Originally published in 2015, ‘Young Black Men’ still rings in our ears.
“As a person who was raised by a racist parent and learned better in college when I made black friends, I still feel guilty for the pain I inflicted in my ignorance. I’ll never forget where I’ve come from. As long as I live, I carry the burden of expiation. I deeply value what these young men have to teach me.” – from Nutsrok, Linda Bethea of Greenwood Louisiana
from Chicago Illinois,
Gospel Recording Artist AnewDuo w/ Born to Win
The Neighborhood Proudly Presents….
‘Young Black Men’
a generational collaborative of peace respect & love
Baton Rouge Louisiana
In 1968, the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., had no way of knowing that his life would be taken away from him 5 years after he delivered his famous “I had a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I’m guessing it may have crossed his mind that it was possible, it could happen, knowing the mindset of many individuals in the United States back in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Despite these circumstances, Dr. King continued to focus on his goal and his dream of human equality in America. King and many others who aided along the long journey did not live to see his dream come to pass, but we my young brothers as young black men in America today are living his dream.
Our journey to self-discovery, the eight of us embarked on, maintained a clear mission – to define ourselves, as individuals, then unite our voices to speak to and for our generation – it was more complexed then I’d imagine but as I listened and learned of the lives of my brothers, we became more empowered to complete our mission.
“The futures of black men are improving. I feel like we use to be very oblivious to the oppression of black men in America because we are more aware of situations that were not shared with us in the past. In order to truly see change in our future we must first work on a couple of things. Growing up my dad was my role model, he was the definition of a hardworking man, nice, polite, forgiving, caring, and understanding. Today it is very hard to be that man when dealing with my black brothers because their definition of a man is hostile, aggressive, and non-compassionate, which makes it harder to get along with each other. We need more unity. We as black men are not truly unified, and you can see traces of that in all our communities through gang violence and robbery within the radius of where we live. Instead of taking away from each other let’s start investing that energy into building. Let’s start investing in our local politician instead of name brand. Let’s start sharing knowledge and increase black mentors.”
Black men today have many flaws, however, Jay has faith in all of the young brothers in our generation.
Being from Baton Rouge, I have noticed that the young black men of my generation and others, do in fact promote the wrong things and have corrupted the minds of many young people. This is done so most effectively through the form of music. I know Baton Rouge may not be the only place in which this is the case, but from my experiences this is what I have noticed. It’s sad that many individuals would rather promote drugs and violence to stimulate buzz, than to motivate others to want better. Most children grow up doing what they see their parents doing, so as long as we allow them to be around the drugs, alcohol, and violence, they grow up believing these things are right.
“My generation of young black men have
the wrong idea of what living life is” – Cj Bennett
Since graduating college and moving back home, I’ve noticed a lot has changed. More so, I’ve noticed the mindsets of a lot of my friends has changed. One night, I was out in one of the clubs here in Baton Rouge, and over-heard a young black man saying to his friends, “Tonight its either jail or dead.” This really caught my attention because it’s sad that certain people in this world no longer value their own lives. Speaking to one of my young brothers from Philadelphia, C.J. Bennett, he elaborated more on the fact that black men today have the wrong idea of what living life really means.
“Everyone thinks like the music they listen to these days. A lot of our young black men today fail to think for themselves, and in the end they wind up making the wrong decisions. They ultimately put themselves in a situation that’s detrimental to not only their lives, but also the people who love them as well. For instance, this mentality that I have to shoot you if we are beefing. I’m a 90’s baby and when we had beef, before it came to gunplay we settle it with our hands. People these days are more afraid of taking a loss than anything. In my opinion losing a fight is way better than losing my life to the streets or the judicial system. These days the rise of social media has done nothing but add fuel to the fire. Fights, violence, drugs, sex, and money is what we see every day now. If that’s all our people are exposed to then that’s all they will know and want. We as young black men and people in general need to expand our minds and be open to new things, because no change equals no growth”
“Young black men in our generation got to learn self-control and
understand what’s Important and at stake, including myself.” – Aaron Schell
As a man you must know that your reputation is everything. Growing up I was taught that the impression you leave should be an everlasting one. Have you ever sat down for a minute to evaluate yourself, and wondered what others really think when they see you? Ever think about how foreigners view us as Americans, even more specific to the topic, black men? My young brother Shrestha Bibash of Kathmandu, Nepal, also reached out to give his insight on the subject and his experiences with black men in America and his experiences in his country.
“My maternal uncle once said that he bought a Rolex watch for just $200 from black people on the street. My uncle mentioned that he felt he was psychologically forced. Maybe he was afraid that they could fire a gun, or believed that black man could be on drugs and robbed the watch to sell for profit. I also have friends who have studied there and were also robbed by black people.”
