I came across an interesting article from Derby, England. A group of black men, aptly called Men of Black Ancestry, have decided to walk through the streets of Derby to promote positive black male role models. The men will walk through areas where gangs and violence between young men of color are rampant. The mission of the march is to garner the attention of some of the youth and provide them with alternative information and testimonies for black manhood. Man oh man, I wish there was more of this in Brooklyn. I live a block that's part gentrified Whole Fooders and part fourth-generation African-American working class. There are also a few lower-income families who unfortunately provide the drug-dealing and whatnot on the block. And yes, the drug-dealer element can be found anywhere. But I'm often bothered by my neighbors’ unwillingness to do anything about it.
Yesterday a group of middle-aged and retired black men were chilling on a stoop. Their grandchildren were riding their bikes and scooters up and down the sidewalk. And a young drug dealer sat on another stoop, rolling a blunt, as the children stopped playing and basically sat at his feet in awe. The older men? Did not say a word. I once made an attempt to pass out flyers about a poetry reading over at the Brooklyn Public Library to a few kats on my block. The poetry reading promised a chance at the mic as well as an opportunity to meet other local poets. Later that evening the flyers were balled up and sitting curbside. I admire the Men of Black Ancestry in Derby. That takes guts and focus and a big heart. Has anyone out there made the extra effort in the neighborhoods?
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.