“In the final analysis, our community cannot reasonably expect others to respect our property if we are unwilling to clean up our own house.”
I joined the 100 Black Men of Greater Washington DC because the dilapidated state of our community is so apparent that I need not regurgitate any official statistics other than to say that young black men are dying at the rate of video game characters. At the same time, the criminal justice system has allowed profit margins to contaminate the scales of justice.
In that sense, I would like to expand our focus of mentoring children and build on the strong foundation constructed by previous administrations. It is my hope that we include more children with longer odds in our programs. We must be reminded from time to time that the kids who sleep on auntie’s floor, confuse junk food for a balanced meal and engage in fistfights full of manhood are starving for our presence.
While private industry has constructed a pipeline from the school system to the prison system, we too must build our own machine. Middle school is a critical moment in a child’s life, as studies show 68% of all high school drop outs happen within the first 2 years of high school. To the extent that we can increase the engagement of these students, their respective graduation rates will increase. As they matriculate through high school, we will continue to mentor them and maintain a relationship throughout college, developing future mentors to reach down and help others.
I envision a time when the vast majority of students at currently underperforming DC middle schools will rival those of more affluent neighborhoods and young men will have the capacity to look others in the eye, offer firm handshakes and speak the King’s English. It is incumbent upon us that the next generation feels better about themselves, knowing that they will become what they think they are.
In the final analysis, our community cannot reasonably expect others to respect our property if we are unwilling to clean up our own house. This will be the theme of 2016 and I look forward to working with our members, partners and community leaders.
100 Black Men of Greater Washington, D.C.