Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Black Men Talking – Meet the Men of Brother II Brother…

November 21, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) It seems almost anomalous when Black men speak. If still waters run deep, so do the feelings of Black men. They are painfully and beautifully human. Too often their voices go unheard. And when their voices are heard, it is a rich and luminous moment, revealing the deepest insight of their experience, compassion and faith.

These words prefaced an inaugural piece I wrote entitled “Black Men Talking.” It was a call to Black men to raise their voice within the confines of my column.

Meet the men of Brother II Brother, an extraordinary group of African American men dedicated to changing the lives of disadvantaged, male youth.

Perhaps a better title for this piece would be “Black Men in Action” because their deeds transcended their words during their recent 2nd Annual Youth Empowerment Symposium held on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC).

The organization was founded by Stinson Brown, LAPD Officer and Drill Instructor; and Pernell Clark, a pharmaceutical sales representative. Their mission is to mentor male youth from the ages of 13-21 on a variety of subjects including education, financial literacy, self-respect, and the meaning of manhood, to mention a few. This year’s symposium attracted about 50 youth who were recruited from various middle and high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The alarming number of homicides involving African American youth on the streets of Los Angeles and the staggering increase in their incarceration rates are the two main factors that inspired Brown and Clark to start what they refer to as “BIIB.” Their goal is to intervene in the lives of young males particularly the behaviors that put them at risk of becoming involved in the juvenile justice system, and in helping them make positive choices that could lead to a better life.

“I was tired of holding the heads of young African American males in my hands as they took their last breath,” said Brown, 22-year LAPD veteran, about witnessing first hand the lives of young men extinguished from gang related violence. “I wanted to do more than talk about what was happening, I wanted to do something to help to save our youth.”

“Having positive mentors in my life as a young man was a critical part of my development and later success,” said Clark, a Yale graduate who grew up in South Central. “Joining Officer Brown in creating Brother II Brother was not only a way to provide a positive image to male youth in our community, but it was a way to show them positive alternatives.”

Brown and Clark knew they were not alone in their desire to help male youth. They had many friends and colleges who were equally concerned about what was happening to our young men. When they put out a call for core members to help carry out their mission and objectives, many men and even few women answered the call.

But when they put out the call for men to help mentor young men at the 2nd Annual Youth Empowerment Symposium, the response was overwhelming – over 80 men from various professional occupations and entrepreneurial endeavors responded, including KNBC-4 morning news anchor Chris Schauble who served as the Master of Ceremonies for the day. Others included Lance Triggs, Executive Vice President of Operation Hope who weighed in and addressed the youth about financial literacy. Dr. Brian Nichols, licensed clinical psychologist signed on and dared symposium participants be great; and Dr. Leslie Klien enlisted and gave a presentation about reproductive health.

The mentor-to-student ratio for the day long event was 2-to-1. For many of these young men it was better than winning the lottery for the latest video game release. It was the first time in their lives that they had an opportunity to talk one-on-one with men who took an interest in their lives and their futures. And symposium participants didn’t hold back in asking their mentors a myriad of questions during their personal breakout sessions which mentors said were inquisitive, lively and poignant exchanges.

“I understand the importance of having goals after talking with my mentor,” said 17-year-old Washington High School Student Delante Robinson who attended the symposium. “I was inspired by my mentor and now I have goals I know I can achieve.”

“At the end of the day, that’s what it is all about, reaching the next generation, giving them hope, helping them see the vision for their lives and giving them the tools to make their dreams come true,” said Brown. “We are our brother’s keeper, and Brother II Brother is without a doubt our young brother’s keeper.” For more information about Brother II Brother, visit brothertobrotherla.org. (If you have comments about Veronica’s View, email to vsview@yahoo.com.)

Written By Veronica Hendrix

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