Message to my black queens
From the Inkwell of: Bartholomew J. Worthington III
Look Black women. Please work with us. As a Black man who has committed to the empowerment of our communities, this is a genuine plea: Please work WITH us, not AGAINST us.
Over the past couple of weeks there has been strong criticism from Black feminists over two different initiatives aimed at uplifting the young Black man. And while these are points worth acknowledging, it distracts from both the overall goals of each of these programs as well as the overall unity of our people.
Earlier this month, Twitter was abuzz with the #WhyWeCantWait hashtag. #WhyWeCantWait supporters criticize President Obama's signature My Brother's Keeper Initiative for being too narrowly focused on only men of color. They are of the belief that My Brother's Keeper should also include an emphasis on women and girls of color.
Then, just earlier this week, an article was posted to Madame Noire entitled, Why Its Not a Good Idea To Support Dr. Umar Johnson's Bid to Start An All Black Boy's Academy. In this entry, the author lays out their case for why Dr. Umar Johnson should not be supported in his bid to found an all boys boarding academy.
For those not familiar, Dr. Umar Johnson is a clinical psychologist and noted Pan-African advocate. He is seeking to raise funds to purchase the currently shuttered HBCU St. Paul's College in southern Virginia. His stated vision is to turn the campus into the Frederick Douglas Marcus Garvey RBG International Academy for Black Boys. The FDMG Academy will focus on educating Black boys for self-employment and entrepreneurship.
The article's author lays out the twin criticisms of misogyny and homophobia as reasons why Dr. Johnson is unqualified to run a boys school. And while she may have valid concerns, all I have to say is this: Enough. If you are not seeking to be a part of the solution, please get out of the way and sit quietly on the sidelines.
Currently the Black community is under fire (I know I say it all the time, but it's because it really is). Young Black men are specifically the most at risk.
Out of all the demographic groups, young Black men are the most likely to be diagnosed with learning disabilities. The most likely to be suspended or expelled from school. The most likely to drop out of school. The most likely to get involved with the criminal justice system at a young age. The most likely to be arrested and convicted of a crime as adults.
Young Black men are also the most likely to be unemployed as adults. In fact, a white male applicant with a criminal record is more employable for an entry level position than a Black man without a record,
And this reality is why the My Brother's Keeper program and Dr. Umar Johnson's quest to found a school from Black boys is so important. Not only to Black boys, but also to Black women and the Black community.
A recent study highlighted the plight of Black women, who, it discovered, get evicted at rates similar to the rate of incarceration for Black men. If that isn't evidence that building up the Black man is beneficial to the Black woman as well, I don't know what is.
Look, ladies, we understand that you have your own unique set of challenges to deal with. And we understand that it isn't easy for you to shoulder the load, often by yourself.
But please, dial it back some. These initiatives are not meant to exclude you, or oppress you. The are meant to uplift and support you.
The best thing that can be done for the Black family and the Black community is for us to educate, train and develop strong Black men to support our women.
So please Black woman, I implore you: Support the efforts to honor and uplift the Black man.
By doing that, we honor and uplift you as well.
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