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OneRouge Community Check-In: Week 194

Stereotypes are a hard thing to surpass. Think lazy and shiftless to a brute who cannot be trusted around decent, respectable women or even a thug who rightly has no place in civilized society. Race need not be mentioned here because we all know those are stereotypes attributed to Black men. But what is really going on? And why?


We can certainly point to the storied history of disenfranchised Black male voters. Black men historically remain un- or under-employed. Black men and boys have been incarcerated at an astronomical rate as the result of the war on drugs, but are now also suffering exponentially from overdose. There have been decades of scholarship pointing to Black boys having lower GPAs than their counterparts because of socio-economic discrepancies. Poor Black boys have a greater propensity to remain in poverty. Are these natural and predictable outcomes?


Despite the predominant narrative to be Black males being inherently criminalistic in nature, who is really in danger? Are these assertions even true? Is this unintended outcome for Black boys expected because of this persistent story? Systemic oppression is the gift that keeps on giving to Black boys. But how do we even start to fix this?


The topic will be "The natural habitat of a crab is not a barrel: Support for Black men and boys in Baton Rouge".  Learn with us as we hear from our featured speakers:



Casey Phillips: We made it to Friday. And they said it's going to be another impactful time together. We are going to get into our topic in about five minutes, but first and foremost, we wanted to turn over the time. We're going to start with Mr. Alvin Smith from Our Lady of the Lake clinic. There's a really impactful event coming folks, and we wanted to make sure and create some space. It really ties in well to our conversation on housing last week. And that's it. It just continues to build on that work. Mr. Smith, thank you so much for being here with us today and your five minutes begin, sir. 

Alvin Smith: Thank you. And I'm Alvin Smith. I'm the manager of social services with the Lake Physicians Group at Our Lady of the Lake, and I'm also the team lead for our social determinants of health initiative in the Lake Hospital and in the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System. We have a very special presentation on March the 6th to the community, 8 o'clock in the morning, Dr. James O'Connell from Boston who has been working with the homeless for the last 40 years. We'll be presenting to us. He was conscripted to go to a homeless shelter in 1985 and the nurses running the shelter told them that they didn't want him there because he didn't know how to work with their people. And so he said, what do I need to do? And they trained him and how to look at this population that We often don't see very positively when they knock on our window or when they come up to our car or when we see them in the street. And Dr. O'Connell has a very compassionate view and understanding of these of the situation. And he'll just be presenting to us in the community. And to me there's two purposes. One, this group can get inspired by what he's done and looking at different ways of of telling others about the work that we do. But also my hope is that people who don't really get it and who don't really understand the needs of the homeless in our area will also be able to go and see a different perspective because he does not treat homeless people. He treats people who don't have a place to live. It's a very different way of looking at things and I just encourage you all to come to that. It will be a continental breakfast. It's free, open to the public. It'll be at the Baton Rouge Marriott on the 6th of March, which is Wednesday at eight o'clock in the morning. And he'll conclude it at 9:30. So that's basically it. I think I got two more minutes, Casey. 

Casey: We can talk about all kinds of things in those two minutes, my friend, but Alvin, thank you for sharing that. And we'll be putting the flyer into the chat.  And we encourage everyone in one room, just specifically the folks that are working around housing and everything that is the wraparound services around that. And also before I turn it back over to Pepper I wanna make sure and lift up 'cause she's not going to say it. So Pepper's a TV star yesterday, y'all. And as well as with Miss Nichola Hall. And that said, and that's also on the call right now on the work that One Rouge and The cafe leadership team has been doing around the summer EBT program. So I'll drop that link into the chat so you all can see pepper up on the big screen along with Nichola and and there she is. Oh, everybody's here. And I said, then if you're not familiar you all have been on the Friday call, so you know about this work around the summer EBT program. And I just want to make sure and lift up the work that Helena and Nichola and Jan. And Pepper and everybody on the One Rouge team has been doing to work with our local state officials on this. So I'll put it into the chat and Pepper, over to you.

Pepper Roussel: So yes I had to stop myself because Dr. Hall was leading the charge and I'd so appreciate everything that we have had an opportunity to do this far. One of the things that I find interesting is that we have, we spend a lot of time talking about what black men and black boys do and don't do and how it all seems to be tied to some level of criminality, but it wasn't until all of a sudden, all of a sudden, I say it wasn't until Jason Hughes from New Orleans a couple of days ago mentioned in passing that certainly being hungry might have something to do with crime that all of a sudden we started thinking about possibly there's a connection here and there. And this morning we are going to be sharing a little bit of time to talk with each other about  solutions. We all know what the problems are. They happen.  All the time, and so we've got some folks who are coming with some information, which will make me very happy to hear about how it is that we can support our black men and boys because  a barrel is not a natural habitat for a crab. We'll start with Monisha just because she's over here on the left hand side and she got here first. So Monisha, please let us know who you are, what you do and what we need to know about it. Your five minutes starts now.  

Monisha Pack: Good morning, everyone. My name is Monisha Pack. I am the program manager over partnerships with safe, hopeful, healthy Baton Rouge through the mayor's office.

So our initiative is focused on gun violence rooted in the community. So we do all efforts of prevention and intervention as possible. And it's good to see 100 Black Men who are a core partner of ours on the call as well. So just speaking to the work that we're doing, we have started our men's circle in the which started in December for our young black boys and men just to give them a safe space just to be able to connect, grow, heal, share amongst each other. So far we've had five sessions and over those five sessions we've had at least 65 men and boys in attendance. These have been happening biweekly since December in the community. But we are looking to try to grow those and bring them to other communities as well as bring them into the school systems if possible. And as well extend that to women eventually. But right now the focus has been on our young black men and boys as well. If you have any questions, if you're interested in getting connected to those, we're always looking for men. Who want to be mentors or just be an ear to listen. You can definitely reach out to me. My email is I'll send that information over to Miss Pepper following the call with our flyer and my contact information. But we would love to have all on board to support us and just to keep this initiative moving forward. 

