After a string of robberies in their Bed-Stuy neighborhood, a group of Brooklyn men decided to take matters into their own hands. The men joined together to create the group, “We Make Us Better,” which escorts people home in an attempt to keep them safe. The group also walks their neighborhood reaching out to young men and encouraging positive behavior.
“We’re about encouraging males to be involved, because you don’t see men in their 20s, 30s and 40s involved in the community anymore, so we’re trying to bridge that gap,” Kareem Varlack, a founding member, told the New York Daily News.
The idea for the group was born after a night of trading horror stories about friends and relatives who had been mugged. For one member, Richard Beavers, the idea was especially timely after a late night call from a friend, CLUTCH’s own Geneva S. Thomas who lives in the community.
“She was on her way home, came out of the Utica Avenue A train station and made it onto her block when a group of young males approached her and robbed her,” Beavers, who owns the House of Art Gallery, told the New York Daily News. “I decided we can’t have these people terrorizing our young women and children, and we’re not speaking up and making our presence felt.”
Although the men weren’t apart of any particular political group and most had never participated in activism, they knew that they wanted to help out in their neighborhood. So once a week the men escort straphangers home from the Utica Avenue train stop, and stroll through the neighborhood reaching out to young men who hang on street corners.
The group, which has been in existence for nearly a month, is also looking to expand into a mentoring organization. The group’s members—all successful Black males from around the way—aim to set a positive example for the young men in their community. “A lot of these youths don’t have a positive male influence,” said group member, Titus Mitchell, director of a nonprofit. “When I see these kids, I don’t judge them, I understand who they are and what they are, and as Black men, we can just talk to them on their level.”
Kudos to these brothas. We wish more people took such pride in their communities.
What else can we do to keep our communities safe? Share your ideas!