I’ve been asking myself these questions lately. For years we have been exposed to “plight of the black man” messaging. I question the psychological impact this has had on young black men. Let’s be clear: I’m not a psychiatrist and by no means inferring I’m qualified to offer any medical opinions. What I will say is I find it hard to believe that negative messaging has not had an effect on these young men.
If you do a Google search for “black male initiative programs” you will find a plethora of organizations committed to the development of black men. Even our federal government is involved with the launching of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative. Has it come this far that our president needs to step in and help “fix” young black men? In our zeal to help have we contributed to lowering their self esteem?
“President Obama is taking action to launch My Brother’s Keeper – a new initiative to help every boy and young man of color who is willing to do the hard work to get ahead. For decades, opportunity has lagged behind for boys and young men of color. But across the country, communities are adopting approaches to help put these boys and young men on the path to success.”
I applaud all of these organizations for the great work they’re doing. They have been instrumental and necessary for many young men. Their efforts are the socially responsible thing to do given the circumstances.
“What haunts me is that for every success we have, there are probably 100 other kids who could be successes but never had the opportunity,” ….”I hope this opened people’s eyes: Kids, given the chance, will excel, whatever their economic background, whatever their race.”
We may not be able to boil an ocean but we can take the first step by changing the way we talk about our young men.
Ernest R. Heyward is the Founder and President of the Marketplace for Social Awareness and Social Responsibility.
The Marketplace is an educational and charitable organization formed for the purpose of promoting and supporting programs, initiatives, and events that address the needs of culturally diverse and economically challenged youth.
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