Do You Fear Young Blackness?

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For Sick Empire, a podcast that I host, I interviewed multiple New Yorkers who work with children from underserved communities and I asked them about their experiences and challenges of remaining dedicated to working with children during the pandemic. My guests include a mix of socially minded people who work with youth groups living in underserved communities of New York City. Listen to hear the impacts of Coivid-19 on the city’s children from a spiritual youth leader, two executive directors for non-profit organizations that support the mental health of children in public schools, and the director of a program designed to uplift children whose parents are incarcerated.

One thing that came up in almost every interview was how obvious it was that some Black and Brown people in New York City, who live with more privilege and more access, are afraid of interacting with kids from the hood.

Especially the transplants who come here for the culture. It’s so ironic to me that the very kids who create the culture of New York City — the way we dance, the way we dress, the music, the art, the fashion, the slang — are the very same kids who the transplants in Brooklyn fear on the streets, or on the train, or in a bodega. The root of all fear is ignorance. We as Black and Brown people who have the means and the awareness to do better by our youth need to take bigger steps towards investing in our community’s marginalized youth. My friends and I are doing good, a lot of us have salary jobs and a lot of us have not had children of our own yet. Yet we are failing to mentor poor Black kids. We are failing to introduce ourselves to them and show up for them and give them opportunities to experience the things that we were so fortunate to experience.

This is a call to action. It’s time to start using our skills and our education to teach the youth who are ignored and or feared by society. We need to start taking time to actively cultivate relationships with organizations that are helping students grow. The time is over for us to look towards the white community and tell them what they are not doing right. The truth of the matter is that we are living in an environment that tells poor kids they are not good enough to grow.

What I’m talking about is a different type of revolution. This internal revolution that I’m talking about and it is not going to be easy, it’s not going to be Instagram cute. It’s going to be hard, and it’s going to feel like progress. Especially post-pandemic, the kids are not alright. They need our attention, our consistent consideration, and our love.

Sick Empire Episode 06, "The Children of the Pandemic," will be released to the public on Monday, June 13.