Black Men Lead Vision
The Need For Immediate Action
For nearly two decades, I have invested my energy and passion into understanding the force behind African American adolescent and young adult male violence. I not only discovered that this bend toward violence could be predicted in individuals but could also be mitigated.
I learned that proper racial socialization not only served to reduce the propensity for violence but also reduced the risk of dropping out of school and becoming incarcerated. Additionally, racial socialization increased the chance of success in the workforce. Young Black boys who were properly socialized became more financially responsible and were more likely to become business owners.
I initially created the Black Men Lead rite of passage initiative as a rite of passage program designed to socialize young Black males, especially those without men in the home. The program has evolved to include wraparound services for young Black males under 30. These services include mental health resources, skills training, and mentoring.
Mental health must become a central focus in the Black community, especially among young Black males where the rate of suicide has increased by almost 50 percent over the last 8 years. Additionally, the rate of intimate partner violence is also on the rise.
Our goal at The Odyssey Project is to create a national network where Black men across the country can access the resources they need and young Black boys can participate in a rite of passage program that can completely change the trajectory of their lives.
The Black Men Lead movement was birthed from a desire to inspire black men to abandon their natural proclivity to compete with one another in lieu of standing together in unity. One of the greatest impediments moving against black progression is the lack of black male leadership. Somewhere along the way, black men chose to abdicate their roles as leaders, providers, protectors, and coverings for those in their homes and communities. Self-aggrandizement became the new order of the day, and the finger-pointing began.
My vision for blacks as a collective group is the realization of our true potential, and that begins with the elevation and empowerment of our men. I have often said that the spiritual nature of our women can provide the altitude we need, but only our men can provide the compulsion necessary to move us forward. We can only get as high as our women can lift us, and we will only get as far as our men can lead us.
The Black Men Lead initiative should be seen as a resourced challenge to black men to stand up and behave like black men, leaving the childish behavior that lacks intrinsic value behind. It is both, a right of passage program for our Black male youth and a clarion call for our adult men. When I say resourced, I mean that we are not simply challenging black men to step up, we are going to provide them with the resources and guidance necessary to do it. It starts at the top and then it becomes infectious, spreading to all who are within our periphery.
We must adopt a mindset of leading with our lives more than we lead with our words. My mother once told me that I would never have to defend myself when I allowed the life that I lived to speak for me. That is how black men must lead. We must lead through the lives we live, and that is my vision — a nation of black men who are leading through the lives they live. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace, Ph.D.
Black Men Lead Mission Statement
The mission of Black Men Lead is to systematically engage the enigmatic issues that are plaguing the relationships between black men in order to free them to live and function in their design and purpose. We will confront those issues that create stagnancy and the lack of progress, such as lack of purpose, the need to compete with other black men, inferiority complex, the lack of understanding of black male responsibility, and the need to interpolate courage where fear has run rampant — beginning through our rite of passage program.
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We will use a national network to effectively engage men, and young boys, on every level. We will use all marketing and communications mediums available to us to propagate a message of elevation and empowerment. We will create an environment where mediocrity will be unacceptable, and greatness will be expected!
The Black Men Lead program will address many issues, including:
- Addressing the Identity Crisis that has plagued us for generations
- Integrating proper racial socialization
- Confronting Emotional Mental Stressors in Teens and Adult Males (A New National Focus)
- Developing a desire to lead and protect our women and children
- Addressing environmental challenges and peer influences
- Dealing with the fears and anxieties that most are afraid or ashamed to discuss
- Developing and understanding that nothing is greater than purpose & destiny
- Acknowledge that there are obstacles and challenges, but we are built for them
- Address fears and concerns
- Explain and emphasize the dangers of drug use and the destruction it causes
- Confront the proclivity for violence (Explaining the rise in aggression during adolescence and beyond — revealing that this aggression that is a response to a rise in testosterone levels is actually preparing them to be protectors of their communities — not destroyers.
- Setting High Expectations
- The standards have been set too low. We will raise the demands and the expectations for our male youth.
- Teaching them that they can not only prosper in this hostile environment, but that they can thrive in it, win in it, dominate in it…
- Instill the proper attitude and mindset as it pertains to money and the building of generational wealth
- Emphasizing the importance of developing the ability to effectively communicate, and how it will open doors for them
- Highlighting the power of an intelligent mind
- Clarifying the Possession of Power
- Teaching them that they are always in control of their destiny, because they control their decisions
- Focusing on the importance of developing the capacity to control their emotions and passions, and not allowing these forces to control them
- That women are the greatest test of their manhood, in more ways than one, and they must be up to the test
- How to maintain control over sexual compulsions that could place them in unfavorable positions
- Teaching Them That They are In Charge of Their Lives
- Stop looking outside of themselves for validation and acceptance
- The principles of internal and external authority
- Leaving the quitter behind
- Recognizing the Enemy
- How to understand the environment and surroundings they are operating in — being diligent to examine all who they encounter
- Defining the parameters of friend and foe — stop judging based on emotion and feelings
- Understand and respect differences in cultures, while always honoring and protecting your own
- The Foundation of Faith
- Developing a solid moral and ethical code
- Understanding that change is inevitable and they are built to adapt and dominate, despite the vicissitudes and changes that are sure to come
- Die on “E”
The Core Principles Taught at the Black Men Lead rite of passage initiative. “The Black man is exceptional beyond measure, but he must be willing to see beyond his conditions and the opinions of others to discover his potential to be great and to achieve extraordinary feats. He must never accept mediocrity and failure as a part of his destiny, instead choosing to write his own narrative. When he becomes committed to fulfilling his greatness, there is absolutely nothing that can stop him.” A Black man…
- Never harms, mistreats, or disrespects a Black woman (including females of all ages)
- Takes care of his progeny (offspring)
- Always has control of his emotions
- Works so that he can provide for his family
- Strives to build wealth for his family and offspring
- Understands the importance of ownership of businesses and property
- Is always in a state of learning and growing
- Takes responsibility for his own actions
- Seeks wisdom and knowledge from men in great situations and conditions
- Abides by a standard of excellence — never settling
- Never makes excuses for his failures — making the necessary adjustments to overcome them
Mental Health In Manhood
Dr. Wallace and the Black Men Lead rite of passage program has always incorporated the element of mental into its principles and protocols. However, the recent uptick in Black male suicides among men under the age of 30 has led to us creating a new component to the program that focuses on creating a space for Black men to seek help when they are struggling mentally and emotionally. Mental Health in Manhood is a holistic mechanism designed to offer Black males the tools and resources necessary to remain whole and healthy in an inherently hostile world.