FACTS: 1 in 4 young men of color will be incarcerated in their lifetime. Only 6% make up the college population, while 40% are in prison. Boys of color are three times likely to be suspended in kindergarten and will receive the most special education services including being placed in self-contained classes. In Brownsville, only 32% of residents have a college degree, 14% have a college degree, and 80% of New York State prisoners are from within our community.
I opened a school to close a prison by implementing innovative curriculum and taking our scholars to the places they belong, in addition to equipping their parents with the knowledge and experiences they need to best support their children. I want my young men to know that their lives have value and they are intelligent human beings who deserve the chance to #BeGREAT! When I see my scholars, I see their brilliance, potential, and desire to want to be the best.
So I challenge the narrative that says boys of color are “too defiant”, “too unfocused”, “too slow”, “too aggressive”, but in actuality many are bored, creative, insightful, misunderstood, abused, dealing with death and issues of abandonment. When given the safe space to explore, be curious, ask questions, and time to think thing through, our young men thrive and build confidence in who they are and what they can become. When there is such a lack of black men who are positive role models in their homes, throughout their communities, and even in the media, it is our responsibility to remind them that they are exceptional and the future of tomorrow.
It takes a village in partnership with families who are willing to show up to be part of the process of raising our young kings, because our first lessons and high expectations are taught at home. Thank you Harvard University for always making the Mott Hall Bridges Academy visit exceptional!
Watch my TED Talk http://tinyurl.com/gsxzrxz