My Brother’s Keeper: Perspectives From Young Men Of Color

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Sons and Brothers Speak Out

This video highlights the voices of African American young men growing up in Oakland, California, whose lives are touched by many of the issues raised by My Brother’s Keeper.




carbyneOne Man’s Education

Young. Black. Poor. From Oakland. If someone heard that description, they probably wouldn’t picture someone well-spoken and educated. But I want to change the way the world looks at people like me.

When I was born, according to the US Census, I had a 30 percent chance of being into poverty because my parents were African-American. And I was poor.

Having no money introduced me to a life of humility. I was constantly borrowing from others, and asking for favors. Hunger was no stranger to me either. Read more

MylesBess and Arnold PerkinsComing Of Age In The Era Of Oscar Grant And Trayvon Martin

I was the same age as Trayvon Martin when he was killed. It was the first shooting case that got national attention where I felt connected — like I could relate. When I first heard the story, it seemed clear: Trayvon Martin was young and he was murdered. I thought it would be an open and shut case. As time progressed, it changed. The more information came out, the more complicated the case became. And then the verdict was announced. I wasn’t surprised. But I was emotionless. Should I be angry? Should I be sad? I felt like goop. No shape. No structure. Read more

Joshua Clayton No Room To Be A Kid In Oakland

I grew up in the west. They call it the Lower Bottoms.

Everybody in my neighborhood would always tell me, “This is where you’re from.” “12th street is your home.” And lately, that mentality started feeling like a jail. I feel trapped. Like my entire universe is just one block long.

I know I can progress and do other things in life, but it’s like a mind game I play with myself. Because whenever something starts feeling like it’s going downhill, I run straight back to 12th Street. I run straight back to what I know, because it makes the bad feel normal. Even though I don’t have a job, it doesn’t bother me as much when I’m on my block, because there, we are all struggling to be happy. Read more

american-promiseYouth Radio Podcast: The Miseducation Of Young Black Males

 Youth Radio has been following education all year but this week we’re looking at the issue of like racial inequities in schools. We talk with the filmmakers behind American Promise, which looks at black families and their sons in American schools. Read more



MylesBMy Story Resonated, I Felt Empowered

I didn’t know what to expect when we caught the Amtrak from Jack London up to the state capitol for the state assembly’s select committee to discuss the status of men and boys of color in California. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a diverse group of people from the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color.

I knew only a handful of things about the event:

1) I was going to the Capitol building to speak about issues in my community

2)…Actually, that’s all I really knew.

The two-day event was full of diversity, empowerment, and change. For the first time, I was in a ballroom with 250 boys and men of color, who were dressed and ready to make a difference. Read more

ClassroomFeeling Like A Foreigner In Class

Most of the kids at my school don’t look like me, don’t dress like me, and most certainly don’t talk like me.

At the College of Alameda, enrollment data show that the African American headcount dropped drastically between 2011 and 2012. If it continues to drop at the same rate, in six years, African American head count will be zero.

I’m one of the only black students in my classes. We have a lot of international students, but sometimes I feel like the one that’s foreign. I’m a real outgoing person with my friends, but at school I’m anti-social. I’m afraid to talk to people because I don’t want to get stereotyped, or come off as “ghetto” or “ignorant.” Read more

PendarvisHarshawLearning In The Young Lion’s Lair

The phrase “I don’t give an F-Bomb” resonates throughout high school hallways every day, especially in Oakland public schools. Which begs the question: how do you get students to actually give a flying F-bomb?

The numbers show that young black men drop out of school at higher rates, and are more likely to be incarcerated than other groups. Earlier this year I worked as an educator in the Oakland schools, in a pilot program designed to prevent young black men from dropping out. My students, all freshmen in high school, were in my class because of discipline issues, low attendance, or academic shortcomings. We called our class the Young Lion’s Lair. Read more

8589591025_b9cdc386b9_nChess Changed My Life

Archie, he had a lot of wisdom. I met him at a time when I needed guidance, and I recognized him as a person who was passionate about knowledge of self. Most days he could be found reading or playing chess.

I used to hit him up to play, but he’d tell me, “You probably know how to play chess, but you don’t play chess,” and he was right.

Archie said there are people who know how to play the game, people who play the game, and then there are chess players. The first group just knows how to move the pieces on the board. The next group plays chess, but doesn’t understand the strategy. And for chess players like Arch…the game is just inside of them.  Read more

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