The last day of the week-long conference was held at Childs Park YMCA, and was geared towards single mothers raising black boys alone. Author and social entrepreneur David Miller conducted a workshop based on his “Dare to be King” initiative, which has changed the landscape for providing mentoring and youth development programs by offering a structured, relevant curriculum to engage youth.
Dr. Christopher Warren, project coordinator of Figuring It Out for the Child (FIOC) in the Family Study Center at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg (USFSP) and a myriad of local and nationally recognized speakers kick-started a discussion throughout the city addressing misconceptions and stigmas surrounding young black males.
Raising strong, healthy black boys is difficult, but especially when there is no father in the household.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 73 percent of black children live with their mothers or grandmothers. That means that these children are being raised with only one support system.
“In many cities we’re talking 85-90 percent of our children are being raised by a mother,” stated Miller, noting that a lot of black people do not participate in the census so the numbers are actually higher.
To hear individual stories, Miller broke the audience out into groups where at least one male was present. He provided the men with questions to ask group members, which led to lengthy discussions.
“The goal is not to be judgmental or putting people’s business out on the street, but the goal is to have a safe opportunity to talk about the issues that we are concern with as mothers and parents as it relates to raising boys.”
The questions dealt with the challenges of raising a male child from teaching lessons to them and where to get help.
Miller advised organizations to get out of the office buildings and walk the streets to see where the need is in creating programs for the youth.
“If you really want to know what to do, you need to talk to the dudes standing on the corner,” he said.
His advice to parents was to monitor their children’s technology.
“Your child has a Facebook page and you look at it every once in a while and it just seems that they are having conversations about school, but they may also have a Snapchat page that you know nothing about. I find this happening consistently. You think you have such a great child, but on Snapchat it’s something totally different.”
For those mothers that are raising a child and the father aren’t on same page as them, he told them it will take a lot of work, but it is possible.
“You aint gotta like this dude, but the reality is you liked him at some point,” Miller said. “The ability to build community is predicated on adults, we have to get our stuff together. You might not need a man, but your child needs a man.”
The week-long event was sponsored in part by the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Healthy Start and other organizations.