A few African American students in Central Illinois are challenging the stereotype of the urban black male with a new initiative.

“Suit & Tie in the 217” features juniors and seniors at Central and Centennial high schools in Champaign with diverse interests. The initiative is meant to reclaim the narrative of the African American male by highlighting success and leadership. 

From WICD: 

“When people see a Black person, they don’t really think he can be smart,” said Central High School Senior Feli Keti. […] “All they see is like fight, gangster, rapping. I mean some people got that talent, but it’s not just in a bad way.”

Central High School Social Worker Tiffany Gholson said the video is about empowerment.

“It’s (sic) a counternarrative that you can write your own story and don’t let any else — the media, other people – tell your story; tell it for yourself,” Gholson said.

Read more at WICD

Watch “Suit & Tie in the 217” :

Currently, the video has more than 7,000 views on YouTube and has reached the Governor’s Office.

Kudos to these bright young men for taking an active role in realistically portraying the black male.

Thoughts on the initiative?

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