In January, NYU’s Silver School of Social Work McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research released a 16-part podcast series entitled “Black Boys & Men: Changing the Narrative” to address the stereotypes black boys and men often face in the United States. The series was released on this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and with the country in the midst of a mass revival of white supremacy, it could not have been timelier.
The podcast series features a diverse set of experts and intellectuals discussing topics from police brutality to mass incarceration of the black community. The series was launched alongside #ChangingTheNarrative — a social media campaign that asks New Yorkers to complete the sentence : “Black boys and men Are…” Not only do the series and campaign aim to raise awareness about instances of prejudice against black men, but they also aim to inspire a future generation of policy makers and activists to bring about solutions to the injustice facing the black community. A focal point of the podcasts was the discussion of police brutality against black men and ways to reconcile the tensions between law enforcement and men of color in communities across the country.
These injustices need to change. The perception of black men in America is a conversation that is gaining national traction. The issue of police brutality was also a focus of the State of Black Men in America, which was held in Atlanta on Jan. 24 for the third consecutive year. Like NYU’s podcast series, this panel sought to create a dialogue about police brutality, unfair incarceration, education, employment and gentrification within the black community.
The conference in Atlanta and the NYU podcast series come in the face of a disturbing number of people embracing racial ideals across the country. Negative attitudes have echoed throughout America and have even translated into violence and bigotry on college campuses. Last year, at Minnesota’s St. Olaf College, two black students reported that they received racist messages reading: “Go back to Africa.” In May, Tom Curry, a black philosophy professor at Texas A&M University received several death threats in his voicemail inbox after a podcast he released about the history of slave rebellion resurfaced on right wing news blogs. The increasing prevalence of white supremacist movements on college campuses is startling. Even last year, the Anti-Defamation League reported that in the 2016 to 2017 school year, there were 159 incidents of white supremacist demonstrations on 110 American college campuses.
With horrific events happening nationwide, we hope that the NYU community will know better and will instead engage in a positive discourse willingly and respectfully. The podcast series offers an excellent starting point, and we must continue the conversation to ensure that our school’s commitment to diversity is not rhetorical but practical.
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