Russell and I worked with community organizations and CDCs, organized clean ups in North Philadelphia and began mentoring youth throughout the city. Through his guidance and belief in me, I was given the power to empower others, and I knew this was my calling.

♦◊♦

Through a series of community empowerment events that Russell and I had planned together, I met Christopher Norris, CEO, Techbook Online Corporation, and we too began to build a solid relationship of service and commitment to community. Chris knew the city like the back of his hand, and whenever something was happening on the streets we were there. I learned more than I can put in words, but during my moments of reflection I put the lessons to practice in order to make my organization better. I shifted my focus on sporadically creating events around Philadelphia to focusing on academia, technology, business development, and environmental studies.

After spending years watching leaders, doers, directors, entrepreneurs, teachers and mentors do what they do best, it was time for me to take my service to community to the next level. I didn’t know it, but Chris was cultivating my growth as a social entrepreneur, sharpening my mind and allowing me to discover how this city operated in and out. It wasn’t long before I received a phone call from Chris, saying: “You’re applying for the BMe Challenge, and you’re gonna win!” I wasn’t sure if he was just looking to build my confidence or if he really believed I could win, but I applied and after months of working through the process, I became the youngest BMe Leader in Philly.

Chris and I eventually became business partners. We’re the Program Directors for TechKnoweldge G!™  a S.T.E.A.M powered edutainment campaign that informs the public of sustainability practices and engages schools and communities in sustainable project based learning activities. Our bond both as business partners and brothers grew as we continued to innovate, collaborate, and build on existing ideas. I had finally had a business partners who had more thoughts than me at a single time —that made business fun. Together, just like Russell and I had done in the past, we developed out-of-school time programs, mentored youth, and improved our business models together. It never occurred to me that I had surrounded myself with so many black males that were older, wiser and more accomplished than me, until my peers in school acknowledged changes in my behavior; a deep maturation that gave me an “old soul,” they said. I then began to ask myself: why so many people focused their energy on my success? Out of all the experienced, knowledgeable, and well established entrepreneurs in the world, why work with me? I was slightly confused, very humbled, but most importantly, I was afraid. My youth and inexperience could be the detrimental, and I didn’t want my weaknesses to inhibit anyone’s success. But Chris help me realize that mentorship is about seeing one’s potential, and creating an environment for which that potential can flourish.

♦◊♦

Mentors direct their mentees from point A to point B, and in between that time, mentors nurture independence so their mentees will be able and ready to go from point B to C on their own. Mentors place mirrors in front of mentees, allowing them to chisel their own imperfections; the chiseling starts when mentees are ready to grow. Mentors can’t make mentees travel down a road of success; they can only show them the way. As my mentors and I travel, synergy grows and brotherhood strengthens. I didn’t realize Russell Hicks and Chris Norris were mentoring me until I began to see how I played a role in other young people’s lives.

Now I am a mentor to many youth between the ages of 14 and 18, and I’m realizing that patience, understanding, humility, and wisdom are the foundation to effectively reaching others. I see the same passion for action in my mentees, and I understand how inertia antagonizes them to do more, give more, and be greater. I pay it forward by remembering that I was – and still am – a ball of energy without clear direction, but I’m not be alone. I am better off because these two mentors entered my life and now I am working to do the same for others. There’s potential in everyone, but sometimes only YOU can bring out one’s best self.

Happy National Mentoring Month! Celebrate by becoming a mentor today!

Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m DJ Reezey® & that’s the DJ’s drop!™

2013 BMe Leader Rashuan Williams is the Founder/Executive Director of Phresh Philly and the Director of Youth & Millennial Iniaitives, Techbook Online Corporation. 

Source: TBO Inc®

Twitter: @therealTBOInc

Facebook: /therealTBOInc

©2013 All Rights Reserved.

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His Story: The Truth About Black Male Mentors

His Story: The Truth About Black Male Mentors

His Story

1-Alex-Peay-BMeBMe Leader Alex Peay sets the record straight: “Black men mentor everyday.”

It was just the other day when I received the shock of my life. I was talking with my mentor, Trabian Shorters, CEO, BMe, about National Mentoring Month and he informed me that there isn’t much data available on black male mentors. Doing what any millennial will do in today’s hyper-connected society, I pulled out my phone and googled it.

READ: New Year to Bring New Network, Narratives for Inspired Black Men

Across my phone’s screen quickly appeared headlines that I knew weren’t true: “Black Men Do Not Mentor” and “Communities in Horrid Conditions Due to Lack of Black Male Mentors,” were just some of the false narratives available for public consumption. Thinking about the countless hours my team of black male mentors put into building our peer-to-peer mentoring organization, Rising Sons, I said to myself: how can they say that when we are doing the work, everyday?

READ: Paying it Forward: I’m Still a Mentee but now I Mentor.

The more I thought about that lie, the more frustrated I became. My truth is, I spend my days helping to grow a network of inspired black men, many of whom spend their personal funds to operate mentoring programs for black boys. The public is spinning the wrong narrative; its not that black men don’t mentor, it’s that there’s a lack of support, funding and visible celebration for those that do.