Pepper: You have tons of time left, but I've got a couple of questions for you before we open it up to the general public. And it may seem super question, but if we're mentoring black men, black boys, do you have to be a man to volunteer?  

Monisha: You do not have to be a man. We just created this space just for our men. And let me speak a little bit more to who's been facilitating this. We do have our peace brokers, so those are like our high risk interventionists that are out there in the community doing the work. So they're the ones been connecting to these youth and these young men and inviting them and bringing them into this space. So right now that's been where the spill has been, but we're open to have anybody who wants to connect with these youth who are doing great work in a community that can help us just decrease crime across the Ben Rouge area. 

Pepper: And your peers, do they have any special connection to violent crimes or to gun violence or is it just anybody who's been, what are the credentials 

Monisha: For the peace brokers are just for anybody? So the peace brokers are people that have lived experience right and so more majority of them are from specific areas. So we may have somebody representing the Zion City area. We may have somebody who's from the Glen Oaks area, South Baton Rouge. Those specific people have been set apart just to be interventionists in those specific communities. We've noticed that, they have an ear to the ground, right? So they know the language, they know the area and they know how to just hop in and do the work.  

Pepper: Fantastic. I'm still going to submit my my. Order, because I want one of those t shirts, man. I better get a sweatshirt. 

Monisha: We just talked about that yesterday. Courtney was like, we need to just keep some in stock because they're a hit this year. So I, we got to figure it out. We got to figure out, we got to move some money around. Sounds like it.  Nice.

Pepper:  So tell for those of you who are not at the Tuesday Safe, Hopeful, Healthy meeting, Monisha, let us know what the gear looks like and what's the tagline? 

Monisha: I'm glad you say that because I actually have it on. You can see it a little bit. Look, but it's what I'm talking about. Yes. It's the Peace over Everything is our initiative this year. It's been a hit and I love it. I think it just. It crosses all genres and everybody's feeling it. So we're loving it. And we're just out there promoting peace over everything, everywhere that we go. 

Pepper: I like how you did that. I saw that.  Thank you, ma'am. All right. So don't go anywhere because we're going to need you in a bit. Anthony Kenny with 100 Black Men. Please let us know who you are, what you do and what we need to know about it. Your five minutes starts now.

Anthony Kenny:  All right. So good morning. Good morning. My name is Anthony B. Kenny. I serve as a deputy director for 100 black men on Metro Baton Rouge. For those of you not familiar to 100, we're an organization that's been in Baton Rouge for 31 plus years. The 100 started at Baton Rouge. That was a coalition of black entrepreneurs and businessmen who saw a need to get in front of crime in the community for youth. And so they created a chapter 100 Black Men, a Metro Baton Rouge. We recognize that we're all youth based mentor organization that we meant for youth young men and women in the Baton Rouge community because we believe every child deserves the opportunity to become a holistic leader in society. And so we cherish this knowing that we're one of the organizations on the ground. In Baton Rouge, they have impacted thousands of kids from education, economic empowerment, mentoring and leadership development. We so much excited to continue to grow. We're an organization of all men. We have over 150 men in our organization from a cross section of job titles, organizations, businessmen, community leaders just men who care, right? Who care to get into the community and actually make an impact for youth? I think mentoring is so key for anybody because we believe everybody needs a mentor, right? You come for the most wealthy side of the community. You come from the most economically disadvantaged side of the community, right? And we want to make sure we reach and impact as many kids as possible. We impact youth all the way from fifth to twelfth grade. And so we have so many diverse array of programming, mentoring, programming, wraparound services to impact youth in the community. So we excited to be one of those notable organizations. Then when people call on to impact youth my phone be ringing, but. That's a good problem, right? Because we understand that as a need in the community to impact you to be in front of you. But most of all I kids have to see there are men, especially black men in the community who cares about the youth and want to see the youth become successful 

Pepper: With 43 seconds to spare. All right. Stupid question. And I'm happy with it being a stupid question. That's 100 black men. Are we talking about the boys who become men? Are we talking about? Is there a split between men, male mentors and 50 black boys become men. Help me understand the 100 Black Men, the blackness of the men who are the men and who are the black people.

Anthony: So we're a chapter of the larger 100 black men of America. So the 100, the name 100 are signify solidarity, right? Cause you think about 100, you signify as like a large group of people. So we're 100. Men, right? Because we do have some non black members at our organization as well, but we are one over 100 men black men in the organization. That kind of gears towards in the community. So now it's not just split, but it just show that solidarity number 100. We think about 100, you think about a lot. So that's why my organization coined it 100 black men. 

Pepper: No, sir. When I think of 100, I think of ST Augs marching band. That is all. That is all.  Nevertheless. So help me, Andrew. So how do you get to a, I was looking for one more person, but he's not here yet. Anyway how do, what is the process to get involved? Monisha said, the send her an email. Is there a website? How do we learn more?  So for us we take in new members every year, right?

Anthony: It's open to any male that's over the age of 25. For us, we also have a collegiate arm of our organization called collegiate 100. So we have a collegiate chapters at Southern University, LSU and BRCC. And so it's a co ed organization that have men and women college. students who followed the same kind of pillars and guidelines of our organization. But for the main 100 black men as long as you're a male over the age of 25 have a heart for community come on over, apply. And so we're, we were all, we're open to any male who's open to really make an impact in our community.  

Pepper: And I know you mentioned, and Manisha, this is for you as well. Anthony, I know that you mentioned that no matter what social strata that you come from, that you need a mentor. You need an advocate. You need somebody to guide you through a process that you do not, may not have any personal knowledge with or may not have any per anybody in your immediate family or immediate network who can help guide you through Who are these kids? Are these kids that who are being recommended by, say, a guidance counselor? Are these kids who are justice involved? Are these kids that you said you've got a collegiate arm? That does not mean that these things are mutually exclusive. Talk to me and explain where do the kids come from?

