The evening of February 18th was one of the highlights of my professional career. It was the kick-off event to our multi-year series Our Children, and we started with a tough topic that needs to be discussed. I couldn't be more excited!
At our Raising Black Boys roundtable we invited five African American men, all distinguished professionals in their respective fields, and asked them to speak from their hearts about themselves and their families. We asked these polished experts to step out of their comfort zones and talk personally about their childhoods and their fears, as well as their hopes and dreams for their sons and for all children.
We asked these panelists to address the concerns we have heard from our adoptive families who are raising black boys. They talked about how important it is to have an ongoing conversation about race and racism with your child. They talked about how to protect your young child from the hurt that stereotypes and exclusion can bring by handing them the shield of self awareness and self confidence.
They shared that avoiding the topic of racism will not protect your child, but in fact will leave them open to others setting the stage for them. As fathers they shared how relentless they are in building up their sons' self esteem, while also keeping it real and holding them accountable for their actions.
It was an inspiring night that was capped by a recitation of the Urban Prep Academy's creed by a half dozen current students. #WeBelieve
Here are just a couple of the many pieces of immediate feedback I received that night:
"Every black boy deserves love and validation not only from his parents and extended family, but from the community at large. We all have the responsibility to build a strong and accepting society in which no child has to gird himself against prejudice, hatred and mistreatment." Janet McDonald, adoptive parent and Cradle board member
"Thank you! It was an excellent evening. It was powerful! I am proud to be a part of an agency which is willing to help parents and children to acknowledge and to address some of the more complex challenges our families face." Gineen Hecht, adoptive parent
If you were unable to join us last week, please know that we have only just begun. Stay tuned for information about our upcoming live webinar in May that will continue the conversation of raising Black boys!