 

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Growing up I was blessed to have a positive black male figure in my life. His name was Uncle Kenny; he was the ideal figure of a mentor. Uncle Kenny—or “Uncdad,” as I liked to call him—ran his own mentoring program for black boys in Queens, New York, called The Chosen Few.

It reminded me of a fraternity for boys. I remember vividly there was a choir of boys who would use their voices to empower themselves and inspire the community.  My uncle Kenny taught me how to properly knot a tie and even how to give a firm handshake. During the summer of 2006, before going into my sophomore year at college, “Uncdad” passed away.

READ: How A Young Father’s Death Made me a Mentor

By winter of 2006 I started Rising Sons; but without my “Uncdad” around—and not being on good terms with my father—I had no black men I could turn to, or so I thought. Rising Sons became the mentorship I desired. We were a discussion group of majority black and Latino male students who got together and talked about our lives and communities. Since we came from different cultures and backgrounds we learned from each other. We built a community where we could support each other personally and professionally.

READ: You Don’t Have to be Perfect to be a Mentor

I’m proud to say the tradition we created still lives on today, as we help each other scale the work that we do for the community. I, in addition to the others black male mentor I’m associated with, have sacrificed so much to do this work.  So it hurts to only see news about black men destroying our communities. It hurts so bad to get rejected for funding when you KNOW your program is good enough. It hurts when you have to spend your last couple of dollars to make sure your mentee gets home or eats, but we do it.

We can choose to waste our time complaining about those black men who don’t mentor or serve the community, or we can step up and support the ones that do. We all identify with the large brand name mentoring organizations, but a number of them don’t engage black men. In closing, I would like to thank BMe (Black Male Engagement) for saying yes to me when everyone else said no. A BMe Community Impact Grant  was the first real funding Rising Sons ever received and it gave us the encouragement to believe that anything is possible.  BMe views black men the way societies should see black men: as assets to the community. As a BMe Leader and one of more than 3,000 inspired black men from across the country, I support black male mentors and I hope that all of you will, too.

Happy National Mentoring Month! Celebrate by becoming a mentor today!

2012 BMe Leader Alex Peay is the Founder of Rising Sons and an inaugural member of the Philly Roots Fellows.

**Editors note: Christopher “Flood The Drummer” Norris has curated all of these stories from the mentors in his community for a special a series on mentoring. after the series is complete all of the essays will be made into a book by TechbookOnline.

Alex Peay

 

About the Author: A Philly Drummer playing a Global Beat, Christopher A. Norris is an award-winning journalist, online content producer and professional drummer endorsed by TRX Cymbals. An American businessman, Norris currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Techbook Online Corporation, overseeing a strategic initiative of mobilizing local, regional, national and global communities by encouraging the production, safeguarding and dissemination of diversified contents in the media and global information networks.

Source: TBO Inc®

Twitter: @therealTBOInc

Facebook: /therealTBOInc

©2014 All Rights Reserved.

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His Story: Black Male Mentors Share, Inspire, Empower

His Story: Black Male Mentors Share, Inspire, Empower

His Story

At an event showcasing recipients of the Philly Roots Fellowship, a program supported by the Open Society Foundations that equips mentors with the tools they need to help young African-American men succeed, five powerful black male mentors sat center stage.

But it was 19-year-old Rashaun Williams who moderated the conversation among more than 60 black boys. They talked about being on the giving and receiving ends of mentoring and the importance of knowledge transfer between generations to ignite “phresh perspectives.”

The event, which celebrated National Mentoring Month, was co-organized by Techbook Online, a millennial-led news organization headquartered in Philadelphia designed to make the world aware of untold stories, and Sankofa Freedom Academy, a charter high school in the Frankford section of Philadelphia.

The group of teenagers hung onto Williams’s every word. They were enjoying themselves, and the positive energy in the room allowed for an open discussion.

When Williams, the youngest BMe Leader in Philadelphia, revealed he was still a teenager himself, the young men reacted with “Yoooo, he a young bull, that’s wassup,” and “Nineteen? I didn’t know you could do stuff like this at nineteen, wow.” BMe is a network of black men committed to making all communities stronger. It is backed by a partnership of foundations including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and the Heinz Endowment.

Williams, who is also a popular DJ, told the young men that he did not realize he was being mentored until he saw the impact he was having on other young people’s lives.  “An idol is someone you look up to; a mentor is someone who looks back,” he said.

Williams then asked the boys, “What is manhood?” and “What is black manhood?”

One after another of the students popped up and gave their definitions.

“Manhood is when you do things for people but you think of others instead of yourself,” said one student.

“Black manhood is working together—having a collective responsibility,” answered another.

One student said, “Black manhood is defying the odds of what people expect you to do.”

“I think manhood is a state of mind of maturity,” said another. “I think with manhood you have to be willing to sacrifice and have priorities. Everything you do should have a purpose, because your actions don’t just affect you but everyone around you.”

Williams asked, “How does society view black manhood?”

