Sacramento, CA – We STILL can’t breathe. We STILL can’t think. We STILL can’t move. These are the statements our young men have cried since IYT’s founding in 2013. This does not take into account the thousands of young Black and Brown men throughout the nation who are voiceless. Our young men’s cries of anguish have been further fueled by the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, a continuous reminder of what the world thinks of their worth.
We have spent over a decade watching unarmed Black males die on video. Stephon Clark. Eric Garner. Trayvon Martin. Sandra Bland. Walter Scott. Ahmad Arbery. George Floyd. The list can go on, and on, and on. We sit. We kneel. We wait. We watch to see when the next death will occur, and we hope that it is not one of our young men. The callousness for Black boys and men has been evident for centuries and sadly what appears to be centuries to come.
IYT unequivocally condemns the murder of George Floyd and stands in solidarity with the protests demanding justice. We demand our political leaders address historic inequalities in Black and Brown communities.
Black boys have the lowest high school graduation rate, lowest college attendance rate and are the most likely group of young people to enter the school to prison pipeline. They often live in communities saturated with poverty, gangs, drugs and hopelessness.
The vision of IYT is to create a nation in which men of color are underrepresented in the criminal justice system, overrepresented in higher education, and leaders in the community. The vision we seek to create is difficult, but it should not have to be. It will take more than what we are doing now. It will take a coordinated strategy to not only develop the next generation of Black graduates, but to hold elected leaders accountable and create new policies that address historic racism and oppression.
Our brothers deserve more. Our families deserve more. Our communities deserve more.
We WILL NOT stop until our vision becomes a reality.