Their names are Tevin and Dantrell, and we met them through their Grandmamas. One is in his 20s and getting ready to start his second year in college; the other is in his late teens and still in high school. One is a gentle giant with a quiet demeanor and whisper of a voice; the other is tall and lean and ready to get physical with footballs and basketballs. Both of them have hearts bigger than the universe and are willing to give their time and their talents to their church, their schools and to our boys’ summer camp.
For five days this June they came to the Peace Center every morning ready to go, and they helped our boys create a memory of a good week of play, creativity and enrichment. Peace Camp used every opportunity to instill the possibilities of making the world a little bit more peaceful, even if it would only last between 8:30 and 3:00 during camp. Tevin and Dantrell committed themselves to that idea 110%. Tevin did his work quietly, working with boys one on one, talking with them and encouraging them to act differently than they usually would. When Dantrell experienced the boys’ attitudes going to the dark side with name calling, “smack” talk, and even bullying, he did not hesitate to call them out and name the issues.
By the end of the five day camp, the campers had had an opportunity to spend quality time with some good role models. Young Black men, specifically in the New Orleans area but all over our country, face many obstacles created by a broken and dysfunctional system on all levels of educational, employment and positive social opportunities. Statistics and numbers are against them. Their chances of true success rest on those they will use as their models, who will mentor them and allow them to use their incredible talents for good. All the rest of us can do is pray; pray that they won’t lose their hold on the fragile hope they have been given, that they won’t miss out on any opportunities that will come their way, that they will stand firm and be faithful to all that God has called them to be; and that the system designed for their failure can truly be fixed in ways that will benefit all of them more positively.
Check out the systems in your town. Do you see equity? Do you see advantages for one group over another based on policies beyond their control? Praying for change is a start. Praying that we will elect good leaders is a great step! Praying for Tevin and Dantrell—-there’s an action!