I have been asked many times what made you do it? What made you and Lance start BLACK MEN READ? I sometimes struggle to answer the question. You see this thing we are doing didn’t start from a warm and fuzzy happy place like we would love to say it did. It wasn’t because “two brothers with a passion for literature” decided to share their passion with the world. It wasn’t some storybook beginning for two bookworms who met in an HBCU library on the campus of a prestigious institution. It all started from a place of anger, a place of frustration. It’s nothing we are ashamed of or try to hide but we truly wish the start was different.
So how did BLACK MEN READ begin?
Picture the scene. Spring of 2017. A group, which consisted of myself, Lance and a handful of our black male friends, are discussing sports and the day’s events. In a single random moment it dawned on me that we were having way too many conversations about our outrage over police killings.
Eric Garner: killed by chokehold.
Michael Brown: shot and killed.
Sandra Bland: found dead in a jail cell.
Alton Sterling: shot dead while on the ground.
The list kept growing…
That’s sad but what does that have to do with BLACK MEN READ?
It never seemed like our outrage ever had a chance to fade away. Every time the inner fire started to flame out a new life was taken and gasoline was added to the fire. Each and every conversation in our GroupMe chat always ended with a question session.
Why is this happening?
Why don’t more white people care?
What can we do to stop this?
Are we being extinguished?
I can’t speak for the rest of my friends but I teetered between incurable rage and unshakable depression. I was always in a mood. Always on edge. Helpless, hopeless but most regrettably inactive. Yeah I voted in every election. Yeah I wrote some really thoughtful posts on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. SO WHAT! A tweet will not stop a cop from choking someone. An Instagram pic will not inspire a trigger happy racist to put away his gun and not shoot a small child. This world needed real action and Lance and I recognized this.
I hear you but you haven’t answered the question.
(SN: My inner voice is an annoying little bugger isn’t he?)
This desire for action is how BLACK MEN READ was born. We wanted to be a part of the change, to help our community but didn’t want to be two clowns babbling on about nothing and spewing recycled hashttaggle one-liners. As two college educated brothers we valued education and saw that as a gateway to being better men, agents for change and contributors for a better tomorrow.
So here we are! Two book dudes ready to help our community and make a real change. And as our way of getting armed for battle we choose to train our minds in books.
And that little annoying inner voice is how BLACK MEN READ came to be.