So far, our capital city, like so many other cities, has preferred to go another way. They have no problem limiting their investment to spending millions of dollars on safety and security strategies that focus on locking up black males and policing them. We spend more money on policing, jail and related services than we do on providing black men with scholarships for college and addressing their unique social circumstances on the front end of their lives. Our black boys are struggling from having no fathers at home and too few positive male role models in their lives who show them real love, build their confidence, teach them healthy values, demonstrate a strong work ethic and hold them accountable (in constructive and inspiring ways) to high standards of personal conduct and performance excellence. Fatherlessness is destroying the future of many black boys — and almost as fast as they come out of the womb.
Besides that, our young men are struggling to define themselves against stereotypes that pervade almost every facet of their lives. They are struggling with negative images America has of them, and the diminished view people have of their potential. Their role models now are Breezy, Yeh, Lil Wayne and a host of other rappers who limit their talents to undermining the talent development of others — except at the microphone. Unfortunately, some of our boys are being raised by 30- and 40-year-old men who see these young rappers as their role models, too.
Additionally, our young men are being raised in a community that doesn’t know what black male success really looks like. Not in mass. We don’t see it very often here, and when we do, we can’t always spot it. We’ve been conditioned to see black males as needy, incapable and unworthy. Unfortunately, that’s what some of our boys then give you — they show you the image that you saw them in. Give me a suit, a tie, a dress shirt, some dress shoes, a book bag, some great books and a place to unleash their creativity and potential, and some men and women who are great teachers, coaches and mentors, and who truly love our young black and brown men and believe in their potential, and I will give you highly confident, determined, purpose-driven and successful black males in return.