Greetings Good People,
A few weeks back I finished reading The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and The Dilemmas of Black Manhood by Professor Tommy Curry. His book provided a detailed analysis of the disproportionate victimization of Black men throughout American history, as well as present-day. Although the information was substantial, I found myself disappointed with how inadvertently one-sided it was. There was no, “what next?” It focused on the laundry list of problems that many African American men face, but it didn’t provide any solutions on how we can solve or heal from them; which is tiresome at this point because I’m invested in figuring out the solutions to our traumas. And when it comes to my community, there is no greater Rolodex than our children.
So, allow me to shine light on one of those solutions: S.T.E.P.
S.T.E.P (Striving Together Equals Progress) is a nonprofit Rites of Passage and Manhood Development Program based in Newark, New Jersey. This program addresses the cultural, educational, and emotional well-being of its participants. And the core curriculum includes Culture (African, Caribbean, and African American History and Culture), Spirituality (Understanding the Importance of Living in Harmony), Science (Economics, Politics, Language), Health & Nutrition (Wellness through Total Health and Fitness), Leadership (Manhood and Womanhood, Decision Making, Personal Planning, Community Service, and Organizing), and Self Defense (Boxing, Martial Arts, Grappling).
Reading up on this organization gave me a new burst of energy and inspiration. When it comes to black youth, particularly our boys, there’s always a negative connotation that follows; and the stereotypes about them are unjust and unfair considering the circumstances that many are forced to face. But S.T.E.P is a solution that I would personally love to see spread throughout the country. Planting those seeds of self-love, knowledge of self, and self-sufficiency into the minds of black boys will ultimately reverse the inferiority complex that many have been anchored in since birth.
Until Next Time…