A young man wearing a black hoodie stood up and said, “Across the world, we are portrayed as violent, disrespectful to our women, and that we don’t take care of our children. But we know that’s not true. Society is real biased, and it’s harsh on us.”

We have it within our power as a society to topple barriers to equal opportunity for everyone, including African-American men and boys, who often face steep obstacles and inaccurate depictions in the media, which can affect self-perceptions and lead to diminished self-esteem.

Despite the word on the street, African-American men and boys are not problems that need to be solved—they’re assets. Every day they’re working to build strong communities.

About the Author: A Philly Drummer playing a Global Beat, Christopher A. Norris is an award-winning journalist, online content producer and professional drummer endorsed by TRX Cymbals. An American businessman, Norris currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Techbook Online Corporation, overseeing a strategic initiative of mobilizing local, regional, national and global communities by encouraging the production, safeguarding and dissemination of diversified contents in the media and global information networks.

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His Story: Things Black Men and Boys Say

His Story: Things Black Men and Boys Say

His Story

Continuing the celebration of National Mentoring Month, 2014 Echoing Green Search Partner, Techbook Online – in addition to collecting stories from black male mentors – co-organized a conversation between black male mentors and black teenage boys. 

The important dimensions of black males’ lives, such as manhood, brotherhood, masculinity and community, were just a handful of topics discussed last Friday at Sankofa Freedom Academy, located in the Frankford section of Philadelphia.

In a room full of more than fifty black teenage boys, a group of inspired black men – led by B.O.L.D member Rashaun Williams, the youngest BMe Leader in Philly – engaged the youth in a conversation that aimed to foster not only an interest in being mentored or becoming an mentor, but to encourage knowledge transfers between generations that ignite “phresh perspectives.”

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In a room full of more than fifty black teenage boys, a group of inspired black men – led by B.O.L.D member Rashaun Williams, the youngest BMe Leader in Philly – engaged the youth in a conversation that aimed to foster not only an interest in being mentored or becoming an mentor, but to encourage knowledge transfers between generations that ignite “phresh perspectives.”

BMe Leader Rashaun “DJ Reezey®” Williams asks: “What is manhood?”

 

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Continuing the celebration of National Mentoring Month, 2014 Echoing Green Search Partner, Techbook Online – in addition to collecting stories from black male mentors – co-organized a conversation between black male mentors and black teenage boys.

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(Black Male Mentors Take Center Stage to Share, Inspire and Empower: From L to R: Philly Roots Fellows: Rueben Jones, Eric Worley, Joshua Rivers and Jeff Jones.)

The important dimensions of black males’ lives, such as manhood, brotherhood, masculinity and community, were just a handful of topics discussed last Friday at Sankofa Freedom Academy, located in the Frankford section of Philadelphia.

2014-01-19-DJReezeyleadstalk.JPG

In a room full of more than fifty black teenage boys, a group of inspired black men – led by B.O.L.D member Rashaun Williams, the youngest BMe Leader in Philly – engaged the youth in a conversation that aimed to foster not only an interest in being mentored or becoming an mentor, but to encourage knowledge transfers between generations that ignite “phresh perspectives.”

BMe Leader Rashaun “DJ Reezey®” Williams asks: “What is manhood?”

BMe Leader Rueben Jones, Founder of Frontline Dads, Fires up The Student Body When He Talks about the Perception of Black Males:

 

Philly Roots Fellow Joshua Rivers, Founder of FOCUSED International, Surprises The Group of Boys With His Introduction.

Many of the students in attendance had never been exposed to this level of discourse with inspired black men. They not only showed their appreciation by being attentive and fully engaged, but they asked for more opportunities to connect and share with black male mentors.

In a room full of more than fifty black teenage boys, a group of inspired black men – led by B.O.L.D member Rashaun Williams, the youngest BMe Leader in Philly – engaged the youth in a conversation that aimed to foster not only an interest in being mentored or becoming an mentor, but to encourage knowledge transfers between generations that ignite “phresh perspectives.”

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What those young black teenager boys saw last Friday is something I’m privileged to witness almost every day – black men working together to build strong communities.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™

About the Author: A Philly Drummer playing a Global Beat, Christopher A. Norris is an award-winning journalist, online content producer and professional drummer endorsed by TRX Cymbals. An American businessman, Norris currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Techbook Online Corporation, overseeing a strategic initiative of mobilizing local, regional, national and global communities by encouraging the production, safeguarding and dissemination of diversified contents in the media and global information networks.

