Prior to September 12th 2009, had someone told me the blueprint for Black male success would arise from the state of Iowa I would have labeled them mentally deficient. Invited to share my expertise on the topic "The New Grinding: Expanding Your Consciousness as Your Life's Work," I was nonetheless excited to impart the merits of entrepreneurship to a group that seldom receives this message. It mattered not that this Fall retreat, titled "What's Stopping Us Now?", was being hosted for an assemblage of less than 50 students. I was eager to participate in The Hubbard Group's revolutionary approach to fostering a sense of Black collegiate community.
Before I delve into the specifics of the symposium, I find it fitting to give a little background info on how I came to participate. Exactly ten years ago, I had the privilege of dwelling in The Taft School's boisterous upper classmen dormitory a few doors down from Michael and Lena Hill. The newlyweds arrived at the posh boarding school just in time for my senior and most formative year of high school. Having determined that I would go on to become a virologist later in life, I caught bi-weekly rides to Yale's AIDS Institute with Mrs. Hill, who was completing her PhD there. During those 45 minute drives, I enjoyed our politically engaged discussions just as much as I cherished the frequent hip hop convos I had with her husband. At the conclusion of every discourse with the Hill's, I couldn't help but to feel the urge to read more books to keep up with the intellectual prowess of this brilliant couple. A full decade later, arrogantly convinced that I fit the criteria for being considered one of the greatest minds of the 21st Century, I jumped at the opportunity to join Dr. Michael Hill in his quest to foster a sense of Black collegiate community at The University of Iowa. While I set out to impress my mentor by providing valuable incite to an audience of Black male undergraduates, I ended up learning that A) the framework for Black male success hinges upon old and young minds converging to address issues that linger despite generational differences and B) I still need a pocket dictionary to keep up with the mental horsepower of the Doctors Hill :-)
I felt it necessary to divulge my prior relationship to the Hill's because they represent the first element in the blueprint for Black male success - role models. Not only has observing them made me want to seek enlightenment, improve my vocabulary, and become more articulate, they have shown me the beauty of equally yoked Black love. As Black males become more endangered, and Black families are more scarcely found in America, it is vital that our generation has people like the Hill's to emulate.
The Fall Retreat for Black Men, hosted by The Hubbard Group, boasted a room full of Black male role models. From University of Iowa graduate students, alumni, and professors, to Super Bowl winning football coach Carl Jackson, there were several figures from which the undergraduate attendees could glean advice. Three panel discussions were held. The first being "Are we There Yet? The Black Male and the Search for Collegiate Community," the aforementioned "The New Grinding: Expanding Your Consciousness as Your Life's Work," and finally "What's With a Mentor? The Value of Help in a Foreign Land." The 6 hour retreat was opened with a powerful speech from Michael Hill and closed with an interactive discussion about unlocking the clutch of White supremacy by Eddie Moore Jr., PhD.
In order to protect the Black race's most vulnerable component, the Black male, retreats like The Hubbard Group's must frequently occur in communities across the United States. According to the Schott Foundation for Public Education, only 41% of Black men graduate from high school in this country. Furthermore, National Student Clearinghouse recently published that just 22% of Black males who began at a 4 year college graduated within 6 years. There are countless other startling statistics I could reference showing the fragile state of Black male vitality in today's society. Thus, the sustainability of Black America hinges on isolating the imperiled Black male and making him the specific target of encouragement and mentoring. This is the blueprint for Black male success. Please watch and spread the video below: