When you turn on your 9 o’clock news, you’re likely to see images of African-American men committing a slew of crimes throughout your city. Is it because black men are committing more crimes than other ethnic groups? Not necessarily. Black men are just more sought after for illegal activities than men of any other race.
When one factors in systemic racism, lack of access to vital resources, lack of access to a quality education, etc. it is quite obvious that black men are severely marginalized, possibly resulting in a “by any means necessary” mode of survival to attain capital. A couple of years ago Philadelphia-based Knights Arts Foundation started the Black Male Engagement Initiative (BMe), a platform for men to connect and engage with one another online and through networking events. “Regardless of what you’re seeing, there are Black men out there doing good things,” says Alex Peay, a 25-year-old founder and president of an organization that works with men ages 18-28 to help them gain work skills through civil engagement. “There are Black men out there making a difference, they are doing their part. There’s just so much negative media out there, you just don’t see these men on a regular basis.”
Thousands of men in Philadelphia, Detroit, and Baltimore are connecting with one another and changing the dialogue about black men through BMe, says Donna Frisby-Greenwood of the Knight Arts Foundation. “What people are saying is wow, you are changing the narrative of what we’re used to seeing,” she says. “We’re used to seeing Black men are incarcerated or Black men are dropping out of school. And now you are giving us Black men who are business owners, Black men who are non-profit leaders, coaches, community leaders, mentors- that’s not what we are used to seeing.” You can find out more about BMe by clicking here.