Anthony: So we see a cross section of kids that we impact, right? And we try not to have a hard criteria because you have kids who are high achievers, right? Who may not come from a single parent household. So you have a lot of parents who bring their kids to us who need that male stand in, right? That male figure in their life. And so a lot of times we see ourselves filling in that gap. One of our bigger programs are key programs called project Excel. So we have  40 young men from grade six to 12th grade from high schools and middle schools all over Baton Rouge that we see in parallel with the academic school year. And we teach them key life skills, social skills, emotional development skills, right? Because their parents come to us knowing that they need a mentor in a male role figure in their life, right? I would say on average, probably about 60 percent of the young men when we have in our project excel program come from single parent households. And so when we see that in our numbers, we understand a lot of mothers come to us. Grandmothers come to us. When they interview with their kids, they say they just need that male figure, right? They just need that male ear, that male person. Often times, a lot of kids  Don't really open up to their parents, right? But when they see somebody who looks like them, who talks like them who listens to the same music, same thing, wear the same clothes, right? They open up a little more. And so when we see that in our Saturday sessions we understand that it's so important to really sit down and talk to these young men.

We understand what so much crime and so much negativity is oftentimes around our community. These kids just want somebody to come talk to. And a lot of these kids see their family. friends, family members go down the wrong path. And sometimes they talk this about, they wish they would have those friends and family members. Young men, they know who went down the wrong path. They would have had a mentor. They would have somebody who would have told him, Hey, don't go down that wrong path for somebody who would relate to them and say Hey, that's not the right path. It's so much more beyond like the city limit bounds of Baton Rouge. We're gonna see a decline in the community. And we see many, so many different kids from many different parts. Kids used Who go to Baton Rouge High kids who go to, kind of those schools people saw on a top tier, right? But their kids who understand no matter where they get on the GPA scale, they want a mentor. They want somebody who looks like them to talk to them and God help them guide them through life. 

Monisha: And I'll just piggyback what Anthony just said. So for us with Safe, Hopeful, Healthy, we are school based. We do have a Safe, Hopeful, Healthy classroom in five schools. So that's Glen Oaks, McKinley, Capitol Scotlandville, and we're working on Estroma. So those are some of the youth that we get referrals from, just interacting with them along with Big Buddy in the classroom setting. We do, with our peace brokers being on the ground, they are to engage in a lot with the community. So that a lot of the youth that we deal with are, products of. Victims of violence, or they have siblings who have been engaged in violence, and so we're trying to save them before we lose them as well.We would say a lot of our kids are just at risk high risk youth. So we usually target kind of the youth that are in the school systems as well as the youth that we're dealing with on the ground that have been involved in some act of violence.

Pepper: So I got another stupid question, and I admit to being stupid and I'm okay with that.  Can we help me understand at risk, high risk? And I can tell you this now, just telling me that they come from a single parent household is not,  thank you Manny, is not it.  Because, as a black woman who functioned as a single parent for a good little while, they were not at risk just because they didn't have a father in the house. So help me frame what does that mean? Does that mean the neighborhood they live in? Does that mean the. Opportunities that are available. I don't know what this is, but I know I hear it a lot. 

Monisha: Yeah, so we did an activity about that at the ecosystem mean just thinking about their surroundings their environment, the things that they're engaging in. So we noticed that they're involved in a certain group, maybe that may be a violent group. So we're trying to watch out for them in particular. Maybe they're not high risk yet, but they're at risk because we see that their friendships are surrounding certain groups in the area that have been known to engage in violent acts. So we're just watching and just making sure that they don't enter into that high risk area. Now, high risk would be someone that we know has engaged in violent activity. So we're trying to keep them from obviously ending up in jail or losing their life. So we, and even at risk, maybe a sibling who has lost another, parent or sibling to gun violence. So we're just trying to monitor them to keep them in that level and not at high risk and lose them as well. 

Pepper: Is that Anthony? Is that what y'all, is that the same way that y'all are looking at the, at high risk?  

Anthony: Yeah, most definitely. I'll piggyback off. Monisha said those students who in high proximity in those type of situations, environments, right? Because oftentimes you have a lot of kids who have no other choice but to be in those communities, right? Could you think about kids, for example? Who come from different neighborhoods, such in North side of Baton Rouge, and people see as more highly criminal side, which is not completely true, honestly. But when you have kids in as proximity of those type of issues, social issue, economic issues, and to where even criminal issues, right? Those kids could be a high risk, but those could be some great kids. But when they're in that type of environment it's a high chance they could be susceptible to those type of situations. Such as Monisha said. 

Pepper: Flitcher Bell see ya head going back and forth. What you got? 

Flitcher Bell: Good morning, Pepper. No, I agree with Mr Kennedy said. I went, I'm from Eden Park neighborhood. I went to Eden Park. I went to Capitol High School, things of that nature. I still say we graduated Capital High that year with 267  people. But only 29 went to college. And if you don't see it, you can't be it. And if you're around more positive things, if you set your goals higher, if you actually see it, then you have the belief that you can obtain it. If you're at the black man, that's coming to mentor. If there are judges, if there are police officers, if there are teachers, if there are people in positive models, then people can start saying, okay, I see he did it. I know I can do it because there's some from the same. Grain that I am and they have the same understanding and it's obtainable. But if a person never sees what's obtainable, then they lose sight. And if all they see is violence, if all they see is drug dealing, and if all they see is things of negative nature, then that's what they're going to strive for. 

Anthony: And kind of piggyback, excuse me, Miss Pepper, this kind of, and I agree 100 percent with what you said, Brother Bell, because one of the things is kids have to have exposure, right? And you have to expose kids to things they're not used to, they do not see in their community, they're not exposed to on a daily basis. Just like Brother Bell, I went to high school in North Baton Rouge, I went to Scotlandville Magnet High School, where for me oftentimes a lot of people think you come from that side, but inside of that neighborhood, you're not going to go to college. You're just gonna go work at the plant, which is nothing wrong with that. But that just because so many people have to preconceive notion that those type of students who come from those type of neighborhoods, it's not going to go beyond a neighborhood. So that's why it's so much important organization like ourselves, safe, hopeful, healthy give these type of platform and exposure to these youth and high risk use because, oftentimes A lot of times you see the core of a lot of crime is about a lot of kids don't have access to resources. And so if you're not exposing those kids to resources exposing those kids to what's beyond what they're used to, what they see on social media, what they see on their neighborhood, in front of their house oftentimes they're just going to get used to it and that's all they're going to know. And sometimes that's all they're going to resort to because their mind is not beyond what they're used to or seeing on a daily basis. 

