A lot of educators in the room. Both the first and second gathering was filled mostly by educators. I’m curious to know what draws us to these events. I’ve also been unsuccessful drawing and maintaining the attention of non education centered folks. What work can I do to better engage this audience?
I’ve realized that this is difficult to do. I was explaining to a friend that I’m entering a new phase in my skillset, in my work. I’m leaving a phase of education and learning via graduate school and learning a new industry and field of education. I’m not in a creation phase. Trying to create an educational vestige in my own image. Its hard. Its overwhelming. It’s humbling. It makes taking constructive criticism so much more difficult to hear and implement. I’m in a space where I’m re-nervous. Re-insecure of my moves and actions.
People wonder why I’m doing this. What’s the mission? What’s the point? I haven’t developed a clear concise answer for them yet. But I know that the space is necessary and so I’m still trying to carve it out and save it while we figure out what language to prop it up and ground it in.
There have been a variety of men who have attended for a variety of purposes. Coming from many different stages of life and hoping to reap various benefits from such a gathering. My mind is focusing on usefulness. Making the space useful and beneficial for the participants. I think we’re getting there. Again I probably need to expose myself to language from other organizers as they worked to define the specs of their work.
Some more positive reflections is that we stuck to our 2-hour agenda window. That felt good considering some of the feedback of our last one was the difficult position we put attendees in when we went over time. Ending on time actually allowed for natural networking to take place at the end between the men in attendance.
Teacher moves are still on point and applicable. I had forgotten a chord to hook my mac up to the University smart board. Luckily there was a computer already in the room, but I didn’t know the password. With about 20 minutes to go I started frantically making flipchart of all the slides. I was just about done with the flipchart and rearranging a few pieces on the agenda when with 2 minutes to spare we got the password for the classroom computer. I made all of the materials available on Google Drive so it was just a matter of signing in an cueing the materials up from there. I felt good knowing that in the time of a crisis I didn’t panic, came up with an alternative plan and rocked with it whole heartedly in the spur of the moment. That’s absolutely what’s needed.
I must say that I was a bit shocked that it was time to have the second gathering. I was overwhelmed with work. Trying to have a somewhat full personal life. Still readjusting from traveling overseas, and… just drained. I had very little time to properly publicize the event. Luckily, I opened a MeetUp group with supported the engagement of interested community members.
I’m excited to work on the publicity in the future as I know it’s not my strongest area. Which is a perfect segue into two of the most pressing pieces of the work to date. Finding a Name for the group, Determining a mission, and Figuring out the proper Branding. This part is the biggest headache. Probably because I have my undergraduate Public Relations training pushing against my Education training. I absolutely know the importance of a strong image and marketing portfolio. However, I feel like that can easily be developed once I have a strong foundation and understanding of my curriculum and community services. It’s the battle of which one do I focus on first.
We express our love through our actions and each action should always be inspired by care and concern.To love is to put the well-being of those you care for on the same level as your own well-being. This society has trained us to put our individualistic desires before the needs of the common folk and that is detrimental to any society. An expression of love is an attempt towards unity. Division is crippling and nothing divided in many parts can ever become one. A divided family, community, corporation, team cannot reach its fullest potential.
Standing vs. Sitting
Sometimes you disgust me. You’ll spend 6 hours in a club in one night but can’t spend a few hours a month helping mold your future. This “I don’t have time to give back” excuse that many of us use is just no longer acceptable.
You’ll brag about how successful you are and how far you’ve climbed the corporate ladder, yet you won’t use any of your time to give the knowledge you’ve acquired to assist others that are in need of the guidance you can provide.
Most of you Black men are probably being underpaid because you do more work than the higher ups are willing to compensate you for. They know they can underpay you because they know that you’re dependent upon them. You’re probably one of the few if not the only Black male at the office so you feel you have to work twice as hard as your meager salary suggests because you want to show boss that you’re not like the “rest of them.”
