I mentioned the viral video “Suit and Tie” earlier. I would be remiss if I did not mention the awesome display of support at the April 28th board meeting. The first 1.5 hours were easily consumed between this and those who spoke in support of the Youth Assessment Center (including Anthony Cobb and other leaders in our community).
For starters, the meeting room was unusually packed. Packed with young black and latino men, their families, teachers, ministers, and friends. Not only was the video shown at the board meeting, but there was an overwhelming parade of sincere and genuine personal stories told, from biographical to anecdotal. We heard from those that led the video project, a pair of compassionate and passionate women who gave these young men a powerful voice and a place to stand.
The premise is at once both inspiring and perplexing. Especially as a white man, it is obviously harder for me to understand the pressures, expectations, jibes, taunts, ridicule and the unspoken drama that occurs on a daily basis for anyone of color. One might ask, why do young men of color need to show that they can dress nice? But what little I do understand tells me it goes way beyond just putting on a suit and tie; it is about respect, it is about rising above low expectations set by others. Perhaps most significantly, as was said many times at Monday’s meeting, was the act of throwing off harmful stereotypes. We, yes we white people, are way too quick to judge.
What is also amazing is how many doors this has opened. Not only the obvious Timberlake tie-in, but the chance to go to Springfield with Senator Frerichs as mentioned in today’s News-Gazette. And there are talks about more engagements. The social media landscape is ablaze with people talking about “Suit and Tie”, which continues to garner attention from big names and establishments.
I hope they do more videos like that. And I look forward to witnessing the ongoing conversation surrounding this epic milestone.