Pepper: So I am going to I'm priming the pump. I'm letting y'all know. I'm gonna ask, what are we the collective doing in order to fix the actual problem? So if there is a, if there is mass sickness amongst fish inside of a tank, we do not try to heal the fish without changing the water, without changing the environment, without changing whatever it is that's pumping the poison into the water. But I'm going to give you a second to think about that because that's a big one. And I'm looking, where is my friend Tekoah Boatner and her beautiful new profile picture? Child, I see you. So Tekoah and I have been talking back and forth about some of the new initiatives.  Initiatives is such a start, but proposals that are coming out from the the governor and how it is that we are actually going to be moving in these different spaces, but on the heels of again to mention Jason Hughes and his bill, but also looking in the chat and seeing Nichola is asking for us to sign people up to get summer meals. Help us. Understand what does this look like through the lens of your organization and how it is that you provide services. I can't hear you. 

Tekoah Boatner: How about now?  

Pepper: Yes, ma'am. I can. 

Tekoah: Okay. All right. Good morning, everyone. I've often said that If you want to be able to test and I'm not the only one who says this, but you want to understand what's going on in the environment, look at the state of the children, right? And the biggest thing that's impacting our youth are the adults around them. And that's just plain and simple for me today, Peppa, you started me on a Friday, but there's a bunch of traumatized adults in all of these systems that are trying to navigate assistance when they cannot Turn that inward and understand that they're bringing the toxicity they're trying to rid them out of these kids are not at risk or high risk of anything. They are experiencing the weight of the societal environment that we've created. So what this looks like is your main adults who are youth 18 year old 18 year olds do not have clear pathways into employment, education Or housing, and none of the programs around mine included are sufficiently funded to manage that issue. Did I actually answer the question?

Pepper:  Look, you know what,  Alfreda told me that you are taking Alfreda's spot today. I'm gonna have to put you on mute. I don't know what's going on. You coming with the heat this fine Friday. Talk to me.  Don't go far. I don't disagree that The nonprofits are underfunded and need more resources in order to provide wraparound services that should be provided by I don't know, not them necessarily, but what can we do in order to fix this environment? I'm going, but I gave y'all time to think about it. So what can we do to fix the environment? How can we reach across the aisle. How can we affect some change that will support our black men and boys? 

Tekoah: All right, I'm gonna step in. I was trying to be nice, but not less. I always want to go back to the root of that. And yes, still talking about the adults. But if we're talking about our black men and boys and we need to address the narrative that we still do not provide enough spaces for them to be safely vulnerable within our communities. Again, the primary emotion that young black boys are allowed to express is anger.  Any other type of emotion gets responded to as a quizzical thing that either needs to be overly medicated or locked up away. But if they're angry, we have a result, we have a solution for that. And it's browbeating you into some type of submission and making you perform your worthiness. Other than just letting you sit in a room with somebody who will listen and let you emote and say, this does not feel good. And we need more places of wellness to get ahead of the high cost intervention. Separation from school is another adverse childhood experience.  Who causes the separation from school? Schools.

Pepper: So it is my understanding as a non mental health provider that anger is a secondary emotion. It sounds like the peace brokers and the 100 Black Men are working towards or at least providing some level of or some amount of space for these black men and boys to have these, but do we need to scale y'all I don't understand what needs to happen what y'all need what we need to do.

Anthony: I think the obvious answer is resources, right? But one thing I learned during my time working at the 100 we cannot just let, how can I phrase this?  Oftentimes you could just say it, we don't have time for, we look to the same, not to the same, but we look to the always, to the same, three to four, five organizations to where this need to be a community approach, right?

Because everybody just. Obviously, we don't have, I don't say we don't have the infrastructure, but we don't obviously have the infrastructure to impact every single child in Baton Rouge, right? That's impossible. But that's why we need a collaborative approach, so many different organizations to understand the work and what we have to do on a daily basis. Because a lot of people Say what they think they know about black men and boys but organizations like us, organizations like Safe Hopeful Healthy Baton Rouge are on the ground bootstrap really talking to these young men working on a daily basis. And so I think we need to have more organization outside of those is already working with us, such as Safe Hopeful Healthy Baton Rouge and us to really come inside space and really learn right. And I think that is the only way for them to really Understand and accept, not accept, but really just internalize what these young Black men and boys is going through, right? Because I don't expect somebody who don't come from my community, who's not a Black male, who's not a Black man, to understand as a Black man in Baton Rouge, when am I going to let you come down and sit down and talk to me and understand what is going on in my community. So we definitely need more collaborative approaches from organizations that don't traditionally work with young Black men and boys. And then I think from there. So many much room growth for opportunity and collaboration will happen. Even resources, right? You look at it right now in the legislature, a lot of these crime, potential crime bills and legislation is going to affect young black men and boys. Also, they're the root of it. And we just have to have overall collaborator, collaboration, all different levels of government organizations, community. Everybody right. But outside of the obvious has a resource in it and improve infrastructure. I think everybody just need to come to the table and listen to us, the organizations who are doing the work to understand totally what is going on the community. When people look at crime, unfortunately, they look at The high statistic of young black males and boys is the one that are tainted to crime. And if they want to look at that statistic saying young black men and boys are the ones that are committing the most crimes in the community. I would say for the solution, come and see why they're acting this way. Come and see why they have to go to the rhetoric of crime, right? Because you're not going to understand sitting in chair country club on the other side of Prairieville, Gonzales, right? You got to come. Two northbound rules. You've got to come to signs that you've got to come to Scotlandville and see on a daily basis. What are these kids going through on a daily basis compared to kids who have advantages, right? Who have the resources who can get free tutoring at home. But you have kids who got to think about the next meal, right? In our program, we see a lot of kids who want to come be a part of our programs, but it's so many different barriers you have. You have food barrier, you have transportation barrier, you have kids who are 15 years old gotta go work a 40 hour per week job because they gotta help mom with bills at home. But that is a lot of things a lot of people don't understand because they just think, oh, a kid just have it a kid don't have to go that but a lot of kids. By the time they reach to the age of 14, 15 years old, they have experienced almost a half a life experience of a 40 year old person. And so we just have to sit down and really internalize and understand what is it black men and boys are going through. And from there we can create solutions to how we can help the organization to all the ground to impact these young black men and boys. Sorry, that was a mouthful.

