To empower African American youth through training in information technologies and social media platforms to fearlessly engage their natural and developing intelligence and creativity to battle discrimination and injustice and to advocate for race-neutral policies and practices that result in opportunities for them to become outstanding contributory citizens across all areas of life and living.
Let’s Keep Going Until We Flip The Script
The brutal death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, witnessed by millions of people across the U.S. and around the world, as well as the killings of other African Americans in jurisdictions across the nation, has sparked a revival of the “Black Lives Matter” movement in unprecedented ways. Whole communities of diverse social, economic, racial, and religious backgrounds have joined together to protest racial injustice and to advocate for diversity, inclusion, and fair treatment, specifically across African American communities and people. While police mistreatment has been at the center of protests across the nation, a new America is envisioned, whereby the vestiges of historically racist and discriminatory policies, practices, and symbols are being dismantled, resulting in highly-charged emotions and reactions, sometimes involving increased, hostile policing. Both opportunity and fear abound, with young people cautious about their futures, literally terrified for their lives.
The work of conciliation requires a tremendous effort, though the youth have little know-how and few skills to navigate the crisis. A high percent has already had some kind of negative contact with the police and with media, parental, and community hysteria over police killings, young people are even more afraid that they, too, face the prospect of being killed.
For inner city youth, the world in which they live is narrowly defined by a three-to-four block radius within their communities, and those communities are often characterized as deserts. There are not only food deserts, but also educational deserts, activity deserts, and most certainly technology deserts. Although many people in inner city communities may be characterized as `disadvantaged,’ in a number of ways, there is an incredible pool of talent there, though most often discrimination and neglect silence them. Their engagement is long overdue. The inclusion of young people from these communities as equal contributors to conversations, ideas, strategies, policies, and programs that affect their lives, and in serving in leadership and advisory roles, remains a relatively new concept, but one that SAFEO is committed to making happen.
Through its “I Can Breathe” initiative, SAFEO seeks to empower inner city youth by flipping the script from “I Can’t Breathe” to a more positive, pro-active response to the issues of community policing and social injustice. The goal is to provide youth who live in “technology desserts” around the Washington metropolitan area and in Brooklyn, N.Y., direct access to and skills in the use of laptops, desktops, tablets, iPhones, cameras, microphones, and other information technology and communications hardware that will facilitate their entry into the expanding world of Internet-based, social media platforms. Under this initiative, inner city youth will learn how to use technologies to fight against discrimination and to advocate for race-neutral policies and practices that result in opportunities for them to become outstanding contributory citizens across all areas of life and living. Their engagement in technologies will enable them acquire greater insights about the communities in which they live, as well as the world at-large, through discovery of a wider range of points of view. The youth will learn how to use information exchange mechanisms, such as computer and mobile apps, social media campaigns, vlogs, blogs, Youtube videos, podcasts, Instagram, twitter, Facebook and Tik Tok post, entrepreneurial portals, and other informational sites, through which they can acquire a greater locus of control over the events that are affecting them. The ultimate goal is for them to acquire and advance in new information technology skills that will result in impactful protest, advocacy, and improved mainstream socialization, ultimately enhancing their future employment prospects through these highly marketable skill-sets.