Source: Huffington Post

 

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His Story: Oprah Talks Black Men In Hollywood with Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, and Chiwitel Ejiofor

His Story: Oprah Talks Black Men In Hollywood with Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, and Chiwitel Ejiofor

His Story

blackmancan-oprah-image3By Melissa Kimble

This past Sunday night Hollywood’s glow shined brighter than ever as Media Icon Oprah Winfrey sat down with three distinguished actors for Oprah’s Next Chapter on OWN. All on different ends of the spectrum in the industry, Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, and Chiwitel Ejiofor shared their stories of struggle and triumph as actors. But it was their stories of the everyday Black man experience that we don’t always get to see that resonated well with audiences.  While the media provides very little positive images of Black men and boys, the Queen of daytime television shined a light on their humanity by having the healthiest of conversations about love, life, and committing to the greater good. Here are several things Oprah’s platform showed to the world about what we already know and love about black men:

Black Men Love To Be Appreciated. Lady O did not allow one man to grace the couch without plenty of hugs, asking about his life and well-being. She complimented each on their style and attire, asked about their families, and commended each on their breakout roles. During their time together, each of them – who have all been featured on People’s Sexiest Man List – were showered with admiration and soaked up every bit of it.

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Black Men Want Our Input. As black women, the latest news report will make us think that we’re on opposite sides at all times with black men. Oprah’s Next Chapter allowed us to see the only woman in the world who could upstage this collective, offer up advice on healing and grief with Idris, upholding relationship standards with Michael, and adjusting to the spotlight with Chiwitel. Each accepted her wisdom with respect, compassion, and humility – qualities that make Black men so amazing.

Black Men Do Show Emotion. Speaking candidly about growing up in the industry, Michael B. Jordan spoke highly about the importance of representing Oscar’s story not only for himself but others. The young actor also shared he cried a lot during the filming because of the heavy material especially after the scenes during Oscar’s last moments of life filmed in the exact  spot where Oscar’s death occurred. “We (black males) are labeled as America’s pitbull. So many of us are left for dead. We just wanted to show his humanity.” When Oprah asks Idris if he’s taken the time to grieve over the loss of his father (who died in September of this year), he admits that if he did, he may “fall apart”. This health dialogue about emotions wrapped in transparency and vulnerability on the small screen was heartfelt and touching – a side we don’t get to see often.blackmancan-oprah-image1

Black Men Are Connected to Their History. As the trio has proven with their breakout roles in this year’s A Long Walk To Freedom, Fruitvale Station, and 12 Years A Slave, they are not just sharing these historic stories, they are champions for what these stories represent. “I didn’t want to go through something like this and not fully understand,” Chiwitel shared about preparing for his role as Solomon Northup. The interview being filmed the week before Mandela’s death, Idris shared that after portraying the iconic leader he adopted Mandela’s humility.

Full of love, pride, and admiration, this episode allowed mainstream to witness the side of Black men that often gets overlooked and pushed into the sides in favor of dark statistics and stories. Thank you Oprah, for the light.

Visit the official site for Oprah’s Next Chapter to view footage of this special episode: http://www.oprah.com/own-oprahs-next-chapter/Oprahs-Next-Chapter-Idris-Elba-Chiwetel-Ejiofor-Michael-B-Jordan

About The Author: As an Engagement Strategist and Content Creator, Melissa Kimble is the owner of The 3178 Agency and My Creative Connection, a website dedicated to connecting women and men of color.

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His Story: Putting the ‘Man’ in Mandela: A Tribute (1918-2013)

His Story: Putting the ‘Man’ in Mandela: A Tribute (1918-2013)

His Story

No slight to women in the anti-apartheid movement, but one of the more interesting aspects of Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary legacy is that he helped found the Bantu Men’s Social Centre at 26 years old. Note the word “men” is key. Mandela knew that transformation in a society is facilitated by strong MEN at the helm. He started that in 1944.

Now 70 years later America’s men could use that splash of cold water on the state of its manhood these days. We aren’t talking chest thumpers and designer gear name-dropping idiots. We are talking about male revolutionaries in the home. The fathers, the workers, the men who see so much injustice that they are compelled to come together, as Mandela and the Bantu Club did and DO SOMETHING.

And like all men, Mandela had his faults – he had quite a few wives. He had quite a few questionable violent tactics after seeking nonviolent solutions. But like all men, he became his most gracious, most wonderful, MOST powerful self after suffering enduring circumstances and breaking through the other side of his lengthy Robben Island imprisonment as an all true man. The arc of Mandela’s life is a testament to all people, but specifically to all men that the Revolution requires an EVOLUTION of one’s soul after trial, error and hardship.

In short and to put it more direct and bluntly, we men must stay in the fight. No matter if that fight is grandiose or mundane. No job? Don’t leave your family. Fight. Acquire skills. Get better. Fight. Don’t feel respected? Fight. Get stronger. Be better prepared. Be an honest person and EARN that respect. FIGHT!

Mandela wasn’t a perfect leader. He wasn’t even a perfect man. But he learned. Adapted. Was broken down only to come back stronger. Better. WISER.

mandelaThe world doesn’t need more Nelson Mandelas. As my father said to my mom when he named his sons, “We don’t need another me. There is only one me. Let these boys be whoever THEY are.”

The Old Man, as he so often did, got it right. Men must stake their claim to the world and carve out their own identity. If we don’t we perish in ineptitude. We don’t need another man like Mandela.

The world needs more men, period.

God bless you, Madiba. Indulge in that great Travelers’ Rest. Your Revolution is over.

For a world littered with countless broken men, our Revolution is just beginning.

