Saturday, January 24, 2009

Are We in a Truly Post - Racial World?

Because of what happened with Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Jena 6, and Robbie Tolan in Houston, TX; I can't say that we have realized MLK's dream. Have we've seen progress? Yes, and no one is disputing that. My question is will African- Americans ever walk in stride witheveryone else, or are we destined to always take two steps forward and one step back.

Barack Obama's election as president is a great thing for America. However,as a black man living in America, I pray that we as a community don't allow the significance of what has happened to be in vain. We can cry and rejoice, but in the end we as a community must finally do. Do better, be better, and have pride as a people. We must graduate from colleges at higher rates than other communities. And this is what the B.M.I. is committed to doing here at GWU.

Barack Obama's election as president should not just bring tears to your eyes, it should inspire you to try to make a difference.First in yourself and then in the various communities that make up this melting pot, we call America.

- Sean Williams

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Future of BMI

Years from now, The Black Men’s Initiative (B.M.I) will continue to support the academic, social, intellectual and spiritual growth of black male undergraduate and graduate students at The George Washington University (GW) by maintaining a community of men who will continuously support and encourage one another towards the end of personal growth and academic achievement. The B.M.I will continue to rally behind and support each other in every one of our endeavors. It is not our place to judge one another, but it is our place to inform our brothers how we feel if we truly believe it is important.

We will continually clarify that becoming part of this program does not mandate the necessity to give up the personal identity that one might strive to obtain. Instead, B.M.I offers a support system that safely guides black men through the college process; in hope that as they find their identities, they can also succeed and take advantage of their time at GW. The greatest crime we can commit as black men is not educating those who come after us about our previous experiences. Therefore, by informing these men, they can improve where we failed. We will continue to extend our hands to black men to become involved with this program that promotes solidarity in a manner that guarantees mutual success.

- Andre Smith, Leadership Board

BMI - Who We Are

In a world full of acronyms, the letters B-M-I to the untrained eye appear to be just that, three letters. Few students of color here on our own campus at GW can adequately explain the objective of, or necessity for, the Black Men’s Initiative as it relates to the community at large. I could easily sit here and parrot our mission statement back to you: “To support the academic, social, intellectual and spiritual growth of Black male undergraduate and graduate students at The George Washington University by maintaining a community of men who will continuously support and encourage one another towards the end of personal growth and academic achievement.” However, if your jaw is still hanging and you still have that glazed over look in your eyes, you should. This look should remain after I present you with our Five-Fold focus, or the five main statutes to which we as a group adhere to:

Connect- Enhance and promote opportunities for brothers to meet, network, and fellowship.

Support and Advocate for Black Men- Enhance the growth and development of the “complete” man through organized peer-to-peer and administrator-to-student mentoring.

Display Accountability/Self-discipline- Establish a standard of excellence.

Educate the Black Community- Support and promote intellectual, interpersonal, political, and community growth.

Encourage Black Male Involvement- The ultimate goal of the Black Men’s Initiative is that the well-connected, supported, disciplined, educated men it produces will become proactive leaders in the communities around them.

Being the practical person that I am, I am going to re-convey these ideas to you in layman’s terms. The first matter that needs to be clarified is that WE ARE NOT A STUDENT ORGANIZATION!!! We are a program of the Multicultural Student Services Center. This means that in addition to not receiving funding from the Student Association, we should not be looked to to put on monthly events, command huge turnouts at given events, or even have a huge membership; it is our laser-like focus and the very precepts upon which our organization was founded that prohibits this.

That being said I will tell you what we are. Our main goal is that every black male who matriculates at the George Washington University has full access to and takes full advantage of the tools he needs to graduate in four years (or however many years the specific degree he is seeking dictates). The reason our program is so exclusive in its aim is the fact that we are facing an issue specific to the black male populous not only at the George Washington University, but in colleges and universities around the nation. A problem has gone undiagnosed for too long when a black male is three times as likely (for all you math heads that’s 300% more likely) to end up in a prison cell than in a college dorm room. As if that isn’t bad enough, of the fortunate few who break this trend slightly less than half are expected to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in four years, and fewer still will graduate at all.

As you can see, this program was birthed out of necessity; this problem isn’t a perceived one but rather an epidemic in our community that affirmative action couldn’t fix, and simply ignoring it won’t make it go away. That’s where we come in. Our goal as the Black Men’s Initiative at the George Washington University is to make sure you get your money’s worth. Although we are not a student org our leadership board is made up of black male students, and not simply faculty, because we not only know what you are going through, we are simultaneously going through it as well, so our combined expertise helps us best serve you.

As much as we like you guys, we don’t want to see you guys here for years and to come working on the same degree, and that is why the Black Men’s Initiative exists. Those three letters encapsulate you, me and the struggle that holds us together. Making it to college is only half of the equation; making it out is the true accomplishment. That is the BMI.

- Ryan Mitchell, BMI Leadership Board