Speaking with Authority – #WATWB

When I participate in this wonderful blogfest, I usually try to find a subject area in which I have some experience, or some insightful position from which to anchor my thoughts. That limits me to a small number of subjects. I’m not trying to be funny, it’s just a fact. Sometimes, when I have an interest in a subject, I can do a little research and put together a meaningful post. Then there are subjects where I just don’t feel I can be taken seriously. Educating black boys is such a subject. What do I know about that? I know we seem to do a poor job of it, but I don’t know how address that subject.

That’s why I’m sharing this article by Martellus Bennett from the Washington Post, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

As mentioned in the article, Bennett played in the NFL for 10 years and won the 2017 Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. He’s the founder of the Imagination Agency and author of the forthcoming “Dear Black Boy.” He speaks on this subject with authority and from a perspective that very few people can. He also points out the math I have long understood:

The stats prove I was the exception: Less than 2 percent of college football or basketball players go on to play in the NFL or the National Basketball Association. Just 8 out of every 10,000 high school football players get drafted by an NFL team. But for too many black boys, that’s still the only path to success that seems feasible. At the 65 universities in the biggest NCAA sports conferences, black men are 2.4 percent of undergraduate students but 55 percent of the football players and 56 percent of the basketball players.”

He wants something better for all black boys and, he wants something better for America. He’s not only speaking to black boys when he says:

There just aren’t that many heroes who look like we do outside of sports. We shouldn’t have to imagine being “the black Walt Disney” or “the black Steven Spielberg” to think about going into movies, “the black Steve Jobs” or “the black Bill Gates” to dream of being high-tech innovators, or “the black Stan Lee” to picture ourselves as comic book writers.

We can begin to change that — not just by integrating those mostly white realms but also by allowing black boys the space to dream differently. Accept them for who they show you that they really are. When you look at black boys, see them as the future writers, composers, chefs, tech moguls, presidents, film directors, architects, illustrators or fashion designers that they are. The world is more beautiful when we let black boys dream big.

He’s speaking to everyone.

I would urge you to read the article. Think about it and remember it if you are ever in a position where you have the opportunity to participate in this particular change.


The “We are the World” Blogfest has extended its year-long journey and is in its 21st month. This blogfest’s goal is to spread the message of light, hope and love in today’s world. We are challenging all participants to share the positive side of humanity. This month’s co-hosts: Sylvia McGrath, Peter Nena, Shilpa Garg, Inderpreet Kaur Uppal, and Belinda Witzenhausen welcome participants and encourage all to join in during future months. #WATWB is a blog hop on the last Friday of every month. Click HERE to check out the intention and rules of the blogfest and feel free to sign up at any time.

40 thoughts on “Speaking with Authority – #WATWB

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  1. I like the message of this one, Dan. While it is relevant for everyone to have the freedom to dream big and try to pursue that dream, there is a self-perpetuating cycle in many families and cultures to ‘learn’ that this is as good as it gets and there is no point in trying something different. Instead of support and encouragement from family and friends, a dreamer often gets met with ridicule and mistrust. It’s hard to break out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Joanne. It’s nowhere in the same ballpark, but being among the first children to go to college, I remember the “anti” pressure from family members. But you’re right, it is hard to break out.

      Like

  2. Wow! What a powerful and enlightening article Martellus Bennett authored. It’s a real eye opener to see things from his perspective….a meaningful learning experience. The color of a person’s skin should never dictate where their dreams can take them and what they’re capable of accomplishing.

    Thanks for sharing this Dan.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ginger, I think this is so much more meaningful given who wrote it. He could easily sit there and talk about how hard he worked and how well he did , but he chose to think about (and try to do something about) the issue that faces everyone.

      Like

  3. That’s such a wonderful initiative. The ‘space to dream differently’ is so important. I’m working with a nonprofit to save a school that does just that in New Delhi, and have seen first hand such a space can make, and the power of dreams. Thanks for sharing this article, Dan, and for continuing to support WATWB.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks so much for keeping the Project WHY school in mind. There are so many needs in this world, and all equally important. The kids the article speaks about and those I advocate for, all of them must have the space to dream different dreams.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. great article and great post, Dan. Those stats are staggering and hopefully some progress can be made in this area. It has to come from within the black community of course, with the further goal of the rest of America seeing black boys and men as just boys and men…lose the whole color thing. But I suppose that’s a post for another day

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. What I liked about this story is that it is coming from within the black community, and from a guy who has achieved the sports dream in the extreme but still wants more – for himself and for kids like him.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s a common thing in general to market someone by calling them the “next” Earnest Hemingway or the “Asian” Carol Channing. Marketeers believe it helps sell the product because people only buy known commodities. It is a limiting practice without a doubt. Harmful even.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh you’ve hit one of my impassioned spots, Dan. I get seriously angry crazy when kids talk about how they have to get an athletic scholarship, as if these are the only scholarships they can get. Even if you’re gonna get one of those it doesn’t negate additional scholarships! Why not get the academic one as well? So many options! I hate boxes and I hate seeing kids get placed in them, especially black boys, like they’re not cut out for other successes. Kids pullin 4.s in ALL AP classes talkin about sport scouts or limiting their options for college based on where they think they’ll get scouted or played. *swears at monitor* It is completely unreasonable to expect or demand a child become some professional elite athlete earning the millions when the odds are against him and I blame some parents, I blame some coaches, I blame society as a whole. It’s not just black boys, it’s a lot of kids, but yeah, pressure on the black athletes is preposterous! Sports are great (I’ve heard) but we can’t ignore intellect and natural talent and good gravy, I hope my grandkids have a heck of a lot more POC to look to for inspiration in a variety of fields, not exceptions to the rule, but just fact. We need to smash stereotypes over and over and over again. AND we’ve spent so much time trying to make up social inequity to girls, we need to remind boys they are people, too, and they’re worthy of support too. Gah. I have feelings. This is a hot topic. I spend a LOT of time with young people. Sorry.
    Anyway, great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do NOT apologize. People need to rant about this. Martin Luther King’s speech wasn’t “I can dunk” it was “I have a dream!” Parents, teachers, guidance counselors (swears at monitor) all need to see whole people and what they aspire to.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m always amazed when I read articles like Bennett and yours. My experience has been so different than what I read from others. I am part of a multicultural family in which the only part of the world not represented is the Middle East. Even at that, the high school I attended was over 50% Jewish and 1/5 was black [I guess the political correct turn is African-American.]. My life experience had taught me anyone can achieve anything. I rational know many people who are considered in the minority are having real problems achieving their goals. I just haven’t seen it in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are fortunate. I started out in a “diverse” neighborhood and school system. When I was about 10, we moved (to gain access to better schools) and life changed quite a bit. I feel lucky that I had those first 10 years to serve as a base of sorts. I’ve lost that perspective at times but it helps to remember it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Dan – I’ve tried to treat everyone as I would want to be treated … we’re all humans – but sadly I can see the challenges people face … and I can’t understand why people want to be negative to others … but we need leaders and people who can inspire others, and those who are charitable to all – so it’s good to read this sort of article and gain an insight into others lives – thanks … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

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