Members of the 100,
The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has brought national attention to the use of excessive force by police against young black males. However, there are a number of issues beyond excessive force that lurk below the surface which many would agree are contributing factors to, if not direct reasons for, Michael Brown’s death and the civil unrest that still permeates Ferguson. Further, it is clear that these underlying issues are not just restricted to Ferguson, Missouri, but are at various levels issues in cities across the nation and abroad.
The 100 Black Men of America, Inc. and its network of chapters have identified the lack of respect for black lives, under representation in policy making and governance processes, and disparities in education, income and access as the primary areas that must be addressed across the nation to safeguard against another “Ferguson” anywhere else. While expanding our role in various areas, the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. and its network of chapters will stay focused on our mission and keep true to our programmatic initiatives. We will continue to utilize our now “Five for the Future Programs” of Mentoring, Education, Health and Wellness, Economic Empowerment and Leadership as the foundation for the advocacy and intervention work in which we will participate. The 100’s response will continue to be thoughtful, deliberate, strategic, impactful and sustainable. The 100’s response will address lack of respect for black lives, under representation in policy making and governance processes, and disparities in education, income and access through dedicated actions in three areas – Conversations, Education and Image/Perception.
Conversation – With respect to conversation the 100 intends to:
- Lead in and/or participate in convening other international and national organizations (e.g., African-American Fraternities and Sororities, Human and Civil Rights organizations, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, etc.) to participate in developing specific actions that each can take within their purpose and mission to address concerns.
- Lead and collaborate with like-minded organizations to expand the conversations with the children and families within our communities. Topics of conversation may include, perceptions (how you are perceived), how to react when approached by police, situational awareness, verbal and non-verbal messaging, community engagement, blacks in government/law enforcement, local governance, etc.
- Lead and collaborate with like-minded organizations to expand the conversations with law enforcement and law enforcement training academies to support their mission of “protect and serve”. Topics of conversation may include perceptions (how you are perceived), how to approach minority youth, the experiences that minority youth have with law enforcement and the disparities in perception that affect interactions, militarization of police forces, etc.
Education – With respect to education, the 100 intends to:
- Continue its work expanding the number of high performing schools and developing and programs that increase the high school graduation rate of black youth.
- Expand its work to help black youth not only matriculate to a college or university but through that college or university into a promising career.
- Expand its work helping black youth identify potential career paths that do not require college (e.g., trades, technical certifications, etc.) and increasing access to job training opportunities.
- Lead workshops and other initiatives to educate our children and families on federal, state and local governance processes.
- Lead workshops and other initiatives teaching children and families the importance of community engagement (e.g., exercising their right to vote, methods of interacting with community leaders and governing bodies, being involved in local politics, etc.).
- Lead workshops and other initiatives that address the topics of expanded conversation noted above (e.g., perceptions (how you are perceived), how to react when approached by police, how to approach minority youth, the experiences that minority youth have with law enforcement and the disparities in perception that affect interactions, black in government, etc.).
Image and Perception – With respect to image and perception the 100 intends to:
- Publish statements addressing unacceptable stereotyping of black males.
- Increase awareness and work to expand initiatives to combat negative stereotypes that lead to disproportionate arrests, prosecution and sentencing of black youth.
- Collaborate with its partners to develop campaigns that increase the number of positive black images throughout the communities we serve.
By concentrating efforts to lead and participate in the aforementioned ways, the 100’s as One (one mission, one cause, one network) will continue to serve as a catalyst for change and aid in eliminating the undertow of issues that hold our children and communities captive.
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100 Black Men of America