Nevertheless, you probably trick yourself into saying that you love what you do but deep within you know that there is more to life than your profession. You look at the world and you see how it’s functioning. You see injustices and even if you don’t consciously speak on them, your soul is telling you that something is wrong. Something within you is telling you that you can and should be doing more.
You’re probably afraid of identifying with the youth (who you once were) because you don’t want to be associated with the imperfections of youthfulness and inexperience. You think you’ve made it, but in actuality, the world only sees you as a nigger with a suit on.
You see how our young Black boys are treated by others and unfortunately Black boys have been beaten to the point of devaluing themselves. It hurt you to hear about Trayvon Martin. You may have changed your facebook profile to a picture with you in a hoody to show your support but you knew deep within that there was more for you to do. It pains you to hear about the Black-on-Black killings that have been happening in cities all across the Western-hemisphere.
Every time you feel pain within, your soul is speaking to you and telling you to do more. Your soul is telling you to take your rightful position in your community and in this world. You are supposed to be doing more and you know it. Let’s start with mentoring. We will build off of that.
A Knock at Midnight
Your words may not completely change the minds of those that you mentor but that doesn’t mean that your words won’t influence them. It doesn’t mean that your words won’t challenge his traditional way of thinking. Your presence will positively affect them if you approach them with humility and a willingness to show them that you care.
Many of you say that you haven’t reached the point in life where you feel comfortable with mentoring a child. I respect that concern because that was me. I was a broken male and strongly in need of mentorship myself. Nevertheless, I realized that although I had not reached the level of success I initially deemed necessary for a mentor to have, I did have some knowledge and experience that could be beneficial to someone.
People of other races step up quicker than us to mentor our children. Some of them have been monumental in helping get children to college and I commend them for that. Unfortunately, many of them do it as a means to puff their resume.
No man of another race can ever show a Black boy how to deal within this society as a Black man. You know the very makeup of this society. Its economic, educational, and political systems are adverse to the rise of these Black boys. That in itself should light a spark within you to do more because you know what it feels like to grow up in this world.
I know most of you are hurting internally. You may not want to admit it and you may be afraid to be vulnerable. You’re in pain because many of you never had the opportunity to address some of the issues that have been eating at you for years.
Many of you have never talked about the issues you grew up with as a Black male in this society. You never had a chance to be open and talk about some of the issues that have bothered you for so long. You’re expected to walk around like Supermen on the outside but you are weak and beaten down within. Many of these kids out here today are going through the same issues you were going through 10, 20, or even 30 years ago. Unfortunately, many of our youth don’t have the luxury of support that some of you had when you were growing up.
It is time for you to step up and provide the needed light to a generation that is surrounded by darkness. You are like a candle. The combination of your wisdom, knowledge, and experience is similar to the flame that burns when a candle is lit. The flame can work towards eliminating darkness and it can also light other candles all while remaining lit itself. Your mind, like a burning candle, is light. Use it to enlighten and illuminate the minds of the youth and just watch how your own light will brighten.
Call to action, and mentoring resources:
Imentor – is a school-based mentoring program matching public high school students in New York City in one-to-one relationships with college-educated mentors. iMentor partners with public schools to ensure every student at these schools receives a mentor and to augment existing guidance and college counseling programs. Mentor-mentee pairs are matched for three to four years and exchange weekly emails and meet monthly in person.
Big Brothers Big Sisters – What is every child fulfilled his or her potential? Think how amazing that would be. Now, you can start more LIttles on the path to big things.
Quinton M– Is a graduate of Purdue University currently working for Lukoil Pan Americas. He has served on the Board of Brooklyn CARES Mentoring Movement, and also contributes to the Mentor Advisory Council for iMentor and on the Junior Board of Directors for Urban Pathways.
What if someone told you to build a house in which you would live for the rest of your life? You have no experience in home building and you have absolutely no clue where to begin. However, you are given two options. The first option is to essentially build the house from scratch with little to no help. The only examples you have to use as a guide to building your house are the other surrounding houses that are in whatever particular environment you are in. You are not provided with the tools needed to build the house nor are you provided with the directions needed to construct such a large structure.