Monisha: No, I think you said it all, Anthony. I'm like, I don't even need to come behind that because in my mind, it is an infrastructure and capacity thing. The guys want to do it. They want to touch all the youth that they can, but it's like, how do we do it? How do we have enough time to do it? So it's definitely, we need to all come to the table and see how we can collaboratively work together to get this to every youth or every young black man in the community, for sure. 

Erin White: I'm going to say something. Is it okay if I jump in? Okay. I'm Erin with Black Wellness. I have two brothers. I'm the oldest of four, single mother home, raised by the oldest two, me and my closer brother, raised by my grandmother. The younger two are a whole different generation, eight years and 12 years younger than I am. So they are the ones who I guess in our household would be considered the at risk, but none of us were seen as. I'm going to beat the odds because we're the only family within the immediate family that come from the single parent home. So we were the statistics. So between my brother and myself, my closest brother, we have five degrees between us. We have all of these things going on. And the younger two, they have high school diplomas. And that was a stretch to get them to do that.  My point is. They had the same resources that we had, but their focus wasn't the same as ours was. My youngest brother, who's 12 years younger than me, was into building guns and ghost guns, selling drugs The house had been shot at  several times because of his activity, but it was, but we, he grew up in Wimbledon. Like I grew up in Mayfair where I would go walk to the bus stop and there would be syringes in the ground. He grew up in Wimbledon in South Baton Rouge where that's not a thing. So it's not always about  access to resources because he had all the resources. He just wasn't interested in them. He wanted to be like the homie up the street. Who was hard and had street cred and whatever. And when I have tried to, my brother, my oldest brother and I have tried to create spaces, so I would create spaces for women to get together and discuss things like that. And I wanted to do the same for men, but I can't do that because I don't want them to think that. I'm listening in like I would, I have tried to find a male to lead these spaces, my brother was going to do it,  but he's, often Maryland working he was in the Navy and all these things so he carries so much trauma from being in the military and from our childhood. That it's, he is ideal. He has his men's groups that he's in, and we need groups like that here. But, who am I gonna find to do that? And how am I gonna, how do I do that without my face being a part of it? How do I push it, and push that agenda as male centered? Because, I don't know how true it is, but from my perspective, things don't happen unless Black women get behind it. A lot of the time, Black women got to get behind it to make it happen. And a lot of the times, they don't want to hear it from us, but that's the truth. And if I, like I'm saying, I'm trying to push my brother to do this, and he's I can't do it now. I moved to Maryland. And I said, okay can you be here quarterly so we can do this? And he's, he doesn't have the capacity. He doesn't. But I know he would be the perfect person to do it because I would leave the room. I would set it up. I would leave the room. They can do whatever they need to do. I would find a male to do the yoga, a male to do the catering, and y'all have your talk. Do what y'all need to do because that's what they need. My brother, who's 12 years younger than me, who was into the guns and drugs was labeled ODD, oppositional  whatever disorder, because you don't want to, okay, because you just. He was not challenged in school, quick wit, so smart. But because he had something to say for everything that, defiant, yes, thank you. He had something to say for everything that the teacher said, he was going tit for tat with them. Oh, you have a condition, you're labeled. So that has to stop. We can't label everything that this one person can't handle as a problem child. And now they go to TOR and whatever else. That's just my two cents. 

Monisha: So Erin I would love to connect with you offline because everything that you're saying is what we need. Because I go to the healing circles, and I go and I set up and I leave the room just so they can have their safe space amongst the men. So I think we can definitely connect and see how we can further. Engage on that initiative that you have. But I agree with you. Just going into the safe, hopeful, healthy classroom yesterday. I went to Glen Oaks and they were having, some of the youth are having some issues, right? And just seeing how they were engaging with the staff. It's not hard. Sometimes it's just like redirecting them and reassuring them that it's okay. And this is a safe space and will allow you to have your little moment. And then we're going to move past it because it's okay. We all have moments. At the end of the day, and that's what I love, let me go talk to the youth because that's what I enjoy. That's why I enjoy being in the space with them. But I think I agree with you a hundred percent on everything that you said. And I think we need to see how we can work together to make this happen in our community for sure. And to go back to the school thing, I also agree with the fact that a lot of those youth school is the only consistent thing in their life. So to take them out of school hurts them more than it helps them. So we definitely need to look at that as well. 

Pepper: Agreed. I'm so glad that we are making connections. I feel very fiddler on the roof matchmaker, make me a match. But also understanding completely that yeah, the  having a black woman tell a black boy what, that he needs help is very much like another voice. I don't want to hear telling me something that I may know is true, but I'm not going to take this from somebody who is not walking in my shoes that full mile. Which is why I respect and I appreciate very much men and men who are showing up in a lot of ways, but it also Erin, it does. It does reiterate something that you were saying about your youngest siblings that is in the chat that resources are not necessarily all that's needed, right? That  people of all socioeconomic stratas want to fit in. They want to belong. They want to be a part of something. And speaking of the chat, please, we don't have a whole lot of time left. If y'all got any. Questions, please drop them over there. But also looking at the DSM and oppositional defiant disorder. So what I find fascinating is that being challenging, challenging authority and asking questions and being is very clever if you're not a black boy, but if you are one, then it's Oppositional and it's defiant and it's something that my dear friend to co would say would need to be beaten into submission. We don't do beatings, but we might incarcerate you. That's a different conversation. Nevertheless talk to me  about how it is that y'all do. interventions in ways that and that's for any of y'all who've actually spoken this morning. Do y'all, or do you do interventions in order to avoid getting to a place where there is a young man? And in this case, I'm talking about school age, a young man who is exhibiting oppositional defiant disorder because he's curious, because he does, because it doesn't make sense  because he's using logic in order to change the way he's approaching these authority figures, or is a matter of, we'll just talk to you on whatever interval we talk to you and you can share with us whatever it is that you want to share. What's the process? 

