Jogging on a sunny spring day is normal. Chasing, shooting, and murdering a Black man while he is jogging is NOT normal. Playing music outside and enjoying yourself is normal. Being shot and killed because someone else does not like your music is NOT normal.
We share stories about how culturally-relevant practices healing and transform the lives of boys and young men of color who have experienced trauma in their lives and their communities. We hope these stories will inspire and garner support for the people and systems responsible for ensuring the BYMOC heal, grow, and thrive.
Over the past month, I have used the word “unprecedented” more times than I can count. That is because I did not know how to fully explain what was happening to our world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even still, unprecedented did not feel like a strong enough word. I found myself angry, scared, anxious, […]
As we lift up National Youth Violence Prevention Week in the midst of a global pandemic, we acknowledge the role of youth voices and youth leadership in identifying root causes and solutions. Youth are assets to our community that we must nurture and empower. They are often closest to the problems that organizations are seeking to solve. In this compounded crisis, the lived experience of boys and young men of color (BYMOC) is vital to helping organizations navigate and rapidly respond with fresh ideas to the new challenges and needs BYMOC are facing.
In my work on racial literacy, I have been interested in people’s comfortability in speaking up about injustice, particularly racism. My research has asked, “how do we prepare children to manage the stress of racism so they don’t fall prey to its negative effects on their bodies, hearts, minds, and souls? Black History Month is typically a time of reflection and celebration of the many achievements and contributions to the United States made by Black people. In light of the complicated history of people of color in America—and, as Black History Month comes to a close—I propose three things to remember about the ways in which hate and racism poison people of color, and how we can manage historical and contemporary triggers of racial trauma through racial literacy every month of the year.
I was invited to Jackson, Mississippi by the Juanita Sims Doty Foundation to conduct a training on the cycle of dehumanization and racialized trauma, and its impacts on health and well-being for children of color.
I’ve been a mother for 14 years. I have a teenage son and a young daughter. Being a mother is a great honor that brings an indescribable joy. I marvel daily at the ways my children are growing and developing. I am also humbled at how parenting has made me a better human being. At night, I often gaze at my two precious children sleeping and am filled with gratitude and warmth.
Meet Maȟpíya Black Elk, Director of Hiyupo Alliance Boys and Young Men of Color Programs at the Native American Community Academy (NACA). In this video, he shares his emotional journey of healing from the internalized negative feelings created by the historical dehumanization of Indigenous peoples when they were colonized. Maȟpíya’s experience with his loss of […]
In a society where boys of color are stigmatized in every aspect of their lives by officials holding public office, in law enforcement and others, you’d think that the institutions charged with protecting and supporting their intellectual growth would be better at withstanding the forces of stigmatization. But our schools are no exception, as evidenced by alarming statistics showing disproportionate suspension and expulsion rates for Black and Brown boys and assigning them to remedial classes and special education classification. These practices feed the false narrative that boys of color are inherently more dangerous or incapable of performing well academically.
To Our Forward Promise Family, All of us have been deeply impacted by the immigration crisis at the border in which both the separation of children from and reuniting with their families has traumatized them, severely compromising their current and future well-being. Central to our mission at Forward Promise is broadening the field’s knowledge about […]
In April, Forward Promise, the national program office of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) focused on improving the health and success outcomes of boys and young men of color (BYMOC), convened its nine (9) grantee organizations, leadership from Forward Promise and RWJF, and industry leaders from the Forward Promise National Advisory Committee (NAC) at […]
As teacher appreciation week comes to a close, Forward Promise National Advisory Committee member, Krishaun Branch, shares his reflections on the value of education and the influence of having black male educators as mentors. Krishaun graduated from Urban Prep Academy, an all-male Black high school in Chicago, Illinois, and was one of the first Urban […]
As the year comes to a close, the Forward Promise team took some time to reflect on how far we have come as a National Program Office and to fine tune our vision for where we want to go in the new year. As we took stock of the things that were accomplished during our first year as a national program office, there was much to celebrate and for which to be thankful.
“In the dark, we hide the heart that bleeds
And wait, and tend our agonizing seeds.”
If “it takes a village to raise a child,” what does it take to raise a healthy village for boys and young men of color? Affordable health care? Financial stability? Jobs? Good schooling? Justice? Not really. For centuries, boys and young men of color have weathered so much dehumanization regarding their presence, their innocence and their potential, that the respect for their humanity has all but eroded. These are important goals, but they are susceptible to the elements of fleeting goodwill and political turmoil.
As in the desert that surrounds this city, it seems almost all living happens at dusk. The sun throws rose-colored light on the Sandia Mountains, the pale houses empty, and the sidewalks fill. Above, the skies look brush-stroked and extravagant, and a breeze comes, as if it had been hiding too. When you endure in the desert, this hour is your reward.
Anchorage, Alaska is a celebration of natural splendor. Snow-topped mountains reach up into clinquant skies and create a majestic backdrop for the normalcy of life happening below. It’s the meeting of two worlds in the state’s largest city—the earthen grandeur that’s existed for lifetimes and the contemporary bustle of the now.