When we view young people like Asean Johnson, shouting, crying out and having their voice heard in the name of opposition, it does two things. It encourages us all to remember that the next generation of black youth can speak for themselves, and it also reminds us that we as black people are all connected. Regardless if the social issue revolves around school closings in Chicago, gun violence around the country, or poverty that plagues our neighborhoods, we cannot forget that these issues will impact us all. We all must wrestle with our “linked-fate,” whether we like it or not.
We’re sure many of you remember 9 year-old Asean Johnson, whose galvanizing speech at an anti-school closings rally in Chicago became a viral sensation.
According to Asean’s mother Shoneice Reynolds, Asean has been exhibiting leadership qualities from a very young age; he is currently the president of his third grade class.
And his voice has already been influential. He joined a chorus of voices that actually saved own his school – Marcus Garvey Elementary School – from closing.
Cheerios recently posted a new commercial on YouTube, featuring an interracial family.
The ad’s YouTube page was then inundated with negative, racist comments. So much so that Cheerios was forced to disable its comments section.
As Jorge Rivas points out; 45 years after Loving v. Virginia outlawed race-based marriage restrictions, “the bigotry (at least online) is still alive and thriving.”
Many are up in arms over the death of 25 year-old Cary Ball Jr. , an honor student who was shot 25 times by St. Louis police.
The police say Ball pointed a semi-automatic handgun at officers.
However, witnesses have told Ball’s family that he’d thrown his gun to the ground and began walking towards the officers with his arms raised when police opened fire.
22 year-old Cortlan Wickliff will become the youngest African American to graduate from Harvard Law School.
Wickliff graduated from Rice University at just 19 years-old with a degree in bioengineering.
As a first-year law student, Wickliff seemed “puzzled and a bit overwhelmed” by the classroom comments made by his older and more experienced colleagues, said professor Charles Ogletree. But, as the semester progressed, Wickliff matured, Ogletree said.
In Cleveland, Ohio a unique sex education program allows high schoolers to teach their peers about sexual health.
The peer educators receive extensive training prior to conducting classes.
The initiative is overseen by Case Western Reserve University’s Infectious Disease Alliance; they hope to combat rising rates of HIV infections in teens.
In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Re. Bobby Rush (D-Ill) called Sen Mark Kirk’s plan to crack down on Chicago gang violence is an “upper-middle-class, elitist white boy solution to a problem he knows nothing about.”
Rush is referring to Kirk’s recently stated commitment to “crush” Chicago’s street gangs, asserting that his top priority is to arrest the 18,000 members of the Gangster Disciples.
Rush later fleshed-out his comments, asserting that a real solution would be to fund jobs, housing, health care, and school improvement.
This past year, I have worked as a lead facilitator in a leadership program with Black male eighth graders on the South Side of Chicago. These are Black males who attend a school that is closing as a result of Rahm Emanuel’s upheaval of Chicago Public Schools. In addition to these woes, these Black males are intimately acquainted with the violence in their communities. Due to the shootings they constantly hear in their communities, these young Black boys have told me that they often don’t go outside of their homes. Ultimately, these Black youth are being forced to understand the places where they dwell as places of violence and disinvestment, when these are not the totality of their experiences. Accordingly, what are we to make of the fact that these young Black men are learning to make sense of themselves in a time where devastating current affairs are forcing them to constrict their lived experiences–their own identities–to violence and political marginalization? Despite these oppressive structures, we must understand how we can help them cultivate healthy senses of themselves that are expansive, unique, and nuanced.
This challenge must be undertaken because we do not live in a society that cultivates Black male complexity.