“We had started out with the same negative perception as anyone else, that there is a problem with black men that needed fixing,” Trabian Shorters said. “But then we find all of these unsung heroes. We have all of these black men not getting credit for being part of the solution while, at the same time, the black man is being viewed by society as a poster child for the problem. That was stupid.” Shorters, the founder of BMe Community (for Black Male Engagement), an organization working to change the negative image of what is going on in the nation's black community by focusing on all the good being done by black men.
Shorters recently sat down for an interview with the Washington Post's Courtland Milloy to discuss the work of the BMe Community and a recent survey funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Prior to forming the BMe Community project, Shorters served as as Vice President for Communities at the Knight Foundation, where he managed a $300 million grant portfolio. The Knight Foundation's survey gauged the civic participation of black men in Detroit and Philadelphia; what they found was "eye-opening" according to Milloy. Black men are already very much active citizens, serving "as mentors, coaches, chaperons and chauffeurs, in churches and schools, as employers giving opportunities to ex-offenders, who in turn were helping to steer youths away from prison."
Trabian Shorters work and the Knight Foundation's survey are good reminders that we already have many engaged citizens working to improve our local communities. The SOPM Lantern hopes that we can help shine a light on these efforts and encourage others to join in.