About the Author: J. Shawn Durham I’m a writer/journalist/social critic who mines topics that challenge the conventional wisdom of the Zeitgeist. I’m a vet of newspapers – The Durham Herald-Sun (N.C.) and The Athens Banner-Herald (Ga.) – magazines and blogs. My career has spanned two decades and I have penned numerous works that probe politics, sports and yes, even the war between the sexes. My debut novel, “The Broke Brothers’ Revolution”(The BBR for short, and is currently being taught in Marriage & Family Therapy course as well as a Human Sexuality class at Georgia Southern University), is a provocative, refreshingly honest, male-centric look at how both men and women woefully play the expectations game when it comes to sex and courtship. But what begins as a satirical take on the standard “he said/she said” fare pivots into a meaningful treatise on the current state of manhood in the 21st century and blah, blah, blah. To be blunt with you, I’m just tired of our men being feckless, spineless wimps. Fellas, put down the lattes and, for God’s sake, BUTCH UP! So read my blog, http://www.thebrokebrothersrevolution.com/ Tweet me up @TheBrokeBrosRev and drop me a line.

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Positive Black Male News: Minneapolis man enrolls over 200 Dropouts back in school

Positive Black Male News: Minneapolis man enrolls over 200 Dropouts back in school

Positive Black Male News

wesleyby Donald W.R. Allen, II – Editor in Chief, The Independent Business News Network

Minneapolis, MN (IBNN/Education Engagement/October 15, 2012)…With things being as they are you can hear and read all kinds of stories about all kinds of things on any given day. U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan has made many direct comments about the severity of the dropout epidemic. He said, “States and district officials have largely tinkered in these schools, instead of treating them as educational emergencies. But children only get one chance at an education. We cannot be content with the status quo; and we cannot be content to continue tinkering.”

What is different about this story is it is the first time I have ever heard of anything like this. Wesley Smith known to students and parents as “Mr. Smith” started recruiting students for private and charter schools as a way to generate revenue to support his family and assist the community in building a pipeline back to education called, Drop Outs to Drop Ins.

Smith talked to IBNN about his work in the very beginning: “It was mostly temporary contracts to increase enrollment for schools with K-8 students, in the process of performing this body of work I would often run into high school drop outs who had no direction and felt as though because they had dropped out of school that they were like lepers – so I would give them my number and ask them to call me. After getting several calls from these kids I started to go to different high schools and ask them about re-enrollment of students, some were receptive and some were not. So where the former student could not re-enter the standard school system I would refer them to an alternative or charter school – some of these schools even contracted me to recruit students for them.”

In 2012, Smith is more interested in what method of contact he employed and who would step up to assist him, in most cases for no pay. His concern was effective outreach can only be accomplished when the communication is just as effective.

The disparity in dropouts, especially those student of color have created the following statistics:

1) Every year, over 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States alone. That’s a student every 26 seconds – or 7,000 a day. 2) More than a quarter of high school freshmen fail to graduate from high school on time. 3) On average, only 58% of students in America’s 50 largest cities make it to graduation. 4) More than one in four Hispanic youth drop out, and nearly half leave by the eighth grade. 5) Hispanics are twice as likely as African Americans to drop out. 6) White and Asian American students are least likely to drop out. 7) In the last 20 years, the earnings level of dropouts doubled, while it nearly tripled for college graduates. 8) Recent dropouts will earn $200,000 less than high school graduates, and over $800,000 less than college graduates, in their lives. 9) Dropouts make up nearly half the heads of households on welfare. 10) In the U.S., high school dropouts commit about 75 percent of crimes. 11) The dropout problem is likely to increase substantially through 2020 unless significant improvements are made.

America’s high school graduation rate ranks 19th in the world – forty years ago, we were number one. It’s a sad commentary to where we are in 2012.

(Sources: Strong American Schools, Underlying Causes of High School Dropouts, Kid Source Online: New Information on Youth Who Drop Out, and The Silent Epidemic).

For instance, it is hard for them to hear you if they are hungry, and you have to be willing to ask them as well as feed them sometimes.

Mr. Smith and his work attracted the attention of film director Robert Townsend, who came to Minneapolis to meet Mr. Smith and to screen his new film “In The Hive”(A true story) which is about teen-age boys who could not make it in the traditional school system and was afforded another opportunity in a charter school started by a woman who cared. “I wanted to meet her because there are not enough schools to house these kids who are willing to take a chance on non-traditional schools, ” said Smith.

The Drop Outs to Drop Ins Project that was endorsed by Mr. Robert Townsend on his visit to the Twin Cities. Smith spent four-days with Mr. Townsend who was such an inspiration to him. He told me that this body of work was meant for me to do and being that I conceived this concept it is up to me to save and build lives, and after Smith viewing Robert Townsend’s film, In the Hive, he knew that he must continue to move forward, because this film in itself will save thousands of lives.

When asked how does he (Smith) meet the need of the dropouts he encounters, without funding, Smith’s says, “Drop Out to Drop Ins Project will become a national model to address the problem that plagues young our people – not being in school. If I keep doing the work, success will follow, I’m confident about that.