Erin: I want to jump in again. I'm sorry. As a teacher, former teacher. Now, I taught middle school science. It was across the river at a private school. So it wasn't, there was, I had maybe three black students. And those, they, one was in eighth grade. No, all three of them were in eighth grade actually. There was a brother and sister and a set of twins. Anyway. It was, this school  was.  So racially convergent that when we had IDs made, everybody else said staff, but because I was on faculty and I was a black woman, mine had to say faculty so that I was not confused with janitorial staff or the cafeteria staff. Okay. When I would have these students and it wasn't, and I never had any trouble with the black students. I never had any trouble with anybody, but these. The people, the students whose parents feel entitled to you're at a private school, and so I'm giving you this, I'm paying tuition, so I'm paying for these grades. And I wasn't about that. Principal would come to me and say, oh, hey, how are those grades looking? I said, it's a good bell curve. Oh, we need this. We need to move that curve over. We need more B's and C's because this is our A's and B's because this is a feeder school for St. Joe and Catholic. And okay, great. No, not going to do that. But children that were labeled there was a girl in eighth grade who was on the ADHD medication and the entire school, it was a K through eight.

So the entire school had written off her little brother who was in sixth grade, who they all determined on their own needed to be on ADHD medication because she was on it, but the father did not want to put him on it. This child who nobody could get through to instead of going to after school care would stay in my classroom. And work math problems across the board and I took videos of this because I wanted his parents to see it to see that he's reachable that he can do this. So it's, but I got in trouble when I spoke to a student. In private, who was actually showing the signs of not being able to handle she was stressed beyond belief. They used to, they would go to their classes, they would circle and we had to say tuck in your shirt, tail, tie your shoes, things like that. And she would always speak to me. I saw her this day and she looked at me and she wanted to cry. I brought her into the classroom. I said, I'm gonna get the guidance counselor to talk to you. Is there anything you wanna tell me? Is there anything that's going on? I was fussed at because I sent a message, a text message to the guidance counselor, and I said  exactly what the student said to me. She was saying something about her mood, she couldn't control it, whatever. So I said that to the guidance counselor. I was told,  do not ever diagnose a student, how dare you? But the whole school has diagnosed this sixth grade boy as having a ADHD. With no medical anything behind it, except that his sister is on ADHD meds. There are a lot of double standards. Like you were saying, Pepper, like, when you're clever and you're white, it's all good. But, when you're black, you have a smart mouth, and you need to be toned down, and you need to be shut up, and you need to be in the back of the corner. Sorry, really passionate about this just something that, it just really gets my goat, I'm sorry. 

Anthony: And Erin, while you were speaking, that's something I just thought about. Oftentimes, I think a lot of people say this current generation call it the Y generation could ask why so much why I got to do this and why this have to be this and why it is have to be that. But I think we also have to change the narrative that instead of them thinking us think of adults thinking as disrespectful, maybe they're just critical thinking skills is just on a higher level than average. And I think Oftentimes we negate the fact we trying to minimize them having critical thinking skills. Could they ask why and they challenged the norm. I think covid while I was on lockdown, get everybody opportunity to sit at home and challenge a lot of things you may not have time to think about and challenge. And so I think as a as Leaders and adults and kind of the to the younger generation, right? Because I never thought I'm gonna be the one to be like, I'm an adult. People call me big bro and stuff now because I used to be the one to challenge my parents about it. But being on the other side of it, the students need to understand. But it's our goal to make sure they craft it the right way. So them challenging the norm, them saying why so many times, why I got to do this mom, why I got to do that, why is it like this, because the older, now it's the older generation, the more seasoned.

Erin:  But that's something that's been passed down. Because I say so. 

Anthony: Just go with the flow generation, right? Your mom, your granddad, papa, momo.  say this, said that, and that's the land of the law, you never changed it, right? But with today's generation of social media, be able to get on Google, get on Twitter, x Instagram and actually research these things, see these things in real time, it's not too many barriers for you to get the access to this information. So now you get to sit down and see maybe that's why mama's happened like that, or why it is like this, or why is, why do my neighborhood look like this? When I go on the other side of town, it looks even better, right? I think we have to make sure we start crafting our kids, right? And I know a lot of people say, this medical issue, Edd, all that stuff like that. But at the root of it, we just have to help our kids navigate those emotions and navigate those thinking patterns. So they're a bit to understand, become more. Thought pattern in the visual rather than this reactionary, right? Because a lot of kids see an issue and it quick, right? Because a lot of kids want that microwave response and then microwave answer rather than saying, wait, hold up. Let me internalize what I just thought about or what I just saw or what I just heard. And then let me get my response and go from there with it.  

Pepper: Dr. Rutledge?

