My Brother’s Keeper initiative working to close gap between opportunity and young men of color

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Boys and young men of color continue to see a gap between them and opportunity. The My Brother’s Keeper initiative is working to change that and held its annual conference in Columbus Wednesday.

Two mentors told NBC4 that it’s not always easy for young men to express their feelings. Art gives them an outlet to tell their inner thoughts and concerns without saying a word. The artwork all over the auditorium was displayed as young black men listened to affirmations about who they are and what they can accomplish.

Richard Duarte Brown said some of these young men aren’t hearing it at home or school.

“Truthfully, being abandoned or being not acknowledged is a lonely thing. You see it in so many people when you sit at the table people guard themselves and protect themselves,” said Brown.

Brown is an artist and mentor for My Brother’s Keeper. He and his former mentee Dente Wood-Spikes see firsthand the gap between opportunity and men of color.

“That’s when you lose yourself,” Wood-Spikes said. “It’s hard to believe you are with something. It’s hard to believe you have value. No one has told you you have a purpose.”

My Brother’s Keeper acknowledges that and is continually working to set goals and better streamline resources for youth of color. The students are given an outlet to express their inner thoughts through art.

“And when he said it, instead of me going like, ‘What did you say?’ he let it out and we were drawing. We just kept on drawing. What I’m saying is it creates this space where you feel like letting go of things or say things that you carry by yourself,” said Brown.

Each child has a different story to tell and a different experience.  These mentors are hoping to help unlock what’s in their minds and hearts one art piece at a time.

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