From The Grio — “A world I dream where black or white, whatever race you be, will share the bounties of the earth and every man is free…”
When Langston Hughes penned these words in 1926, I am certain he didn’t envision that 84 years later, the dream would remain unrealized. But here we sit at the dawn of 2011 a nation divided… a nation weakened because black males not able to participate fully in the American dream.
The conversation about the conditions of black males in America is not a new one. Noted scholars and corner philosophers alike have a lot to say about the black male predicament — who they are, how they got there, and why they seem to remain. Most often, the stories that make it to mainstream media paint a grim picture and offer little room for hope or imagining a better day. But I, like Langston, dream of a different world — a world where our black men are healthy and whole. The distance between those two worlds does not have to be as far as we think.
Recently, a new policy report called “We Dream a World: The 2025 Campaign for Black Men and Boys” was published by the Center for Law and Social Policy. The report has laid out a comprehensive set of solutions to address the myriad issues that currently plague our black males. The goal of the campaign is to significantly impact the life outcomes of black males within one generation.
To realize this dream by 2025, the campaign is committed to a strategic game plan that includes pursuing changes in public policy, empowering local communities to create change, and uplifting a different image of black males in the media.
Solutions to the problem exist — it is really about whether we have the will and the heart to implement those solutions fully. The solutions cost, no doubt. But what costs us more in the long run — fixing our broken nation so that all can thrive, or leaving it broken for generations to come while black men continue to pile up on the bottom of the social ladder?
Fixing the issue of black males requires an all-hands-on-deck approach to solving the problem. The black male predicament cannot be solved on Capitol Hill alone. It cannot be solved only by the stalwart leaders in the trenches in black communities. It cannot be solved by simply fixing schools. Every policymaker, community organizer, service provider, father, mother, preacher, media reporter, social worker, doctor, judge, etc must see themselves as a part of the solution.
What can you do to tackle a piece of this issue? How can you lend your voice, your talent, your time to making a positive difference for black men and boys? Perhaps you are a grassroots community organizer, or a leader in a community-based organization providing services to brothers every day. Maybe you’re a state employee, and the unit you oversee could do more to remove the artificial barriers that keep black men and boys from receiving services they desperately need. Perchance you’re a policymaker, and you can push your colleagues to use a racial lens to evaluate and write more effective policies for your city, your state, or your nation. Or maybe you’re just a black man, and you can lend a hand to another black man or boy who needs you.