IBNN asked him if it pays well to do what he does? “If I have a contract with a school I can make a little money, but most of the time when I get calls form young people is when I don’t have a contract, and I have to provide them with the same service for free,” said Smith who went on to say, “Yes you have to not only take their phone call because 9 out of 10 times they got my number from someone else. I have to pick them up or meet them somewhere to talk about their life and future. The issues around their dropping out of school range from simple to bazaar, however I have developed relationships with many different social service workers and agencies as well as went to many workshops, classes, and training meetings which enables me to better work with all parties that are or could be involved.” Smith has delivered over 200 students back to school.

Smith talks about the tracking of dropouts. “Well for the first year or so I was not counting and someone asked me how many students have I re-enrolled and I could not give a number because there had been many. So I started counting in 2009 and my 200th student has graduated and was a scholarship recipient – her boyfriend had only a couple of credits to make up and should be graduating this winter (2012). I want to take Drop Outs to Drop Ins to the next level and inspire students to return to school and go to college to fulfill dreams of theirs as well as their parents. Nobody wants to be a failure; however having another chance creates a better opportunity for success. I want to work with anyone who wants to see these students make it in life; there just are not enough schools to accommodate these returning students.”

Wesley Smith has the national model with proven track record that it works. He tells IBNN, “The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary

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Positive Black Male News: A 21-Year-Old College Student Is About To Become The Youngest Member Of The Mississippi House

Positive Black Male News: A 21-Year-Old College Student Is About To Become The Youngest Member Of The Mississippi House

Campus Kings

imageBy: PETER JACOBS

Tulane University senior Jeramey Anderson turns 22 on Friday — the same day he will be sworn into the Mississippi House of Representatives, making him the youngest member of the legislative body.

The Tulane student won the seat after a general election against the candidate backed by the local Democratic Party, even though Anderson had led the Democratic primary.Anderson took 60% of the vote in Tuesday’s election, the Sun Herald reports.

According to the Associated Press, Anderson is studying homeland security and public relations at Tulane, and has made arraignments with the school’s dean to continue his education online when the House is in session.

Anderson told the Sun Herald that he believes education is the most important issue he’ll face.

“We focus too highly on standardized testing .. We teach students to memorize the answers to specific questions and ideas, but what we don’t teach them is how is they got those answers. We need to get back to the foundation of understanding why things are what they are,” he said.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook and Twitter

Source: Business Insider

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Positive Black Male News: Good Samaritan teaches homeless man computer coding

Positive Black Male News: Good Samaritan teaches homeless man computer coding

Positive Black Male News

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

by Scott Stump. TODAY

One day software engineer Patrick McConlogue was walking to work in New York City when he decided to make an unorthodox offer to a homeless man.

He approached Leo Grand, who lives on the streets, and gave him a choice: $100, or a laptop and the opportunity to learn how to write computer code. Along with the second choice McConlogue pledged to spend an hour a day for two months teaching Grand a valuable job skill.

“I came to an immediate decision,’’ Grand told TODAY Monday. “The hundred dollars will last you for a short time. Learning how to code will last you for a lifetime.”

So McConlogue, 23, bought Grand, 37, a laptop and three textbooks, and began teaching him the language of computers. It was a lifeline for Grand, a computer lover who said he’s been sleeping in shelters for two years since the rent at his former apartment shot up and he was evicted.

Grand has proven to be an apt student under McConlogue’s tutelage. “The speed at which I’m going through these lessons is insane,’’ McConlogue told TODAY. “We barely cover things twice. His memory is really, really good.”

Click here to read more.

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His Story: Black on Black Crime: #LightSkin Vs #DarkSkin

His Story: Black on Black Crime: #LightSkin Vs #DarkSkin

His Story

History has taught Black America many things but the most relevant and detrimental is the impact of psychological enslavement. The idea of being oppressed without an individual laying hands on you is what keeps Black America in the state of status quo self- hate. I wrote a piece on Black on Black crime and I asked how do we end this epidemic and I received great responses. Recently, I overheard a conversation about Light Skin vs. Dark skin. This has become popular in recent times due to videos on Vine and other media outlets. The basis of the conversation is centered on people light skin being viewed as a blessing and dark skin is a basically a curse. Numerous thoughts ran through my head, like should I take out my belt? But that would probably result in me being forcefully put on the other side of my desk at my job as a federal case manager. The next two thoughts that popped into my head were: (1) when did black people become the slave masters that oppress other blacks and (2) Did the theory of the curse of Ham come back into the forefront? Black on Black crime has moved beyond the violence, which is still a crucial issue, to the psychological aspect. We are keeping an outdated ideology alive every time we hashtag our skin color. #Teamlightskin vs. #Teamdarkskin is what psychological enslavement looks like in the age of vining and self-hating.

