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What Happens to a Dream Deferred? – A grassroots study on Baltimore’s Black men & Boys

Picture of Dayvon Love

Dayvon Love

Director of Public Policy
Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle

a woman with her hands outstretched walks between two rows of people who also have their hands outstretched
Healing session with Phyllis Hubbard at the 2017 Rumble Young Man Rumble Conference

Recently I attended the Rumble Young Man Rumble Conference (RYMR), sponsored by the Campaign for Black Male Achievement. The experience was powerful as we spent two days at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum discussing how to improve the material conditions of Baltimore’s Black men and boys.

Rarely do Black practitioners in the human and social services sector get an opportunity to fully exercise their expertise at full capacity due to the nature of racism/white supremacy in the non-profit sector. Often times, Black organizations are scrambling for resources, our institutions are under capacity and suffer from infrastructural limitations. RYMR is just one example of how, when resources are invested properly, that we can really have an impact on the state of our children in our communities.

To illustrate these structural challenges, David C. Miller, M. ED & Richard A. Rowe, MPA recently authored a grassroots Baltimore-based study – What Happens to a Dream Deferred? – on the issues facing not just Black boys, but the Black organizations and institutions who work to improve to conditions of Black boys.

The data and evidence presented in the report is extremely insightful to some of the impediments that Black-led organizations face in a variety of sectors as it relates to Black boys.

There are no recent authoritative, grassroots-based studies on the conditions of Black men and boys in Baltimore with the exception of this one.

Here’s a snippet from the execetuve summary of the report:

Known in part for the raw, gritty, and graphic docudramas “The Wire,” “The Corner,” and “The 12 O’clock Boys” Baltimore is like most urban centers riddled with a host of structural and racial challenges impacting the academic and social development of Black male youth. The problems confronting Baltimore’s young Black males are many: high morbidity, mortality, unemployment, and under-employment rates; substandard education;; below–average life span; arrest and imprisonment-overrepresentation; and exorbitant public and private costs for the social pathologies related to them.

Far too many local observers, elected officials, policy-makers and corporate and foundation CEOs are quick to dismiss these ill–ffated and disabling social phenomena as intractable realities anchored in foreordained inequality. These perspectives allow them to look the other way– or not at all; even though, overwhelming data on the quality and life trajectories of these young men suggest generations of Black males will continue dropping out of high school, dying at alarming rates, and entangled in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

While this particular report focuses on specifically on Black boys, there are many relevant comparisons to Black organizations in a variety of sectors (Black women/girls, education, criminal/juvenile justice, after school programming, etc).

We want to encourage people to use this report as a guide to understanding some of the real challenges our organizations and leaders face in the fight to improve the conditions of our people for the future.

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