The tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado clearly displayed that violence can affect every demographic segment of the United States. Every race, gender, and socioeconomic category has its own particular set of challenges and obstacles. The precarious predicament of the black male in America has been especially concerning. The well documented statistics involving the status of the black male such as the fact that the number one cause of death for young black men is homicide (the overwhelmingly majority of which is at the hands of another black male) suggests that they are headed towards if not already in a state of crisis.
The state of the black male is further perplexing and intriguing considering that even as a black male occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. and the highest office in the country; black males are incarcerated at six times the rate of their white male counterparts. Even as Michael Jordan, Lebron James, and Dwayne Wade amass millions of dollars, the median net worth of white families is twenty times that of black families and eighteen times that of Hispanic families. Even almost sixty years after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision declared separate but equal schools to be unconstitutional, a massive achievement gap between minority students and white students persists. As Charles Dickens once wrote, "it was the best of times; it was the worst of times".
A new organization in Florida, "The Black Men's Roundtable", is seeking to address this crisis. The Roundtable is based on the already existent Black Women's Roundtable that sits under the umbrella of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation which is led on the national level by Melanie Campbell. The organization's first program will take place in the Liberty City section of Miami at the Joseph Caleb Center on July 28 at 10:00am.
There is arguably no city in the United States that more accurately embodies Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" better than Miami. There is a dramatic juxtaposition between the glitz and glamour of Miami Beach and Star Island and the intense poverty of neighborhoods such as Overtown and Liberty City that lay right across the bridge from those affluent areas.
Liberty City, the site of major riots in 1968 and 1980, has been chronically plagued with poverty, violence, and drugs amongst other issues that characterize many low income urban communities. The first Black Men's Roundtable which is headlined by Actor Charles Dutton, NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, and Congresswoman Frederica Wilson will focus on formulating solutions that will lead to substantive action to address the plight of the black male and the community at large.
In addition to Dutton, Thomas, and Wilson, three panels of local leaders such as Kionne McGhee, Dwight Bullard, Desmond Meade and Jimmy Brown will break down issues pertaining to violence prevention, health, education, finance, and civic participation as it relates to the black male. The Black Men's Roundtable represents the type of initiative that should be replicated nationwide at the grassroots level in order to begin to adequately respond to a crisis situation. The equivalent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) needs to be deployed internally from particularly affected communities to combat the bombardment of negative black male stereotypes, mass incarceration, gang influence, social injustice, educational inequity, parental neglect, and economic barriers that have coalesced to create the crisis that we currently face.