The idea of slaves out-numbering slave masters on a plantation but refusing to over take and free themselves by any means necessary always startled me when I was learning about slavery, but it was not until I learned the psychological aspect of making a slave that things became clear. People commonly attach the making of a slave to Willy Lynch, but we now know that he was a fictional character. The means of breaking down an individual remains true. Make them hate themselves more than we ever could is the means of breaking down an individual. As I sat and listened to this conversation I was not only frustrated by the hierarchy that black people and society as a whole placed on the color of ones skin but how it has created a generation of youth that are only concerned with the look of the world and not the seeds that grew into racism. As I watch Vine videos it puts into perspective the value we place on our own history. We were enslaved because of the color of our skin and our unfamiliarity with the cultural norms the original colonies established.

The violence is not brutal but viral and spreading like wild fire. Malcolm X warned our grandparents about our inability to love ourselves more than we love the people who are perpetuating the crimes against us. This is the outcome of the second-class citizenship that we accepted.  This is the outcome of allowing our history to be taught to us through the eyes of racists. This is the outcome of wanting a desegregated lunch counter and not our own diner. This is the outcome of allowing corporate to steal hip- hop and this is the outcome of not having a strong family structure. Light skin vs. Dark skin has to stop because we are continuing to preserve an ideology that said everything darker than white skin is evil. So before you watch the next Vine, Worldstarhiphop, etc. video just remember that blacks both #lightskin and #darkskin were all strung up the same tree.

About the Author:

Mr. Sharif Rasheed graduated from Wright State University with a degree in Sociology. He is the youngest person to be honored with the university program’s ‘Outstanding

Alumni Award.’ He periodically goes back to lecture to students about  psychological slavery, the black male image and the effects of hip-hop on today’s society.

Mr. Rasheed has a background working with troubled youth and drug addicts. He has worked with both male and female juveniles. He uses his experiences to enhance his writing today. He has been featured on sites like ‘Urban Media Today,’ ‘Pittsburgh Urban Media,’ ‘The Soul Pitt,’ and an original piece was also published in ‘LA RAW’ Magazine.

He is also locally involved with his community in the city of Pittsburgh. In 2012, he held a ‘Black Dolls Rock’ toy drive that donated black dolls to young girls whose parents are incarcerated. He also previously held a ‘Save the Youth’ rally that attracted media attention and was seen on the local news.

Mr. Rasheed’s thinking comes from a very relatable place that reminds you of the power we all hold within ourselves. His passion extends from personal experience and his heart is all from his mother, who he gives his greatest accolades to.

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His Story: Being a Young Black Man in America

His Story: Being a Young Black Man in America

His Story


1Hood Media participants explore what it means to be a young Black man in America.

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His Story: Meet Some Really Dangerous Black Men!

His Story: Meet Some Really Dangerous Black Men!

His Story

The story of four Black men who fought against the negative generalizations, stereotypes, and statistics to prove that Black men can succeed academically. Please visit their website http://www.journeytothetable.com for more information about their story

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His Story: There are Black men who still love Black women!

His Story: There are Black men who still love Black women!

His Story

blackloveart18

There is a belief that Black men, especially those who are successful, are no longer interested in Black women and that they desire women of other races. This thought process is perpetuated by the many brothas who work in Hollywood, the music industry, and professional sports that are dating women of other races. This thought is further validated through the number of college-educated brothas with great jobs who choose to date outside of their race.

Despite these public images which suggest that Black men are not interested in Black women, I can assure you that there is a large group of brothers who still love our Black queens. The media has never given our Black sistas a true platform to be appreciated and loved, so to expect that they would allow successful Black men to be seen with beautiful Black sistas would be wishful thinking. Outside of a few well-known couples, you hardly see Black couples on television (unless they are divorcing or in an unhealthy reality-show relationship).

As a successful Black man who is married to a beautiful Black queen, I would not have it any other way. A majority of my close friends, whom are all successful Black men, are either searching for, dating, or married to beautiful Black women. My purpose for writing this article is to say that we are out here sistas and we still love and appreciate you. Although some of us are married and are no longer available, there are a lot of good single brothas in the world.

By no means am I against interracial relationships. Actually, it is my belief that every person should be with the one who makes them happy. My stance is that I strive to promote positive Black love because most of the major media platforms do not depict Black love in a positive light, nor do they give significant air time to successful Black couples.

As a race we have to do a better job of showcasing our love for each other. This means that as Black men, we need to make sure that we verbally express our love and appreciation for our sistas and display it through our actions. For Black women, this means that you have to trust and believe that there are good brothas in this world and you cannot generalize us all as being unsupportive and unloving. If we work together, we can rebuild what society has been trying to take away from us….healthy Black love.