Dr. Sharmayne Rutledge: I'm very quiet on these calls, or perhaps even absent from the conversation, but this is very passionate and it sits in my home. My son, who is now 20, was diagnosed at 4 with ODD ADHD. ADD combined type later gifted and talented. And he's exceptionally smart. And I wanted to explain how we navigated this space with such a young child. And I think Anthony, you hit it on the head. So I'm like yes. And yes. So explaining to him that he is not different. providing him with the support that he needed to and that we needed. So we are second time parents. The first kid was perfect. And if Dylan came first, that would have been our BC child. It would have been one and done, but we are grateful that we have both of them. But explaining to him that emotions are natural and pure and true and that he should be able to tap into those things. So using therapy giving him the space that he needed to grow and then being that advocate, understanding that the educational system. did not set him up for success, but that his parents did. So standing in the gap, knowing what our rights and responsibilities were reading those handbooks as they came out, but also digging deep into the law, providing him and ourselves with therapy to understand what those parameters were and then setting those expectations, not only for him, but him. The teachers, the principals, the guidance counselors and everyone else who came in contact with him provided him with the support that he needed to move on through high school, graduated from Lee and 19 and then three years. He went to LSU for a year and then transitioned to Tulane and being at Tulane for Not Tulane. I'm getting the kids mixed up. I'm sorry, but he's at Savior. So he will finish college within three years, but it is possible And now he knows that when those tendencies are arising when he automatically wants to say no to sit back and use the skills that he was taught to then figure things out, but he's graduating in May with a 3.8 GPA.  And after three years of going to two different universities, unheard of. But there is hope for our kids. We need to provide them with the resources that they need, but also the space that they need. And we also need to provide our schools and our school system with the education they need to support our kids.

Pepper: Here, here. Yeah, there's also my, so two things. One, I just said that yesterday. If the second one came first, there would only be one. Everybody knows that. But the things that are going on in the chat. Yeah, we do need to have more challenge to not only the curriculum, but also to increase critical thinking for children as they are younger. Cause it's not, it really was, there was a reason for folks to go to school the way that they did back at the beginning of the beginning to the middle of the 20th century. There was a reason for things to be learned, to be taught and to learn them in those ways. Those reasons no longer exists in the same way. And we need to evolve. Schools have not evolved in a way that. That really does support what is needed in that Dr. Hall, what'd you say, baby? 

Nichola: Hi, everyone. Good morning. So I just wanted to chime in on this conversation as a relatively young mom of twin boys. My boys are 16 years old. They were, their father was killed about four years ago. I've always took care of them since they were 18 months old by myself. And when one of my boys was in kindergarten in the public school system, I remember the teacher, Miss Frost, never forgot her name, a white woman who told me that I need to go test my child because my child may be experiencing some type of or special needs, et cetera. Took me 30 days to curve the behavior. It was just not listening and just not being attentive in class. What I'm getting at is we just have to be consistent. I don't have all the answers. And I did this on my own with two boys with no male or males in the home. And my kids don't live with me. I'm in Baton Rouge. My boys are in Georgia. They haven't been with me for the last 10 years. They've been in Georgia with my parents. I am blessed. I guess it's a lot of prayers and maybe because of all the, work that I've been doing the community in terms of giving back to the community. Maybe that's also a layer of blessing, but my consistency with my kids, my check in with them, holding them accountable, showing up when they need them, when they need me to show up setting boundaries, foundation, structure, support, expectations. Those are the things that help me and I don't have all the answers. So I did not get my kid checked out. Brilliant, both of them absolutely smart, can't ask for better kids, outstanding human beings. And for me the only requirement that I asked them to do to become are outstanding human beings. I would love to have lawyers and doctors, but if I could keep them out of jail, keep them off the street, keep them fed and have them give back to the community, that is a big start for me. So I press on to say. Y'all, we got a lot of work to do, but collectively we could do it if we just lock arms together and share our best practices that we use. And those are my best practices for my kids and I still have another maybe 15 years to go because I heard they don't really start to mature until they're 30 years old, which is true. So I have another 15 to go. So anyway, I digress. I just wanted to share share that out and thank you always One Rouge. for Friday healthy discussion and reset because boy, I need it. But thanks. Bye.  

Pepper: Tell me about it. Thank you all so much. We are coming towards the  Oh, okay. So we do have a question in the chat. Dr. Dean Andrews, I'm just going to open this one up to anybody. How do you go from a segregated school system to a desegregated school system without major problems? It reminds me, anyways, what's the expectation of the majority community with respect to minority student academic abilities? I don't think people are naive about the results of babies in this culture. And so in this using the word majority something that  Shreeta pushed back on last week because they're white people are not the majority. They are not, they are the global minority, the global majority or brown people, shades of brown baby. But when I was growing up, I was told that it was called the majority because they had the most money. That's a different conversation. Anyway thoughts on that. And then we will get to what it is. Then we'll start wrapping up because I only asked for an hour of your time.  What's the expectation in spaces in in white spaces with respect to black and brown children  and their economic capacities, capabilities. Do y'all know? I will take your silences and no. All right, Dean Andrews. It looks like we're gonna have to do a little bit of digging in order to find the answer to that question. But between now and then thank you all so much for being here. You know how much I love you spending part of your Friday mornings with me. Casey, do you have any last words? 

Casey: I don't have words. I have more questions for like part two of this conversation. I just wanted to listen and I just want to listen today. I want to thank the our speakers, not only the scripted ones with Mr. Kenny and Monisha today but also everybody else that shared Erin.

Thank you for sharing so much, Nichola. I appreciate all of you. And I had to step out for a second and take a call and I feel like I've missed words from Sharmayne. I feel like I missed words from Sharmayne and I don't like that. But Sharmayne, thank you for contributing this well. And I look forward to, I look forward to the part two of this conversation and structuring it to go a little bit deeper. And I think Dean Andrews's question actually is a really good place to start when it comes to education.  

Pepper: Very good. So as we are out changing the world, it'll all start with you and it starts tomorrow. What's going on in Baton Rouge this weekend, y'all?  

Casey: 225 Fest Sunday, show up, go, just park and go to go see Rodneyna and just go to the museum. And you can't go wrong. Just come to the energy of that area. If you did not go to the 225 Fest last year. That Myra and all the amazing humans that produced that event that was just the first year. I can't wait to see what she's going to do on Sunday. So roll out and come to a truly unique gathering of humans in Baton Rouge. It's it's a really good time. It'll fill your soul.  