The second option is to build the house with as much help as you can possibly have. You’ll have help from people who will bring a vast amount of knowledge of house building to the table. Not one of these experienced builders have houses that are identical to another because each construction project experience was a unique experience.
I assume most sane people would select the 2nd option. I assume most people would want as much help as they can get as they undertake such a challenging task.
Let’s look at it in a different light. Let’s replace the house you’re supposed to build with manhood. As a boy, would one prefer to develop his manhood with help from successful men or would he prefer to do it on his own? Personally, I would prefer assistance.
The Dilemma and the Challenge
As I examine our society (United States of America), I see too many boys having this “every boy for himself” option thrust upon them. Manhood is not given to us by age and seniority but rather it is gained by us with knowledge and work. This concept is evidenced by the plethora of adult males walking around this society with absolutely no idea of how to be a man. Either these men have no knowledge of what manhood truly is or they lack the determination and will to put in the work needed to build their manhood.
These males look great on the outside. They wear the costume of a man flawlessly. A house built by a novice whose only guidance were the surrounding houses in the neighborhood may look great on the exterior; however, the interior and foundation may be weak due to being built incorrectly.
A person may look, dress, and speak like one would assume most men look, dress, and speak. However, you’ll notice that these males are weak internally and that weakness is manifested in their childish and amateur behavior.
Nevertheless, too many boys, especially Black boys, are not being equipped with the proper tools and knowledge needed as they embark on their personal journeys toward becoming the greatest men they can become. This is where I become a huge advocate of mentoring and its power to change the world. Many men want to help and many boys want help.Mentoring allows for a structured environment that lessens the cultural barriers to entry that may exist in the streets and communities.
Susan Taylor, founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement, said that the most revolutionary thing we can do is love one another. We express our love through our actions and each action should always be inspired by care and concern.To love is to put the well-being of those you care for on the same level as your own well-being. This society has trained us to put our individualistic desires before the needs of the common folk and that is detrimental to any society. An expression of love is an attempt towards unity. Division is crippling and nothing divided in many parts can ever become one. A divided family, community, corporation, team cannot reach its fullest potential.
House vs. Field
Much of society vehemently critiques our boys for not behaving in a manner that they believe men are supposed to behave in. Some of the most burning critiques come from Black men that are deemed successful by society’s standards of success. The doctors, lawyers, business owners, executives, consultants, teachers, or any other persons that believes they’ve “made it” are filled with condemnations against our youth. I understand their recognition of and frustration with the many problems that exist but I also suggest they look in the mirror if they’re truly interested in solving the problems.
Imust say that I do not think that a man with copious professional credentials and achievements is more qualified than his less educated peers to work towards uplifting our youth. Some of those men are so psychologically damaged that I’d prefer that they stay as far away from our children as possible. However, I do believe the professional Black man has the power within him to change the minds of those young Black boys he encounters.
His profession isn’t as important as is the opportunity to offer a presence that may be foreign to the mind, eyes, and ears of the young Black youth. This new presence is sure to challenge many of the homogeneous thoughts, norms, and axioms that have been beaten into our kids’ minds.
Professional Black man, you provide the opportunity for many of our underserved youth to be exposed to ways of living that they may not otherwise have access to. Don’t act as if you don’t know how Black men have always been portrayed in ‘Murica’s media.
You know that society is either covertly or overtly telling our youth that their place in society is either on the mic, field, in the bed, or in jail. Many of you Black men were told and sold the same garbage that these kids are exposed to today. Think about the light that was illuminated within when you discovered that there was more out in this world to capture.
Whenever you start a new job, you expect to be trained on the responsibilities of your position and you also expect to be assimilated into the culture of the organization. Well, who is training these Black boys on the many responsibilities of manhood? Who is assimilating them into America’s culture? If there aren’t many real men to guide them then they have no choice but to learn on the job. Yet you blame them for the mistakes they make.
