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Thoughts on contemporary culture
The social condition of black males has been an ongoing concern for decades. Statistics highlighting the disparities in levels of incarceration, educational achievement, life expectancy, relationship stability, financial security and employment has generated an industry of publications, conferences, and initiatives devoted to “saving” black males.
In many cases, these are half-hearted attempts more interested in making participants feel good than producing substantive change.
That is why I’m happy to learn of some recent examples of serious commitment to black males.
Greg Mathis is one such leader. Best known for his television show Judge Mathis, he is a former inmate who graduated law school and became the youngest person to sit on Michigan’s 36th District Superior Court.
Mathis is doing his part to break the cycle of black male incarceration via his Prisoner Education, Empowerment, and Respect Program. He visits correctional facilities and shares his story as proof of the power of education to change your life circumstances.
The judge is also involved with mentoring programs for non-violent offenders and the Second Chance Through Expungement (STEP) program that works to expunge criminal records if offenders don’t commit crimes for five years.
Another illustration of stepping up to the challenge is the Great Gathering, an event organized by African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion), Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) and African Methodist Episcopal (AME) churches. From March 1-3, the denominations met in Columbia, South Carolina and emerged with the Male Investment Program (MIP).
The MIP will target black males between the ages of 5 and 25 and promote education, health, spirituality, and financial literacy. A major component of the program will be using churches to provide workshops and mentoring opportunities on Saturdays. The Male Enhancement Program will debut in Washington, DC in May 2010 and eventually be implemented in thirteen cities.
This is the kind of outreach I have been waiting for churches to offer. Ethnic groups have been conducting “Saturday school” for years.
Considering that the black church is uniquely positioned to take a leadership role due to its influence, independence, and resources, I believe their involvement is critical to the success of any efforts to uplift black males.AME church, AME Zion church, black males, CME church, Great Gathering, Judge Mathis, Male investment program, social programs | Posted in activism, African American, positive black news
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