Pepper: Manny has dropped in the chat link for those who might be interested in having help with data science and urban issues. NYU is looking for Capstone Client Intake. It is open, so apply. Nicola has also dropped into the chat. EBR, PSS, Summer Meals! Participation application is coming up. Nichola. You just and yes, Manny, you can share the CLT talk. Nichola, can you share real quick what does the summer meeting, what are you asking for?  

Nichola: Summer meals. Okay. All right. Organization. If you have any know of any organization that have kids or will have kids enrolled in their enrichment program, 100 black men, I see your face on there, I'm gonna roll up on you wherever I see you make sure an application is submitted for our kids to consume summer meals. 18 years or below, regardless of where you're at, we're going to be housing projects libraries wherever they are. Kids set up. We will be there. We just need an adult in charge to fill out the application. Let's collaborate and feed more kids. And that's my speech. Thanks. Thanks Pepper. 

Pepper: Manny has dropped in the chat. Manny, are you in a place that you can come off mute and share all of these  words? 

Manny: Yeah, I am. Thank you. It's been a couple of weeks since I've been able to join. Wonderful conversation today. Thank you all. And I'm really sorry I wasn't able to join last week's housing conversation. So this is a holdover from that, but I'll be part of a three person talk from Georgetown University about shared equity models and Looking at adequate supply of affordable adequate, beyond adequate housing. It's a free webinar for those of you who are lawyers or planners. There are CLE credits as well. Please join if you have any questions about this, let me know. And it is dealing with some of the work that I'm helping get off the ground with folks from Bill Baton Rouge Wilson Foundation and others. And looking forward to seeing more of you. At this time at the webinar. 

Pepper: Awesome! Before I forget, Nichola, you talked about, I want doctors and lawyers child those education, higher education bills. Plumbers and electricians, that's what you want. But, Tristi, are you in a place to share about the Junior League's Women's Leadership Conference? 

Tristi: Hi, everyone. I really enjoyed the conversation today. Thank you all so much for sharing so much especially those of you who shared your personal experiences. The Junior League of Baton Rouge's Women's Leadership Conference is Tuesday, March 5th. It is open to anyone in our community, woman, man. Identify otherwise and we have Tunde Oyunian. I think I said her name right. I'm not sure. She is a Peloton instructor. People who are Pelotons know her. I don't know her. She is a Nike athlete. She is a changemaker author of the book Speak, Find Your Voice, Trust Your Gut. And then we also have many breakout sessions, or there's somebody who can tell you how to organize your house how to organize your life scheduling things. We have a makeup artist coming to talk about how to. To present your best self with makeup. There are three different time slots for the breakout session. So I think there's 12 different breakouts. There's our premier sponsor B1 Bank has a presentation on small businesses and how to be bankable. Ochsner Health will have a panel of cancer surgeons available as well, talking about taking care of your health. And yeah, it's going to be a great day. I dropped a link for tickets and all proceeds go to the community investment projects of the junior league of Baton Rouge and improving or the leadership development that our members receive to go back out into our community and make change. 

Pepper: That sounds like a perfect day for headshots too. They have done headshots in the past. I don't know if they're doing headshots this year. If we're talking you come in with, to be bankable and you learning how to do your makeup. Why not? Why not?  Marcella, what you got going on with Lori? 

Marcela: Hi, good morning, everyone. Two things. One, I just want to remind you about the  non entry symposium with Reverend Anderson. It is today, right now, we're actually here at the library, so we hope that you guys can come. We're at the River Center Library, and the symposium is going to be from 9:30 to 5 p.m. And then additionally, I wanted to remind you about our resource and expungement fair that we're doing in partnership with the YWCA.

It's going to happen next Thursday, the 29th from 10 to 12 at the main library. So please, if you have anyone who needs to get some business resolved that day, or who needs additional community resources, please send them our way. Thank you so much. You have a great day. 

Casey: Marcella is the event on the fourth floor in the big conference room. 

Marcela: That's correct. It's just that we got breakfast, so you better be coming. That breakfast and good things. Great people coming today. You cannot miss it. 

Casey: I appreciate the people and the topic is enough to get us there, but I appreciate you throwing in that breakfast too. Thank you. See you. 

Tekoah: Good morning again, everyone in my our meet and greet black history month program. Tonight at 6 o'clock. Yes, I'll put it in chat too. Tonight, six o'clock on Acadian. 

Pepper: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. All right, y'all. Thank you so much for staying over just a little bit. Super important topics. Yes, we will do a trivia night. Sorry, I'm easily distracted.  

Casey: Like squirrel. Hey, real quick, I want to make sure and see, Anthony, do y'all have anything that is there anything with the 100 that we can support. That's happening right now that needs volunteers. I know financial support is always needed. Drop that into the chat too, my friend. 

Anthony: We just out the heels of our annual gala. So we just got a head above water from that. But really upcoming for us. I can send them some opportunities. We have a lot of things going on the weekend. So I can. I didn't have to schedule today to drop, but I can send that to you, Pepper. 

Casey: If you want to send to the collective, that would be helpful. That would be awesome. And just consider it, like I don't, I know mailing lists are tricky and it's probably not your area of adding everybody, but it would be really cool to get an, like a pipeline, like almost a feed of what the 100 is doing that we can include in the meeting notes. And that way people can just approach you all to to connect whenever it's good for them, if that works for you. Cool. Thank you for your time today. Monisha, is there anything with SHH that's coming up that y'all need support on?  

Monisha: Not at this moment. I'll definitely send out that flyer for Healing Circles if anybody's interested in connecting with that. We definitely want to get that out as well. So I'll send that to Pepper following the meeting.  

Casey: Okay, awesome. Thank you for sharing the space today. Appreciate you. 

Pepper: Oh, and definitely check out the chat, but Rodneyna dropping all sorts of really interesting things in there. And thank you all so much for being here. I really appreciate you spending part of your Friday morning. The topic that is beginning of at least a part two that will explore Dean Andrews question around the expectation of blackness and white spaces. And that may not be what he meant, but that's how I'm going to frame it. Anyway we will see y'all back here next Friday. Same bat time, same bat channel.



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