This past Saturday we hosted our second annual Black & Proud to Be College Bound conference, the College Bound Brotherhood’s signature opportunity to bring together young men from throughout the region to learn additional information about college readiness and career potential. Justin will report more later on the day’s wonderful proceedings, but in short it was mighty inspiring and encouraging to see the collection of middle and high school young black men interacting with black tech entrepreneurs, educators, and each other.
Some of the young men came dressed in Hoodies, sporting starter caps with compressed locks sprouting from the sides. Based on looks alone, one unfamiliar with the intelligence and warmth of these fellows could’ve easily stereotyped them as threatening, as “thugs.” Hell, even the well-but-casually dressed could be mistaken in the same fashion. So even in the midst of this terrific gathering, it was heartbreaking to think about the recent slaying of Florida teen Trayvon Martin in this context, and the fact that any of these young men, in the wrong place, time, and eyes, could have been in Trayvon’s shoes. Why? Because young black men continue to be thought of as potential criminals rather than seen as worthy of our care and investment. And sure, I’ll even concede that too many brothas have internalized this hateful narrative and become the monster on their backs, causing a Catch-22 conundrum of sorts. But as with Trayvon, who hears their cries for help?
I’m here to pray for justice in the Trayvon Martin case (which has been painful to follow), and to fight for everyday justice by recognizing, encouraging, and celebrating the growth potential for these young men in the College Bound Brotherhood and beyond. THEY ARE WORTH OUR POSITIVE ATTENTION, and deserve much better than they’re getting.