About the Author: Dr. Corey Guyton is a dynamic speaker, blogger, author, and husband who is on a mission to bring back the essence of healthy relationships. Alongside his wife, Dr. Chutney Guyton, their movement has gained momentum and they strive daily to be an example of positive Black love. Follow Dr. Guyton on twitter! @coreyguyton

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His Story: The King Has Fallen by Kofi Genfi

His Story: The King Has Fallen by Kofi Genfi

His Story

The King Has Fallen is an excerpt from a short story series “Eve | A Tale of Torn Souls.” In the film we find a modern day king overwhelmed by his own inner turmoil, reduced to nihility. He falls in love with a woman who does not fully love herself, rendering him jaded. For the first time in his life he has no control over who he is and spirals out of control after being utterly heartbroken. The downfall of this man has been directed by his misguided love and unwillingness to move on. In the end, his dysfunctional love affair leads to his ultimate demise.
“Desperate hearts can never harvest on desolate land.” – Kofi Genfi
Online Release: Summer 2013
Trailer can be streamed below
Youtube
 
Credits:
Director/ Writer/ Starring: Kofi Genfi
Editor/ Co-Director: Omari Oneal
Leading Lady: Misha Bernier
Make-up Artist/ Stylist: Sisi Nike
Photography: Sir Thelonious
Creative Consultant: Joseph Johnson
Creative Consultant: Leke Alomaja
Styling Assistant: Christina Dennis
Production Assistant: Arielle Maracheau
Music: Ian Grey
Marketing Team: Villains Unite
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His Story: Building Dream Infrastructure for Young Men of Color

His Story: Building Dream Infrastructure for Young Men of Color

His Story

 

nadia2I have two younger brothers. One is a senior in college, majoring in business. The other is taking some time off after high school and working more than 50 hours a week at a pizza restaurant while he saves for school, weighing a degree in music (he plays a mean accordion, among many other instruments) or something more ‘stable’. They are both good, smart ‘kids’ who were taught, as I was, that if they worked hard, opportunities would be available to them. The world was their oyster. They still believe that. Mostly.

Unfortunately, they know the statistics about young men of color, young men like them, all too well. 47% will not graduate high school on time. One in three will go to prison in their lifetime. 57% are being raised without fathers. These factors are all serious barriers in terms of being gainfully employed with sufficient income and assets to thrive in America. While my brothers aren’t always viewed through these lenses, I have witnessed occasions when others’ low expectations of them have chipped away at their belief that the world was theirs for the taking. And, for many others—young men who do not have the multitude of supports and shields that my brothers have–it is less a chipping away and more a full-scale demolition.

 

Recently, Living Cities signed on to a philanthropic alliance dedicated to addressing problems facing boys and men of color. As the alliance gets its legs, I attended a ‘Gathering of Leaders’– foundation staff, educators, youth, policymakers, non-profit leaders, grassroots organizers, and others focused on moving the needle on these issues. Together this diverse group of stakeholders met for three days in Detroit to share knowledge, work towards developing collective strategies, and to prepare the group to mobilize and act. For many in attendance, these issues are not just what they work on every day, but are also deeply personal. The conversation was urgent. Here are three things I heard:

 

1: To achieve our dreams, we must first build ‘dream infrastructure’
While there is no doubt that we need to do better in terms of physical access to quality education and quality jobs for all young people, particularly low-income people and people of color; we also have to do better in terms of helping them to believe that those things are for them in the first place. For communities who have often been excluded from many mainstream opportunities, it is not enough to invest in physical infrastructure, we must also invest in what I’m calling ‘dream infrastructure’. This might include building social capital in communities to better connect youth (physically and virtually) to support networks, fostering positive images in the media, and ensuring that there are role models who look like them in classrooms and mentoring programs.

 

2: If we don’t tell our own stories, we become characters in someone else’s
This idea, raised in one of the sessions I attended, generated a lot of conversation. It became increasingly clear that in order to achieve better outcomes, we must change the narrative. For example, though celebrating successes in minority communities is important, the stereotypical story of Asian-Americans as a ‘model minority’ means that this racial community is often overlooked in policy conversations around key challenges such as access to quality education and poverty alleviation—challenges that many Asian Americans struggle with. And, negative stereotypes of young African-American men manifest in the very policies that seek to address the stereotypes. Rather than removing barriers to opportunity, some of these programs are perpetuating falsehoods (e.g. that African-American men are ‘dangerous’). Boys and men of color are not one- size- fits- all characters, but rather have a richness of experience and voice that if harnessed can help individuals and organizations working towards systems change to better understand realities and design interventions.

 

3: Collaboration is key
The challenges facing men and boys of color are huge, and have their roots in 400 years of disenfranchisement. If we are going to move the needle on these issues, we will need a critical mass of individuals and organizations to come together to develop a shared vision, set ambitious goals, and identify outcomes that we will track and hold ourselves accountable for. With the coming together of cross-sector leaders across the country, there are signs that a vibrant movement is growing, and we must seize the moment to drive concrete action.

 

Every kid should grow up believing that they can be an accordion player, a business owner, or whatever else they dream of. Even more important is ensuring that every kid has the opportunity to turn those dreams into reality.

Originally Posted on: Living Cities.org

nadiaAbout the Author: As a Senior Knowledge & Organizational Development Associate, Nadia works closely with the CEO and Chief of Staff on organizational development, strategic planning, and special projects. She also manages and supports a variety of activities to advance Living Cities’ knowledge and communications strategy focused on fostering the spread of experimentation and adoption of promising approaches to move the needle for low income people in US cities.

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