The leading cause of death among black youth from the ages of 10 to 25 is homicide. Of more than 17,000 homicides committed in 2006 in the United States, 49 percent of the victims were black, and 93 percent of the killers of black men were also black.
We desperately need solutions; good intentions are not good enough.
Recording artist John Mayer says in his song, "We are waiting on the world to change." Unfortunately, we can't wait for the world to change -- we must be the change we want to see in our community. Now!
We have an opportunity to start making that change Saturday when Project Uplift has its Second Annual Male Youth Leadership Conference at the Mary Stuart Rogers Student Center on Modesto Junior College's west campus from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registration begins at 8 a.m.
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The conference targets black males from ages 9 to 18, but all young men are encouraged to attend. They will be able to take part in workshops on conflict resolution, how to treat women, health and wellness and incarceration. There will be a forum on violence prevention.
The keynote speaker will be Joe Marshall, co-founder of the Omega Boys Club in San Francisco and an international expert on violence. Marshall hosts the syndicated radio talk show "Street Soldiers" and has been featured on the "Oprah Winfrey Show."
In the afternoon, there will be a panel discussion featuring Marshall, law enforcement, educators, students, parents and corrections officials discussing ways to identify and isolate the causes of violence and the consequences and cures.
Conference organizers hope to provide a foundation for the positive development of black male youth, so that they can become healthy and productive contributors to society and so that they can help provide solutions to the epidemic of black-on-black violence and youth violence in general.
The conference will also serve as a recruiting opportunity for Project Uplift (Utilizing Positive Leaders to Inspire Future Talent) mentors. We are also looking for youth interested in taking part in the Men's Group Leadership Academy. Project Uplift is dedicated to improving the lives of young black males and other underrepresented males through mentoring, education, leadership, service and providing positive father figures.
W.E.B. Du Bois once said, "The chief problem in any community cursed with crime is not the punishment of the criminal, but preventing the young from being trained to crime."
The answer is for parents and mentors to work with young
people. These two groups, working together and with the right mix of community support, can reverse youth violence and prevent gang involvement.
This year's conference is dedicated to the memory of David Cingcon, the young man who was viciously beaten to death in March. His parents will provide opening remarks.
Sponsors include: MJC; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity; Delta Iota Iota chapter of the Stanislaus County Office of Education; OCAT Inc.; Men's Group Ltd.; Stanislaus Multi-Cultural Health Coalition; West Modesto/King-Kennedy Neighborhood Collaborative; Modesto City Schools; Arco am-pm Fifth and I; For Brothers; Kiwanis Club; Anthem/Blue Cross; Center for Human Services; Wells Fargo Bank; and the city of Modesto Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Department. For more information, call 204-7521.
Ervin is president of the King-Kennedy Center board of directors and will be a visiting editor with The Bee from July through September.