By Edward Henderson

On Friday, February 17th, RISE San Diego hosted its most recent conversation in their Inclusive Leadership Breakfast Series entitled ‘Raising Boys of Color: Helping our Boys and Young Men of Color Be Safe, Resilient, Successful, and Inclusive Leaders’. The sold out event was held at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Development and featured a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Zachary Green, Associate Director of the Leadership Institute at the University of San Diego. Rise hosts the Breakfast Series every third Friday of the month.

Panelists included Agin Shaheed (Program Manager for the San Diego Unified School District Race/Human Relations and Advocacy Office), Dr. Luke Wood (Director and Associate Professor, Community College Leadership at San Diego State University), David Valladolid (President and CEO of the Parent Institute for Quality Education), Dr. Ticey Hosley (Professor in Counseling at Grossmont Community College) and Dr. Guadalupe Corona (Vice President for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at Southwestern College).

Attendees enjoyed a catered breakfast and even took part of the conversation during brief breakout sessions at their tables. Dr. Green guided the conversation which covered personal experience raising men of color, priorities that need to be set in order to ensure their success, and issues in the education system surrounding black men and how to resolve them.

“In California we’re looking 84% of Men of Color who are in post-secondary education are in our community college system,” said Dr. Wood. “Much of the energy that takes place is focused on what we’re doing at our 4 year institutions, which is great, but it’s not where they’re at. Then targeting interventions to those specific areas.”

Dr. Corona followed with a few areas where we should have hope looking forward in our educational systems.

“One is personal responsibility. People are coming together because we see our children in need and that we know the best way to do this work is to do together. It’s great that we have committees that talk about the problem, but the people that have the solutions are not at the table discussing how we can solve it. That’s why manful and courageous conversations need to happen.”

Shaheed spoke more on the personal responsibility he took while raising his children.

“Teachers should be accountable to provide a curriculum that demonstrates the progress of Africans in the Americas,” said Shaheed. “But I made sure my children went to plays, museum and places that exist in the community to re-inforce their identity. I was once told by an elderly person if you don’t talk to your children, then they’ll talk to somebody else.”

Dr. Hosley also shared her experience raising her sons and the fears she has associated with them being away from home in today’s racial climate.

“One of my sons is in naval nuclear power school in Charleston, SC. We went to his graduation and as soon as I got off the plane, I could feel the difference of being there. What keeps me up at night is knowing that people don’t see my sons as I see my sons. I’ve had this conversation with them many times. Trying to explain to them how society sees them is difficult.”

Valladolid hinted to the importance of uniting to overcome the challenges we’re facing to protect our young men.

“With the election of Trump who is now moving towards creating a country divided, we now more than ever have to follow the words of A Phillip Randolph ‘You get what you’re organized to take.’”

Dwayne Crenshaw, CEO and Co-Founder of RISE San Diego was pleased with the turn out for this month’s conversation and wants to continue to mobilize others to be present for future conversations.

“The reason you need to be here is to understand the issues affecting our community and realize that there are other people out here trying to fix it. You’re not on your own.”

For tickets to next month’s breakfast which will focus on young women of color, visit www.risesandiego.org.

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