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Young, Gifted, Black and Worried

In the Bible, Job was known for his perseverance while under extreme duress. He once said, “The churning inside me never stops, days of suffering confront me”. As I fast forward to today, I often think about the constant churning that is omnipresent in the lives of black men and boys. There is a constant churning within caused by endless stress that confronts us.

I once had a robust conversation with a white male counterpart comparing and contrasting what it means to be under continual stress as a black man regardless of zip code, station or status. He and I were both middle class professionals with college degrees. We lived in comparable neighborhoods and held respected positions. He was in advertising. I was a principal.

But, I had informed him that the similarities stop when we leave our homes everyday. I am most likely to be stopped by the police, followed when I am browsing in a store and challenged for what I might consider a novel or innovative idea. It was not easy for him to grasp this reality that black men and boys expect on a daily basis.

As the leader of a national organization dedicated to the positive narrative development and education  of boys and young men of color, I am deeply concerned about the tremendous level of stress, anxiety and worry heaped on black men and boys in the 2015.

The consequences represented at the extreme are represented by first names that we come to know too well, Trayvon, Eric, Jordon,Tamir and many others. And we must remember that the history of inordinate violence against black men and boys is nothing new. August 28th 2015 is the 60th anniversary of the brutal murder of a black teenager named Emmett Till. He was 14 years old.

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “Worry” in the following ways; To afflict with mental distress or agitation, concern about something, uneasiness, feeling of dread or fear. Here are two essential questions for your contemplation:

Why  should Black men and boys carry the weight of “worry” each day of their lives?
Why should this particular group lose hope in their ability to reach their full promise?

They should not have to live with the threat of gloom and doom or predictions of an early demise due to violence.

COSEBOC will be celebrating its 10th year continuing to serve the mission to inspire, connect, support and strengthen school leaders who are dedicated to advance the affirmative development and education of boys and young men of color. We will continue to lift our voice on behalf of all students and in particular black men and boys who still too frequently stand under the Sword of Damocles. From our experience of meeting many talented and promising male students, we know that they are gifted and optimistic about their future. They should not have to live their lives being worried about their fate when they leave their homes everyday.