Community leaders are helping young black men focus on their strengths amid the challenges they face in a post-Obama society, struggles that have been going on for decades.
The shooting death of Timothy Thomas in 2001 was the precipice of an all-too-common story. Thomas, 19, an unarmed black teenager, was chased by white police and shot to death in Cincinnati. This incident was only the beginning of highly publicized shootings of black men at the hands of police officers. For the black community, the threat of police abuse has simply become a part of life.
In addition, the event underscored the uphill battle that young black men struggle to overcome due to negative stereotyping, racial profiling, and discrimination — many times resulting in violence and death.
Specific types of interventions and programs
Locally, there are also efforts are underway to turn this negative situation around and to give young men more opportunities to thrive. Forever Kings is a nonprofit organization that exists to challenge the social norms, explicit biases, and stigmas associated with boys and young men of color.
“Explicit biases and stigmas are what I believe one of the main reasons that young men struggle to succeed in life,” says founder Jordan A. Bankston. “Often times society already has pre-judged young men before ever truly even getting to know them or what’s inside of them.”
“Systemic bias is another cause,” he continues. “Our social and educational systems are not designed for young black men to succeed. Our social system makes it difficult for young black men to get ahead and experience success.”
Forever Kings focuses on different ways that parents, teachers, businesses, and community institutions can facilitate the growth of these young people. They are hosting several community events to engage young men of color and will also host monthly kickbacks for young men to simply come and hang out.
They create a space for young Black men to experience brotherhood that will empower them to redefine, reshape, and reimagine the outcomes for their lives.
“We do this,” Bankston explains, “by providing programs, tools, resources, and exposure they need to take control of their lives and futures. We are presently in the process of building our Boyz II King program that will serve as an empowerment program for young men ages 11–18. In addition, these young men are learning the biases of entrepreneurship and business management.”
“I firmly believe,” Bankston continues, “in the importance of having a village. It is so important for young black men to have a rally of people standing around them and helping to push them into their greatness.”