Hello San Antonio! This column is dedicated to bringing the truth about the state of the community in regards to it’s health and well being for the lives of our most disadvantaged and disenfranchised, Black and Brown Men of San Antonio. I’d have you prepare for a few rounds of triple exclamations, some hell no’s and I can’t wait to equip
you the readers with the hard questions to charge our communities with, to effect change that we can see and feel, for the future of our communities; Black and Brown Men of San Antonio. In that vein (the truth) we’ll start with my own. I’m a founding committee member of the local My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. Of course as a young Black man who’s faced an arduous past like many other young men, seeing Barack Obama win the Presidency was all inspiring! I watched that guy like my favorite actor, or basketball player or civil rights leader! 75% of the reason was because he’s Black and the other 25% was because he’s so damn cool. In September 2014, I watched President Obama Launch the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge.
The Challenge calls upon mayors, tribal leaders, town and county executives, encouraging them to take the following steps: within 45 days of accepting the Challenge, local communities convene a Local Action Summit with key public and private sector stakeholders to assess needs, determine priorities, and decide what combination of the above objectives they will tackle; within six months of accepting the Challenge, communities publicly launch a plan of action for accomplishing their goals, which will include a protocol for tracking data, benchmarks for tracking progress, and a blueprint for how the community will resource its efforts.
A FEW MENTORS ALONG THE WAY
Listen, San Antonio I was all over this. That day I pledged myself to the work and hit the ground running. Initially I rang every phone and knocked every door but the right one. In that ringing of phones I shared intimate conversations about my vision and life goals with some awesome people. One of my first contacts was Jim Wyatt at the time Chairman of the Texas Association of African American Chambers Of Commerce, how cool is THAT! I spoke with him about my Solar Dreams and my call to San Antonio that jet set me into the work of My Brother’s Keeper. He then directed me to Christopher Herring at the time the sitting President of the Alamo City Black Chamber of Commerce, how cool is THAT! I spoke with him about my passion for guys like me, we know we can but no one wants to show us how to get into internships, mentorship programs, leadership positions. Mr. Herring then directed me to Ms Renee Watson the then and now Director of the Small Business, Women’s and Minority Business Development for Bexar County. Ms. Watson printed for me the business, the overviews, the bench marks and the national guidelines that our city was following. She wanted me to see how I fit into the master plans of the city of San Antonio! She saw my passion, loved my energy and pointed me in the right direction, The Mayor’s office. At the time our Mayor was Ivy R. Taylor - our nation's first African American woman with a city over one million population. She was thrust into the position because of the advocacy of Black and Brown people who believed in her like we believed in President Obama. I knocked on that door, and knocked, and knocked again! I was well read and ready by the time Mr. Cary Clack hearkened to my persistence and he said “as of now it’s just a file on my desk, give me two weeks”.
Two weeks later and BOOM here I am five years later with a strong core of mentorship, a connection to the community a belief in this initiative that won’t go away. Even if I told it to go away, this is my heartbeat. There are so many more me’s in our community. There are a slew of talented young Black men across this city who don’t take chances because they don’t know that opportunities exist. There are so many young Black and Brown guys who made mistakes and are checking out because they don’t believe they have a second chance because they were never afforded one. It is my goal to inspire you, the reader to lift the veil and begin to bridge the wide gap for so many down trodden young people. I know from my example, when they flourish, our communities, families and institutions follow.
I am Damon Lake and I know we can raise up a generation of young men of color that will lift up our city, county, state and our nation.
If you are a fortune company, church, small business, institution or community leader, ministry, league, hospital etc, that are inspired to continue to build our community to national ranks by way of our young Black and Brown Men, please contact the SA Observer. We believe Black, Native Americans, Latino, and Asian Men matter.
That’s all for my truth, there is so much more to this major story and I hope to have you contribute to the future of this call to be My Brother’s Keeper here in the beautiful San Antonio.