Quinton M – Is a graduate of Purdue University currently working for Lukoil Pan Americas. He currently serves on the Board of Brooklyn CARES Mentoring Movement. He also serves on the Mentor Advisory Council for iMentor and on the Junior Board of Directors for Urban Pathways.
What makes me tick? Well, there’s a large combination of things that keep me focused and help me push even when I don’t feel like being bothered. Oprah has her yearly favorite things, I figured I would share my Inspirational Things for anyone interested in diversifying their own sources of inspiration. I have allowed these things to have power over me in a way that is a bit fanatical in the sense that they give me the one-track mind that I feel has helped me get to where I am today. That’s not to say that on the surface I agree with everything that is presented here. But it is to say that on a deeper level, these things continue to push me to question my own motives and actions toward those motives and goals on a fairly consistent basis.
Black Scholars and Historical Figures
From Booker T. Washington to Thurgood Marshall to Malcolm X to Carter G. Woodson to Dr. Juwanza Kunjufu to Marva Collins to Barute Kafele to Lisa Delpit – there is nothing more enthralling to me than learning what these Black scholars and, in my mind celebrities, have to offer. I can honestly say that I didn’t know anything about Malcolm X until perhaps 4 or 5 years ago when in one of my nightly Youtube trances I stumbled upon some of his speeches. From that moment on I was captured by his eloquence and capacity to string a lethal combination of words together that clearly conveyed his non-restrained message. I don’t know if it’s the fact that Black history and knowledge is in a way hidden from mainstream grasp, or that the characters involved are filled with the same blood and roots that I am that empowers me so. But, all in all, I love finding new pieces of information and knowledge left by my predecessors. Most of their messages, warnings, and predictions are still quite true today, decades and even for some even a century after that fact. I’ve actually amassed a personal library that far exceeds my capacity to download and process the information contained within the pages. Part of me wants to one day be one of those books on someone’s bookshelf that made them think more critically about the world and their responsibility to change it.
Life Coaches and Motivational Speakers
Over the past 3 years I’ve worked with, or at least connected with 3 different life coaches/motivational speakers. I’m drawn to people that are go-getters and have the ability to remain positive all of the time. I like to think I’m a glass-half-full kinda guy. But I absolutely don’t think I would be where I am today had it not been for these particular people in my life. About 2.5 years ago I somehow ran into an ad by my frat brother Darius Gant who was looking for new clients for his life coaching business. At the time I knew that change was in order and that my days at my non profit youth development job were numbered. Working with Darius on a weekly basis helped keep me accountable to clarifying my goals and finding the doors that I once thought were hidden from me. I looked forward to our phone calls, the homework he would assign me, and the ability to just talk my plans through with another motivated young professional. To date, I’ve run into quite a few similar characters who have helped me in varying ways keep my eyes on the prize when it comes to my own success as a person and professional. If you’re at a crossroads, or just need some extra motivation to see your own goals through I would definitely look into life coaching from a peer OR searching through youtube and Google to find easily accessible motivational tools. I actually am still benefiting from the residual connection(s) with these individuals and hope to one day show them that I was serious about finding my own way to success.
I don’t know what to call this one… I was trying to think of a fancy title, but I really just carefullychoose the media and messages I allow myself to consume, consciously and subconsciously. There is power in the messages we hear and surround ourselves with on a regular basis. As the old adage goes, if you tell a child they’re stupid long enough, they will eventually believe you. Better yet, if you’re never exposed to success then you never quite understand that it is always possible. Donald Trump once said that in order to become a successful business executive you first have to visualize yourself flying around in your private jet closing million dollar deals. If you don’t visualize it, then you’ll never work hard enough to make it happen. That’s not quite the life I want for myself. But, I am crafting my version of success, and in order to do that I purposefully surround myself with media that either agitates or develops my mind toward that direction. I don’t want to come down on people that watch TV. But, I’ll say this, an overwhelming majority of the images that are on tv aren’t positively framed images of people of color. Somewhere I read a study that said the only individuals that can watch tv for X amount of hours and come away feeling better about themselves are White males. If you’re going to spend your time watching tv, you also need to supplement those messages with more positive and developmental images and messages that represent characters that look, think, and feel like you. Below are some of the links I visit regularly.
