Editors’ note: Join BMe for their Random Acts of Community event on Monday, December 17th as they share stories of community service and support the cause of eradicating juvenile homelessness.
Every day, countless black men wake up in Baltimore and do their part to strengthen their communities. They run small businesses, mentor youth, volunteer at religious institutions, and raise their families. They are artists, coaches, students, fathers—regular guys from all walks of life—who contribute to their neighborhoods and change them for the better. It is rare that we have the opportunity to listen to them and celebrate their work, but a new initiative in Baltimore aims to highlight their stories in an effort to connect and inspire our city’s black men.
Black men are assets to our communities, and their efforts have a positive impact on all of our lives. Many programs exist with the intention of helping—or fixing—black men. What if we started viewing black men as the solutions to the issues around them? We can begin by shining a light on the stories of black men who are already doing the important and often unnoticed work of strengthening our city and inspiring others.
BMe, which stands for Black Male Engagement, is a growing network of brothers committed to making our communities stronger. Backed by some of the world’s leading foundations, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Open Society Foundation, BMe began in Philadelphia and Detroit in 2011, and recently launched in Baltimore in November 2012. BMe is collecting stories from black men in the city and inviting those men to join a network that will support them in their efforts. The goal is to celebrate all that they do, and to create spaces for them to connect with each other to share ideas and resources.
All of us can get involved in supporting this effort. Black men can join the BMe network by sharing their stories of how they strengthen their communities at bmecommunity.org. We can all nominate the black men in our lives to be recognized by BMe for doing their part. In addition to collecting stories, BMe is organizing events for men to come together to network, highlight achievements in fields like technology and education, perform random acts of service, and celebrate black men as change agents. In early 2013, BMe will ask men in the network to collaborate and propose collective community projects, some of which will receive resources to help make them happen.
Celebrating the contributions of black men in our city will encourage them to continue their work, and it will inspire other men to get involved and lead efforts to strengthen our communities. BMe aims to bring these men together to create a network that will serve as a powerful resource for us all.