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My Passion for the Young Black Male

Over the past few years I have worked silently with various groups of teen boys.  As a matter of interest – all black! ALL of them have some kind of label associated with a wrong path – and truth be told, many have pending court appearances 🙁 I have enjoyed every interaction and I have never had a bad experience with any of them. In fact if they see me on the street they do something that most teens boys just don’t do. They holler out my name to make sure I see them and if we are passing by each other they give me a hug….and I hug them back.  These are young men who I don’t know much about – other than their name – and if I can’t call the name I definitely know the face.
Recently I have been working with a specific bunch of teens labeled “at risk” – I hate that phrase. We are all at risk for a whole slew of things. Some of these young men have had the most phenomenal experience coming to the prison and having heart to heart discussions with our incarcerated men. CHANGE is noted in these youngsters!!
WHY HAVE I BEEN DOING THIS?? Because for the 17 years that I have been running the Etiquette Class for Girls, I have become increasingly concerned about the direction many of our young men are taking and while I do believe that there are some phenomenal men in our community who CAN make a huge difference – and many that I know personally – I don’t believe there are enough. And there are far too many men and absent fathers who are doing little to nothing. Additionally I have teamed up with other phenomenal women overseas who are running dynamic programs for young men and also making a great impact.
Today confirmed that I am making the right decision. As I was walking through town a bus full of students went by. I heard a male’s voice holler through the bus window: “MS SOMNERRRRRR!” I looked and I recognized the face. It was the young man who recently said to me, “I can’t believe I sat there and listened to you talk for an hour! I haven’t sat this still to listen to anybody that long ever – even to my teachers!” (His teachers confirmed this is true). I stopped and waved as the bus was coming to a stop at the traffic light. He continued shouting through the window: “WHEN ARE YOU COMING BACK BECAUSE I NEED YOU IN 2020. I HAVE GOALS!
OMG I wanted to run through the traffic and hop on that bus and hug him. THIS is a black male, approximately 15 years old, who is identified as “at risk”. I promised him he would see me again soon – and he will. 
Adults who have seen me in action with these groups tell me how awesome they believe. I humbly shrug because for me it’s nothing more than that which I love doing! It’s my calling. I am committed to making sure our young men pursue their dreams.  I am also aware that negativity will come.  How dare a female work with young men – that’s a man’s job! Hmmmm….ok…. But most importantly I am motivated by those who emit positive vibes and encouragement.  Stay tuned. I have to go beyond speaking to groups and sitting on panels.  The next step is coming…..

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Absolutely awesome Shawnette, yes follow your calling, because you’re changing lives.
    Reminds me of a poem a friend gave to me many years ago.
    “All it took was to say hello to someone you didn’t even know”

    It’s more stanzas but the old brain can’t recall right now.🙂
    One hello, my friend.

  2. Awesome sis! You are a phenomenal educator and I’m sooo proud of you for the impact that you are having on our young people. Praying that God will give you the strength to continue doing your passion. Bless you sis 🙏🏾✝️💐🤗🥰🎶

  3. Yesssss I am Team Somner!!!! Go for it, as I am working on doing the same thing out here in the states. We can no longer waste time with generations coming up. Too much lost time and if we don’t take a hold of them now our world will be lost. We need to build a new stance of generational leaders and they are within our youth. They have the courage and bravery and we need to grasp that and cultivate them to MORE!

  4. Awesome reading this with a tear in my eye
    Sometimes that’s all that these young people need is to be able to talk to someone or even is listening to them makes a big difference. you are doing great and I applaud you for being able to make a difference in their life
    I look forward to heating more about your next steps

  5. Continue to follow your aspirations and your dreams. It WILL make a difference- one
    person at a time. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 🙏🏿🙏🏿

  6. The proof is in the pudding. How do we know if we are being effective? If those which you are seeking to engage are responding positively. The part about the young man on the bus speaks volumes! On behalf of JesusFollowr University we are looking forward to coming along side you in 2020 & co laboring with you in this wonderful endeavor. God bless

    1. Patrick, I don’t believe our meeting was by accident but rather for an opportunity to meet to collaborate. I am in awe at your story and am proud of you having “risen from the proverbial ashes”. Thanks for your feedback.

  7. I had to wait to.comment , as there were several discussions going on.
    There is a much needed programme that needs to be put in place ASAP .
    I was fortunate that my Son had incredible male Role models, Omar Pennyman, Wayne Caines, several REGIMENT officers, who looked our for him and helped him network. He is now very purpose driven.
    I am grateful. I would love to see a programme start, to help our boys heal.

    1. Likewise, I had to find strong men in the community to work alongside my sons as well. It makes a huge difference.

  8. Wonderful and truly inspiring!! You are fulfilling the “Each One Teach One“ mantra!! Thank You for serving the young black men in community!! We are all a stones throw away from making a bad choice! Your influence will help them make better choices. KUDOS to You!!

  9. Shawnette- This is Wonderful and truly inspiring!! You are fulfilling the “Each One Teach One“ mantra!! Thank You for serving the young black men in community!! We are all a stone’s throw away from making a bad choice! Your influence will help them make better choices. KUDOS to You!!

  10. You have such a gift and the patience needed to reach people. I am glad that you are using it to make positive change in them and in us. You give us all hope that with sincere and purposeful interaction we can correct and redirect the misled and misunderstood.

    Great job!!!

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words of encouragement, Samantha. It takes a truly does! ((hugs)) to you also for your healing!

  11. Hello Janeen. My apologies for the delay. I hired someone to do it and she was the utmost professional with respect to customer service, professionalism, and creativity. I simply told her what I wanted and she did the rest. i was quite pleased with the outcome.

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