It’s sort of a gift and a curse, but I’ve always been the type of person that wants to be the absolute best at what I do, whenever I do it. I can remember early on in grad school people I knew would say that at some point you just have to find a balance between getting enough done to survive and doing a good job. For the most part I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job at trying to push for excellence in every action I make with teaching, graduate school, and my personal life. Of course excellence isn’t always what is achieved. (just ask my supervisors) But, I do appreciate the little engine in me that expects to go all out every time I’m called up to bat. I’m not quite sure what process I went through to make this happen. But I’ve gotten to a point where it is ingrained into my system to go hard and don’t go home. As I mentioned in a previous post, being an athlete I learned the difference between coasting and training. Now, I purposely try to direct my energies toward things that are difficult or that don’t immediately peak my interests. The practice of doing what I can’t do and don’t want to do is the sure fire way to make myself grow into a better and stronger person. When I was younger and first starting to understand what growth truly meant I likened it to being a robot, and not having any weapons to fight with. However, the more experiences and challenges I go through in life, the more I weaponize my person into someone who is more capable of handling and conquering grander situations.
All of this work would be pointless if I was only doing it for myself. Realistically I am indeed focused on being the absolute best version of myself I can be for myself. But, in reality the benefit to pushing for the best version of myself will, or rather should, spill over onto the communities and individuals I come into contact with each day. For that reason they serve as a huge source of inspiration to me. Its difficult to quantify how much my students, the neighborhood(s) I represent, my family, peers, etc… get from the work I do. But, the driving force for me is to be so good at what I do that the people around me benefit through proximity or through more direct influence and actions I have taken for those individuals. There’s nothing like being tired, exhausted, upset, drained, whatever, and thinking about how my audiences rely on me to deliver a purposeful and quality product to them regularly. I think people often feel they’re too small to truly impact their communities, but I don’t agree. I do have an actual impact on what people believe they can do and achieve. And much of that belief is ingrained when I keep pushing even when I’m ready to say Fuck It.
BONUS: My Peers and their projects
Looking back, its amazing to see how peers groups work together in unison and in conflict to move themselves forward. For instance Martin and Malcolm were peers who for the most part stood on opposite sides of the same coin. But part of what makes both of them so great is that they in a way worked together to help bring change and revolution to the world. Booker T. Washington had George Washington Carver and W.E.B. DuBois. Even Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen on his side, and people like Magic Johnson across the aisle. I’m not quite sure who my peer group is as of yet. Its something that I’ve searched for and haven’t quite found yet, which is irritating to say the least. But, I do appreciate that I have found some figures out there who are doing some amazing work in their own communities. At the very least it shows me that I could be doing a lot more than I’m doing now. And for that I respect them!
Brandon Frame – Founder of TheBlackManCan.com, and author of The BlackManCan Presents: A Guided Journal for Black Boys and Men. Brandon a former teacher has his hands full with his Black Man Can Institute that has made stops in Baltimore, New Haven, Atlanta, and New York City. While I’m struggling to wake up on time for work Brandon is working non stop to educate and empower youth of color… in multiple cities. *Respect* Check out The Black Man Can’s facebook page.
Aaron Mallory – I actually went to school with Aaron way back in the 90’s. He was a few years younger than me. But I remembered him because his mom was a substitute teacher at our school, and his family lived across the street from the school. Since those years Aaron has become a motivational speaker, author, graduate student at the prestigious University of Chicago, and has even built great community organization for the Chicago community – Guide Right Organization. *Keep it up homie*