Communities Must Act to Heal Wounds of African-American Boys and Young Men

Too many young black men endure severe daily emotional stress or anguish, which they often strive to avoid by any means necessary. Their daily walk comprises many perceptions or assumptions that paint them as causes of trouble and sources of discomfort or unhappiness. The weight of these perceptions and beliefs are often unbearable and leave many of these boys and young men feeling hopeless, confused and trapped in a society that does not value them.

These feelings of worthlessness have been exacerbated by the recent case and court decision regarding Trayvon Martin. The series of events that led to his death as well as the assumptions and stereotypes about African-American teenage boys and young men were at the center of countless debates across the country.

Addressing the challenges faced by young African-American males requires a multi-faceted approach consisting of targeted public policies and community actions. These may include:
– Support Community Youth Programming
– Teach Parents, Guardians and Teachers the Tool of Social Autopsy
– Initiate Alternatives to Incarceration
– Interface Regularly with African American Male Youth
– Provide Jobs and Supportive Services Leading to Careers
– Celebrate Youth

It is time for America to stand up and realize that this subset of our population cannot be allowed to languish. They have to know that others value their contributions and believe in them. Change begins with our communities’ willingness to invest and trust. Without a sense that their community “cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them” – and is willing to do so on a grand scale – the plight of the African-American male will never change.

(Policy Bridge, a non-profit organization founded to research, analyze and respond to public policy from and African-American and/or underserved community stakeholder perspective, released this research report which is excerpted here.)