Challenging Stereotypes: Brotherhood, Inc.
On Friday night, May 4, 2012, a play canvasing the lives and struggles of African American youth in the inner cities is performed at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis MN. It's called, THE FORGOTTEN: A LOOK AT THE LIVES OF YOUNG BLACK MEN. What is captured is the fact that nationally, the unemployment rate of black men between the ages of 16-24 is currently 34.5 percent, more than three times the rate for the general U.S. population. In Minnesota, the gap in unemployment between African Americans and whites is the worst in the nation. A view of the lives of young black men striving to overcome adversity and rise above the infrastructures built to keep them down is presented. Through their voices, they will leave their mark on the world. Standing for what they believe in, telling their stories and refusing to be forgotten, they challenge the stereotypes rampant in white America. The play is sponsored by Brotherhood Inc. in conjunction with the Community Justice Project of the University of St. Thomas School of Law.
Brotherhood, Inc. was developed as a grass roots, community-based response to help break the devastating cycles of poverty, unemployment, and incarceration facing young African American males in the twin cities. In response to the social issues facing young African American men, Brotherhood, Inc. seeks to address these issues head on through an array of comprehensive, culturally-sensitive social services, case management, and in-house job opportunities. Brotherhood, Inc.’s goal is to ensure that young African American males are being successfully reintegrated back into the community, are given access to gainful employment and the tools to become leaders in the community.
In addition, they have opened Brotherhood Brew, a coffee service that both caters and sells coffee. Brotherhood Brew is an innovative social enterprise that provides comprehensive coffee services to businesses, nonprofits, government offices, educational institutions and individuals in the Twin Cities and beyond. Brotherhood Brew offers a variety of fresh, fair trade, organic coffee at competitive prices. The proceeds from the sale of Brotherhood Brew allow Brotherhood, Inc. to provide our participants with in-house employment opportunities and essential job skills such as: customer service, marketing, leadership, entrepreneurship, and team building experience .
The young men involved report, ""I like Brotherhood because it reaches out and teaches people" (T., 16) and "Teenagers need a place to relate to other teenagers. We need to be able to express how we feel without feeling like we will be judged" (D., 17).
Brotherhood, Inc. has been successful, not only in changing the lives of young black men, but in changing the perception of these same men in the larger community.