The health, wellness, and education of young black males have been a hot issue as of late, locally and nationally. Why has this group warranted so much attention? Simply put, black males have higher dropout rates, lower high school and college graduation rates, and higher incarceration rates than all other racial groups.
So what’s being done to address the issue? Organizations and foundations across the country have been working both independently and collectively to improve the conditions of black youth and deliver them to successful outcomes. Last year, The Schott Foundation released Yes We Can: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males, a state by state detailed report of the graduation rates of black males vs. white males. In the past year there has been several conferences focused on issues related to Black males & youth: Boys and Young Men of Color (BMOC), Black Male Initiative (BMI), Man Up! Conference, and A Dream Deferred.
Two weeks ago, CLASP and the 2025 Campaign for Black Men and Boys teamed up for a webinar entitled We Dream a World: Re-Imagining the Landscape for Black Men and Boys. This one-day discussion, highlighted some of the national efforts transpiring to close the gaps in outcomes for Black youth. Guest speaker Dr. James L. Moore, from the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male at Ohio State University, described education as the biggest civil rights issue to date and emphasized that “we can no longer sit on the sideline and watch African-Americans underachieve and low achieve.” Dr. Moore’s words set the stage for the community panel discussion, which focused on programs being implemented across the country that strictly focused on improving social and educational development of black youth. The webinar also highlighted the report, We Dream a World: The 2025 Vision for Black Men and Boys.
The community panel was composed of individuals from various regions of the country that are involved with organizations that are bringing game changing practices to issues regarding young black men. Greg Hodge, Bay Area resident, education advocate, independent consultant, and co-owner of Community Development Associates, was one of three individuals on this panel. Mr. Hodge led off and quickly dove into the projects that have or are being implemented in Oakland such as the Oakland Brothahood project, a multi-generational collaboration focused on building a mentoring-bridge across generations as well as establishing a rites of passage program for young black men. In addition to the Oakland Brothahood project, Mr. Hodge discussed the African American Male Achievement (AAMA) initiative, a program designed to examine the Oakland Unified School District’s systems, collect research on best practices, and implement its findings into the district’s most vulnerable sites in order to improve outcomes for black males.
Greg Hodge’s presentation represented Oakland well. The responses from the online viewers were positive. One viewer commented, “Something is percolating in Oakland.” Similar sentiments were echoed throughout the presentation; with some even suggesting that the AAMA’s work could serve as a national model for other cities in distress with their black male population.
Local and national organizing efforts currently taking place to improve the conditions of young black men need to be (a) recognized and brought to the attention of the masses and (b) supported by individuals or groups of individuals that have the means by which such efforts can be effective and sustained. It is critical for Oakland and Area residents to stand up and get involved. The greater the effort we put into closing these disparities in health, education, incarceration, and opportunities for young black men, the greater the outcomes of success will be for them and our community.
To get more information on the Oakland Brothahood project please contact Greg Hodge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
photo source: The 2025 Vision for Black Men and Boys