Graduation Part IV: Building Up Youth

“I fear death, I’m young I have a whole life ahead of me, I don’t want to start gang-banging and then people are killing people for no reason now. So it’s like I don’t want to gang-bang and walk down the street and get killed,  that takes away my life…but It’s going to hurt the people I leave behind like my mom and dad…if I die I feel like it will hit my family worse, and I don’t want to see that happen to them ” – Nate, age 16. 

When I first discovered BUILD, I was ecstatic to learn about this wonderful organization and honored to be welcomed into the lives of some of their youth. This summer I spent several days with Rik Vazquez, Youth Development Specialist at Build and Dope Poet,  visiting the youth he worked with. These young men greatly impressed me and strongly touched my heart. It’s so easy for people to negatively label young men of color without understanding their goals, fears, obstacles, and life story.  I was impressed by their knowledge, wisdom and honesty. The audio clip posted it long, I admit it, but that is because we covered just about every topic that should be addressed when discussing youth violence. These young men share their goals and obstacles, discuss violence in their personal lives, race and poverty, drugs, education, family support and ways to build up youth and stop violence. 

Study shows that poverty damages the brain

poverty

African Americans are disproportionately affected by poverty in a number of ways. In 2012, they were twice as likely to be unemployed compared to whites.

A new study is revealing some interesting findings about the affects of poverty on the brain.

From The Atlantic:

Experiencing poverty is like knocking 13 points off your IQ as you try to navigate everything else. That’s like living, perpetually, on a missed night of sleep. That finding offered a glimpse of what poverty does to a person during a moment in time. Picture a mother trying to accomplish a single task (making dinner) while preoccupied with another (paying the rent on time). But scientists also suspect that poverty’s disadvantages – and these moments – accumulate across time. Live in poverty for years, or even generations, and its effects grow more insidious. Live in poverty as a child, and it affects you as an adult, too.

Hundreds Rally in Philly School District HQs for More Funding

Hundreds of students, teachers, and parents have gathered at the Philadelphia School District headquarters, demanding more funding for jobs and programs.

Many schools will open this year without counselors, administrative staff, nurses, or librarians.

The city has allocated just $50 million to open schools, but important positions and programs will be empty.

Nas Raises $29,000 for Homeless Family

Who says emcees aren’t activists?

While many of us are keeping an eye out for the conclusion of the Jay Z-Belafonte beef, Nas used his profile to bring a little goodwill to a family down on their luck.

After seeing a story about a family who had lost their home to a fire, Nas took to Twitter to help them.

Over $29,000 was raised in less than a day!

Black Unemployment Falls to Year Low of 12.6%

Although it rose in June to 13.7%, the black unemployment rate fell in July to 12.6%, a low for the year:

 

U.S. employers added 162,000 jobs in July, the fewest since March. The gains were enough to lower the unemployment rate to a 4½ -year low of 7.4 percent, a good sign in an otherwise lackluster report.

 

The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment fell from 7.6 percent in June as more Americans found jobs.

Don Lemon and Media Violence Against Young Black Men

By Antwaun Sargent

 

 

I have watched the Don Lemon CNN “No Talking Points,” segment over and over again. I was looking for some truth in his five suggestions to young black men. Don Lemon said, we should pull up our pants, stop using the n-word, stop littering, finish school, and not have children out of wedlock.

 

I have by Don Lemon’s estimation done all the right things. I am a 24 year old black man. I don’t sag my pants. I went to Georgetown from the Cabrini-Green Housing projects and then on to get a Masters degree, and recently just finished teaching for two years in an under resourced community in Brooklyn. I don’t litter, and I don’t have any children. But I do feel alienated by Don Lemon’s comments. I feel alienated by his comments because they translate into a form of media violence, that Black men know all too well.

Don Lemon Agrees w/ Bill O’Reilly; Launches His Own Rant Against Black Youth

Don Lemon has come under fire for expressing agreement with Bill O’Reilly’s controversial statements regarding crime in the Black community.

In fact, Lemon says Bill didn’t go far enough.

Lemon gave Black kids five suggestions for cleaning up their act: hike up your pants, finish school, stop using the n-word, take care of your communities, and don’t have children out of wedlock.

The Nation: From the Deep South to the Midwest, a Generation Demands Justice

A recent article over at The Nation shines a light on how young people from across the country are uniting, organizing, and demanding justice.

Among those featured are our very own Black Youth Project 100 – 100 young black activists from across the country convened by the Black Youth Project to mobilize communities of color beyond electoral politics.

BYP100 member Rahiel Tesfamariam eloquently explained the collective’s formation and mission:

Detroit is Biggest City in U.S. History to File for Bankruptcy

Detroit, Michigan is officially the biggest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy.

Many fear massive layoffs, higher fees, and the scaling back of a variety of services.

From NewsOne:

Detroit lost a quarter-million residents between 2000 and 2010. A population that in the 1950s reached 1.8 million now struggles to stay above 700,000. Much of the middle-class and scores of businesses also have fled Detroit, taking their tax dollars with them.