The Story: Young Black Men
I listen to National Public Radio (NPR)…a lot. They have new show called The Story that is simply amazing. The aim of the story is to put the news in the context of how it affects real people not having their story filtered by the experts.
It was my pleasure to hear them feature John Rich, a Black physician and researcher that specializes in reaching out to young Black men in the inner-city.
In 2006, Rich received a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship for his academic and clinical work. One of his clinical innovations is conducting in-depth personal interviews with young black men to understand the causes and consequences of trauma — as Rich says, “why getting shot might lead you to being shot.
Dr. Rich tells Dick Gordon about what his interviews have taught him about the culture of young black men in the U.S. — their hopes, fears, and what too often separates them from the rest of America and puts them in jeopardy.
I was simply blown away by this interview. One thing I liked John said was that “Often times when it comes to when we reach out to Black men we say things like, ‘You need to do this or that’ when what really works is starting off the conversation with, ‘I bet you had a hard time growing up.’” The clinic that he ran in Boston did not require healthcare and we all know that Black people don’t really do hospitals. So through this service, Black men receive physicals and check-ups but it is through John’s interviews that allows him to give advice that is relevant and helpful to each person’s situation.
And when John doesn’t have all the answers (psychological problems, inability to find work, access to education) he directs them to organizations in the community that can help. This is Black social capital at its finest.
I think many of us who have a heart for young Black men run the risk of not really listening. And more often than not, people want to be heard before advice is shoved down their throat.
You can listen to the show here,
Stay up fam,