The narrative of inferiority and dangerousness that justified the dehumanization of boys and young men of color in our country’s past continues to frame their legacy, potential, and health in present-day America. This narrative portrays them not as someone’s child, brother, uncle or dad, but as threats to life and safety--as someone to be feared. This reality is traumatizing for boys and young men of color, not only in how they see themselves and their peers, but also in how they are treated by people they face every day. The emotional, physical, and relational consequences of this trauma can be seen on the streets, in businesses, in schools, on job sites and in the criminal justice system, among other places. As we have become painfully aware, without challenging that narrative, we will be less able to alter its lethal consequences.
Forward Promise seeks to create spaces, resources and professional support to practitioners, to help boys and young men of color heal from the historical and present-day trauma; to help them grow and advocate for themselves in ways that reduce the effects of inferiority narratives; to facilitate their opportunities to thrive and more fully contribute and lead in their communities and the world. We must keep the promises we make to all of our children, brothers, and fathers of color--that we will affirm their humanity, protect them from the traumas, empower their voices, and hold accountable the systems that rely consciously or unconsciously on this narrative of dehumanization. The health of our children, our communities and our country is at stake.