By Ryan Velez
It’s very common, whether you are reading a magazine or watching the news, to hear much of the statistics coming out about young Black and Latino men being negative. Whether it is regarding violence or other similar numbers, it’s easy to get concerned or depressed in the face of such numbers. However, Black Enterprise reports that one organization is hard at work to try and reframe the narrative, making sure that the positive gets just as much limelight as the negative.
Trabian Shorters, founder and director of the BMe Community, explains that his organization has “over 22,000 members, offices in six cities, brand about 200 events a year, and have funded 165 black men called ‘BMe Leaders.'” These leaders work to educate children, protect the streets, as well as work towards economic opportunities and work towards justice in minority communities.
Perhaps there may be a bit more of a tide headed in this new, constructive direction. A recent article published in Education Week has described the work of Professor Tyrone Howard of the UCLA Graduate School of Education. In conjunction with his team of researchers, he has created the Counter Narrative Project. This zeroes in on young men of color who are succeeding. At the moment, it is focusing on exploring and highlighting the success of young men in Los Angeles.
According to Howard, it “takes an unapologetic stance in stating that there are young men of color who are thriving in their homes, taking on leadership roles in their schools, and making a difference in their communities.” The Counter Narrative Project observed and conducted interviews with over 200 Black and Latino males attending high school in urban Los Angeles. Not only does it tell tales of intelligence, caring, and resilience in these communities, but also tell some facts that often get left off of mainstream portrayals. For example, the average grade point average for these young men was 3.6. Many were headed to college, and several played leadership roles in their families, schools, and communities. Notably, none had ever been arrested, and several held jobs to support families.
One thing that both Howard and Education Week point out is that the intent is not to minimize some of the negative issues in these communities. Issues like higher unemployment and the educational achievement gap are prevalent and deserve our attention. However, a complete story is key to make sure that we understand that people are trying on their own to succeed.