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The Village is on Fire! Where are the Firefighters?

The Village is on Fire! Where are the Firefighters?

Susan Taylor, the esteemed founder and dynamic leader of Cares Mentoring, reminds us that the village is on fire. But, with equal passion she reminds us that we are the firefighters who can put out the blaze before it completely consumes everything and everyone in its path.

The fire from my vantage point has already consumed the hopes, dreams, and promise of far too many young Black and Brown boys and men, and increasing numbers of young women and girls of color. Since Covid’s horrific attack, life as it used to be no longer exists.

The new norm has created a plethora of disruptions to the patterns of our lives. Unfortunately for the vulnerable who have been traditionally marginalized and underserved, a terrible toll of pain and even deeper devastation is being exacted on their lives.

Evidence of this damage appears daily on the nightly news. There is a seismic rise in school fights and incidents in our communities that lead to angry disputes followed by gunfire and deadly consequences.

Pandemic school closings have exacerbated the emotional and social depression within both students and those charged with their education. The rates of depression, suicide, and social media-fueled arguments among our youth have risen and ignited violence at an alarming rate. The village is on fire.
Given the flames spreading within the context of this biological pandemic, I ask myself, what can COSEBOC do to put out the firestorms in our communities? I submit that we can play a vital role in extinguishing the blaze. COSEBOC answers the challenge of restoring the affirmative identities and the future success of boys and young men of color with a proven track record. We have an authentic history of service in advancing the social, emotional, cultural, and academic development of boys and young men of color.

COSEBOC remains committed to the sincere involvement of families and communities invested in the wellbeing of their children and youth. Together, we will extend the call for other like minded organizations to join us in quenching the fires in our communities. COSEBOC will battle the conflagration which threatens the learning and development of boys and young men of color in school and society settings by equipping dedicated adults in service with a unique array of tools.

The first is our foundational document, The Un-Common Core, Standards and Promising Practices for Schools Educating Boys of Color. This tool will provide a strong and protective firewall of culturally responsive actions, activities, and resources essential for the affirmative development of boys and young men of color.

The next two tools will provide adult facilitators with a deep understanding and appreciation of our approach for ushering boys into manhood by re-experiencing their own answer to the call to serve and by recognizing the personal and professional experience trials that they have endured and overcome. In turn they will lead young men of color through their personal rite of passage.

These two firefighting tools, Developing Rituals Understanding Manhood, or D.R.U.M. and Footprints and Footsteps will enable, empower, liberate, and immunize boys and young men from the “negative mindset virus” that diverts boys and young men of color from their pathway to success.

In the midst of the flames, we must never lose sight of the innate desires within our boys and young men of color who not only want to take a role in putting out the flame, but also to be leaders in the rebuilding of our communities. This is evident in our work with a group of 30 young men who are juniors and seniors at Westlake High School in Waldorf, Maryland. We are supporting this group of young men who decided that they want to be the catalyst for change in their school and in their community. We are helping them establish the mission, vision, and values for a student organization called Elite Black Men.

COSEBOC knows that the fire has already taken a toll, not only psychically but also physically, economically, and educationally on all of our children and youth. Yet, we believe that it can and must be defeated. We believe that children and youth are our future and if we care, protect, nurture, and educate them well, they will lead the way.

I agree with Susan Taylor. We are ourselves the firemen and firewomen that we’ve been waiting for. We can extinguish the fire in our village. Now is the time. Tomorrow is too late. Join with COSEBOC today, www.coseboc.org.

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