Shrestha informed me that this gave him a bad impression. He feels that the good black people are suffering because of this mentality. “One person commits a crime and thousands have to suffer”
“Being black is not a choice, and being white is also not a prize. We all are in the same boat, and such things as racism do not make since at all. We cannot judge people by their look, but by how they are on the inside. So, respect humanity. I for one do not have good knowledge on life as a young black man in America, but I can give some views on how they are from what I have heard from authentic sources. During my college application process, I connected with a lot of people. The first black man I talked to was a graduate of Colorado College, who currently works for google plus. I was shocked that he was ready to help me, and he also connected me with other black people who were also studying at Colorado College. I can say I was fruitfully guided with my application. When I used to write blog, I got connected with a man by the name of Kendall Person. I asked many people for support for blogging, but nobody stood up for me but him. The man out of nowhere for me, stood up and guided me. He even wrote a college recommendation for me as well. From the black people I have encountered, I can say I’ve had good impression.”
Ahmedabad Gujarat India
Questions I often ponder: what’s happening to our young black men today? Are we not as strong willed as the leaders of our past? Is it, we have fallen victim to society or have we allowed it to dictate our decisions on the direction of our lives?
Speaking for a moment with a good friend of mine, Wa’Derrious Sellers better known as Huey P of Monroe, Louisiana, he expressed how he felt about the black men in America today.
Kenderick: What’s up my brother?
Huey P: Nothing much, what’s going on?
Kenderick: Nothing much, quick question for you. I know this a subject that’ll interest you the most because we’ve talked about it in the past
Huey P: What’s good?
Kenderick: In your honest opinion, how do you feel about black men in America today in general?
Huey P: I honestly feel like the real black men of today are nearly extinct. The government and society, fear a strong black man in every shape, form, and fashion. They are trying their best to keep us down in my opinion, and the saddest part is that we are allowing them to do so as a whole. I know you are probably wondering what is my definition of a real black man and to me it’s a black man that is very intelligent, family orientated, and makes sure he provides for his queen and children. He helps his community and others become better individuals, and he makes sure he has and impact on the world in a positive way, leaving behind a great legacy to follow.
I feel the black men of today have fallen victim to racism, socialism, depopulation, and many more detrimental things. I can’t even blame the government and society for all of this because it is partially our fault for letting things get out of hand and go this far. That was the main reason I started looking up to Huey P Newton, because he was fighting against this and fighting for the real black men of today and for the black communities to be successful. Most kids in my generation have no clue of who he is, but I promise before it’s all said and done they will remember both of our legacies and our impact on this world forever. Amen.
from Dublin Ireland, J.P. Kallio with While I’m Here
“I try to project consciousness throughout the minds
of other brothers both young and old,
because it’s too many brothers teaching, glorifying,
and brain washing our children with the wrong message”
– H-Y Loco
Many of our black men these days are noticing this growing problem and beginning to become more conscious of the fact that family unity is what’s most important in life.
“I feel a lot of black men are transitioning to a better understanding of life. Although more men are more lost than found, I really hope to see a bigger change over the years as far as consciousness goes. We as brothers need to educate ourselves, our children, and if we can find one of our strong black women willing to listen, teach her too. Out here we’re all we got”
Baton Rouge Louisiana
We as young black men in America, have already been stamped and stereotyped as thugs, gangsters, etc. Whose fault is this? We live in a generation where appearance is everything. The sagging of the pants, the lack of respect and manners, the use of profanity in any setting, has gained us this stereotype. Though this is the case, it still doesn’t make it right for an individual to be judged by outside appearance. I believe that because a person may not always dress in the best of clothes, wear his pants down a little lower than others, or may even choose to wear a different hair style than the typical low cut, that it is not right that he should be frowned upon for this.
How do we get better? How about instead of giving in to the stereotype as young black men, we help educate our brother. Help him to understand that your appearance speaks, help him to understand that we should act in a manner and speak in a way that is deemed respectable to us. Let’s educate our children, help them to understand what’s right and what’s wrong, and teach them that education is everything. Teach them the history of our country and encourage them to strive for change. Let’s start to raise leaders of the future in this country.
Kendall F. Person, Creator
of The Neighborhood
I have no pretenses of the self-inflicted wounds created by our black young men. But I also comprehend that many wounds are historical and societal, the weight of being viewed as sometimes less than human, can become psychological, embedded with scars so deep that some may believe that, is who they are. But wounds can heal if we open up our minds and listen and teach and reach out with respect & peace.
In this 12 day journey with these incredible eight young men, I have discovered the missing link that pits ‘us’ against ‘them’. Why do they follow me and read what I write? Why do they listen when I chastise them at times? What made them open up their lives, the answer is quite simple: I treat each of them and everyone of their generation with the same respect as I treat everyone else, and in return they treat me with the respect my generation deserves and, that a mentor has earned.
Can we be as openly honest about ourselves as these 8 young men and a woman from yet another generation has been? Please add your voice. Ask questions, make statements and let us build upon what these young men have begun. Let us use our imagination to Think Big.
– Kendall F. Person, thepublicblogger
Welcome to The Neighborhood
‘Young Black Men’
written & directed by Kenderick Johnson aka Lil Ken
developed & edited by Kendall F. Person
produced by The Neighborhood at thepublicblogger.com