Detroit summit focuses on young males of color
Telling the authentic story of Detroit requires more than talking about its poverty, crime and social challenges.
“If you only tell the problems, it’s only half the truth. We have to tell the whole story and all the great things and what black men and Latino men do to make it better,” says Trabian Shorters, CEO of BMe Community, a social network that supports black men across the nation.
Shorters will be in Detroit on Tuesday for the second Detroit summit of My Brother’s Keeper, a White House initiative to improve the outcomes of boys and young men of color, in which Detroit is participating.
Shorters, a former Knight Foundation executive and AmeriCorps author, says there is a popular narrative in most of the country that identifies black males with the city’s challenges.
“Whether it’s unemployment or poverty, it makes them the faces of the city’s challenges. Black men are much more often hard working, generous sincere men. If we don’t tell that story people will think those men don’t exist,” he said.
The Skillman Foundation is hosting the second MBK Summit on Tuesday, where they will announce their commitment to men of color in the community.
Speakers include Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Skillman Foundation President & CEO Tonya Allen and others. Shorters and Lamman Rucker, actor and activist, will be on an afternoon panel.
According to 2013 census data, Detroit is home to 280,000 males of African American and Latino decent.
President Barack Obama launched the MBK initiative in 2014 to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color. He issued a challenge to cities — including Detroit — towns, counties, and Tribal Nations to implement a coherent cradle-to-college and career strategy.
The focus of the Detroit summit is supporting young men of color so that they connect to and thrive in Detroit's new economy, said David McGhee, Skillman Program Officer for youth development and a leader in the summit.
McGhee said the foundation will be announcing a set of recommendations and a plan of action to move the community forward to make a difference in the lives of boys of color.
Among the recommendations: all boys of color enter school ready — cognitively, physical, socially and emotionally — and are participating and progressing in school; all young men of color are prepared for careers; all men of color are participating and progressing in the new economy; and all men and boys of color are supported in an informed community.
McGhee said the goals can be reach by providing school resources, developing college and career pathways through post secondary training and increasing workplace exposure.
“These recommendations are actionable and measurable. There are metrics associated with each of them,” he said.
McGhee says Skillman wanted to respond to the president’s challenge with solutions that are unique to Detroit.
“We really work under the premise of how awesome would it be for Detroit to lead the nation as the best city to raise a boy of color,” he said.
My Brother's Keeper - Detroit Summit II
10 a.m.-noon Tuesday
Greater Grace Conference Center, 23500 W. Seven Mile, Detroit