Minority males come together at city summit


My Brother’s Keepers summit attendees (left to right) Trey Christie, Antonio Cervantes and his cousin Diego Cervantes huddle up just before the main event began at the My Brother’s Keeper event in downtown Durham. (Staff photo by LaMon Jones)


I recently heard about the My Brother’s Keeper events being hosted by Durham from someone close to me. It sounded interesting enough so I decided to check it out.

LaMon Jones, Partners for Youth intern and writer-photographer for the Durham VOICE.

LaMon Jones, Partners for Youth intern and writer-photographer for the Durham VOICE.

I wanted to be able to tell my story to other kids like me, as well as hear their stories. I was hoping I could relate to more youth like me and even make a few new friends while I was there.

MBK is an initiative, or better a challenge, President Barack Obama made to cities and towns across the nation. Its purpose is to have communities take the lead in making sure young minority males have a better chance of success.

According to the My Brother’s Keeper official website, the goal of the MBK summit is to ensure all children:

  • enter school fully prepared for that year’s lessons.
  • read at appropriate grade levels.
  • graduate from high school.
  • receive a secondary education or trade skill.
  • are employed after high school.
  • Remain safe from violence and crime.


These are great goals but aren’t easily attainable. These were the discussions we had at the MBK event held at the Durham Convention Center one Saturday morning in late January.

When I arrived at the convention center, I spoke with a few people as we waited for things to begin. Even though I arrived late because I attended a board meeting for another youth program, I felt I was accepted with a warm welcome into a group of people who were complete strangers to me, but many looked like me.

We spent the entire time speaking in a circle group about how it felt to be a minority male. I saw many people I knew and most of them I would have never expected to see at an event like that. There were hard-hitting points and questions about how we feel we fit in our schools and how our education may seem different from other students.

The speaker of my group said something that really made me think about my future.

He said, “You guys should be doing bigger and better things than I’m doing when you’re my age. Every generation is supposed to get better than the one before them.”

Knowing how hard it is as a minority, I thought about how much I would have to work to accomplish my goals. Seeing all the different people of different backgrounds, not just black and Latino, was really amazing.

Another quote from a young man also sticks out to me.

This particular kid mentioned, “I don’t see that our education is viewed differently, I just think we are not getting the same level of attention as others.”

I thought to myself, “You’ve got a good point there, bruh.”

As an example, at the last MBK summit, last fall, the idea of more black males in prison than in college being a myth was discussed. It’s been in the news lately. Statistics say almost twice the numbers of black men are in college than are locked up.

To have so many young men like me being involved in something like MBK that goes against all the stereotypes and prejudices about blacks, Hispanics and other minorities sort of lifted a burden off my shoulders.

Seeing people I personally know having their stories heard took a weight off of me.

When the groups picked people to speak I was the first to volunteer. Sharing my experience with other groups was all I could think about. Talking about how we spoke, what happens in school and what jobs we can get as minorities was truly spectacular. Anyone who wants to tell their story, or speak on some of their experiences as a minority male should try and get involved in one of these conferences. The fact that the President cares about the struggles of minority males makes me happy.

When the people in charge take the initiative to help kids out and hear their stories, kids respond better to their elders as well as in school.



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