WASHTENAW COUNTY MY BROTHER’S KEEPER
Empowering Multiple Generations. Building Community. Shaping Innovative Change.
Washtenaw County My Brother’s Keeper (WMBK) is a county-wide transformation and collective empowerment collaborative.
As President Barack Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper Challenge in February 2014, WMBK took on the MBK Challenge and became a local affiliate in 2015. WMBK is one of over 200 communities nationally, and a dozen within Michigan, to have accepted the MBK Community Challenge.
MBK communities at large seek to establish cradle-to-career pathways of success for young men of color in cities, counties, and tribal communities nationwide. WMBK uses tools such as cross-sector partnerships, holding space for intergenerational connection, community-based planning and advocacy to transform the lives of boys and men of color in the county.
WMBK exists to impact boys and men of color by empowering multiple generations to build community, and using innovative means to change narratives, practices, and policies, resulting in improved outcomes for young men and boys of color in Washtenaw County.
- Controlling our narrative and shifting mindsets
- Intergenerational Work
Washtenaw County will be a place where boys and young men of color thrive–having full access and support to educational and economic opportunities, strong support and care from an intergenerational community of men of color, and are positively acknowledged by the community at large.
WMBK’s most important mission is “holding space for young men of color,” says Tabitha Bentley, previous director of strategy for WMBK. “We’re always approaching these issues with the lens of seeing problems, challenges, and issues,” she says. “This is really a call to view boys and young men of color in terms of aspirations, the contributions they’re making and want to make, and to check our biased views around them.”
MEET JAMALL BUFFORD, PROJECT SPECIALIST
Jamall Bufford has stepped in as the new Project Specialist at WMBK. Bufford’s background as a Hip-Hop artist; recording under the name Buff1, led to his passion of working with young people. He spent 5 years working at the Neutral Zone in downtown Ann Arbor as the Emcee Workshop Facilitator and Music Program Coordinator before his WMBK role.
In efforts to impact boys and men of color by changing narratives, practices, and policies, WMBK has partnered with Black Men Read to engage volunteers to read to Washtenaw County elementary school students, as well as started boys of color groups at county middle schools.
50 Strong Online Connecting Breakfast
WMBK has continued to host their monthly intergenerational men of color 50Strong breakfasts, now via Zoom and Facebook live. All men and boys of color living in Washtenaw County are invited to the monthly 50 Strong Virtual Community Breakfasts. Watch for upcoming topics and view the archives on the WMBK Facebook page.
Formula 734 Media Project
As the world continues to adjust to the impact of COVID-19, WMBK was able to overcome several challenges to complete its media project consisting of a compilation Hip-Hop album, and an accompanying documentary titled Formula 734, which features men of color musicians ages 16 to 52.
Uplifting the Voices of Young People
Jason Reynolds, seventh National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, presents his new series “Write. Right. Rite.” as part of his “GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story” platform. Jason has become an incredible advocate for young people and like the folks at Washtenaw My Brother’s Keeper, he continues to hold space for young men of color and works to empower young people to find value in their narratives.
In each “Write. Right. Rite.” video episode, Reynolds addresses young people directly and provides helpful ways to express creativity through various prompts and activities. Viewers are encouraged to share their projects on social media using the hashtags (#WriteRightRite and #tellyourstorywithjason).
We encourage you and your child(ren) to watch and engage with these prompts, share the projects you create with YDL and earn a Summer Challenge badge.
“Due to the current changes in our way of life, my approach as Ambassador has had to change, too. My role and goal is to get young people to express themselves and see value in their own narratives, and since I can’t, at the moment, physically come to them, I’ve created the ‘Write. Right. Rite.’ video series—short clips that offer fun and engaging prompts to help spark young people’s imaginations, which in turn will spark their expression.”
– Jason Reynolds, 2020/2021 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature
HEAR JASON REYNOLDS AND JACQUELINE WOODSON
To commemorate Juneteenth, the holiday marking the end of slavery, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden chats with current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jason Reynolds and former National Ambassador Jacqueline Woodson about ways to hear and support kids during a period of nationwide protest against injustice.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE VIDEO
When reflecting on how adults view talking about race vs. how kids view the conversation Jason Reynolds says, “We’re running away from things that they are desperately running towards.”
“Be not afraid of discomfort. If you can’t put yourself in a situation where you are uncomfortable, then you will never grow. You will never change. You’ll never learn.” (Jason Reynolds)
Jason talks about the conversations he’s been having with young people when they reach out to him about racism and the revolution.
TEENS ARE SAYING
“I need you to be a lighthouse and not a captain of this boat. I need you to show me the way but I need you to let me man this boat.”
TWEENS ARE SAYING
“Wrestling with the ideas and trying to understand. Something that feels very big but at the same time feels very absurd in its simplicity.”
LITTLE ONES ARE SAYING
“I’m afraid and I need to figure out how to be less afraid.”
“If we understand how the tree works, how the trunk and roots are where the power lies, and how gravity is on our side, we can attack it, each of us with small axes, and change the face of the forest. So let’s learn all there is to know about the tree of racism. The root. The fruit. The sap and trunk. The nests built over time, the changing leaves. That way, your generation can finally, actively chop it down.”
Twice a year we choose a book for parents, kids, and teachers to read together to prompt conversations. We always seek out new authors of color to hear a variety of #ownvoice perspectives. At the end of the season, books are donated to schools and community organizations.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds was our first pick and his new book Look Both Ways is on the list for the fall. Help us pick what to read next!
LEARN MORE ABOUT ANTI-RACISM
In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.
– Angela Davis
Get tips for how to talk with your kids about race and racism.
If you missed previous weeks’ anti-racism webpages, click below to learn more about learn how to use books to talk about race and racism as a family.
SUMMER CHALLENGE SECRET CODE