USA Today Repost: Black Youth Better Than the Headlines Say

This piece ran in today’s USA Today in an effort to promote both DC Public Schools new Emerging Men of Color program and Step Afrika’s upcoming Home Performance Series which begins tonight and runs through Sunday at Howard University.

Read the excerpt below and follow the link to read the entire piece. Leave a comment here or on USA Today’s site, and consider attending Step Afrika!’s performance if you are in the D.C. area and share the link to this blog post.

Indeed, perceptions of our young men of color need to change. The only way to do that is to stray away from those negative stereotypes and communicate directly with our kids. Let them know we are not afraid of them, nor should they be afraid of us.

Read the piece authored by D.C. single parent Christopher Tate:

photo Patrick Smith/Getty Images/USA Today

photo Patrick Smith/Getty Images/USA Today

“For the past year and longer, America and the rest of the world have been inundated with imagery depicting our black boys and men as violent and frightening, or even victims. In my generation, it was Rodney King and Amadou Diallo. Today, we know of scores of men who, after serving 20-year prison sentences, have been cleared for crimes they did not commit.

“It’s a shame that so many of our men of color are receiving negative press, being targeted and treated unequally. It’s a shame that so many bleak statistics swarm our lives — statistics like one in three black men will touch the criminal justice system at some point in their life. We should instead be inundated with positive stats that highlight our achievements, such as a 2013 Education Week report that noted the high school dropout rate for African-American males actually has hit a historic low. Or my personal favorite: the National Science Foundation’s findings that 33.4% of African Americans who earned doctorates in 2008 had a father who graduated college.

“I wish more people could hear his story. I wish more could hear the stories of the nine other young men from Washington, D.C., who attended the trip. Better yet, I wish more could hear the positive stories of our young males of color from across this nation who are making efforts, despite the odds, to move beyond the statistics and stereotypes. Maybe if our community policing efforts involved getting to know our youths, there would be a different dynamic between police and residents. Maybe if our overall community outreach was more centered around truly knowing our neighbors and the community at large, things would be different and our history could finally change for the better. And just maybe this will help our young men aspire not just to 15 minutes but a lifetime of fame earned through hard work and dedication to both study and community.”

Continue reading here.

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