“You know the camera is not meant just to show misery”- Gordon Parks
I recall a man asking me in 2012, “Why do Black men make excuses about finding jobs?” I was sitting at a pretty diverse restaurant eating before my law school class started. This question came after the waitress asked about my day. I frequented the restaurant very often because it was convenient. The waiter must have made the man that sat next to me feel more comfortable with opening up a dialogue with me because we sat next to each other for about ten minutes; I spoke, he nodded, and we never shared another word until the waiter inquired about my day.
The conversation led to that question because he wanted to know what type of law I planned to practice. The waiter also asked how my classes were, so he now knew I was in law school. I shared, I wanted to focus on helping out with the plight of the educational system; primarily for our Black males. He didn’t listen to anything. As a matter of fact his question(s) was based off of his lack of cultural understanding and was quite inappropriate. I honestly do not remember what I said, but I am certain I eventually tuned him out. It can be…hmmmmm NO it is daunting to listen to those observations or preconceived thoughts about things without being open to actively listening.
I have listened to many people complain about things. I’ve heard so much about the achievement gap amongst our Black males, the prison system, racial inequalities in many capacities. I love watching individuals advocate for change. I support! It warms my heart to see people that are so motivated to genuinely walk in faith, follow their passion, and do what is necessary to make changes.
I have noticed facebook posts; post after post about changing the perception that people have about Black men, but I personally know that many people don’t truly follow thru. I came across an email some months back about a Black Male Archive, which seemed pretty interesting to me. You see, I write an inmate and according to this inmate “…finding more about our history is welcomed knowledge” that many lack. Additionally, the media has a way of failing to accurately showcase the positivity that occurs with certain groups of people.
Once I sought out The Black Male Archives page, I was in awe with the first statement noticed on the site developed by the Founder; Rodney E Freeman, Jr. “The Black Male Archives was started to show the many characteristics, professions, and perspectives of Black Men across the world and to curate our journey and promote a positive narrative!” I contacted him, and I was instantly astonished by his spirit, his desire, and his determination to showcase the Black male in positive light. He welcomes positive information about Black men. He encourages men to share their positive stories; stories about new promotions, businesses, advocating in community, being a dad; etc to change the narrative….that perception that many have about our Black men.
He makes attempts to showcase how Yusef (one of the Exonerated 5 – check out the story-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8wsGxCaGAw) answers Oprah’s questions about what gives him hope: “They took diamonds and threw them in the dirt. And we were still diamond. And when they picked us up, we were still diamonds. We were unbreakable…still strong. For Future generations to change the system that’s what gives me hope.” This website, the stories, the positive light of Black Males will be archived for …everyone to remember the greatness of our Black Males!
As you read below Mr. Freeman’s responses on the purpose of his company, please visit the site and reach out to Mr. Freeman and share those great things from all over that Black males are doing! Not only is this website and his mission important to shed light on the greatness of Black men, but the Black Male Archives (BMA) is archived by the Library of Congress.
Ki O’Shea: Why do you believe it is important to highlight positive men in 2019?
Mr. Freeman: It’s important to highlight positive images of black males because society lacks a holistic perspective about Black men. Too often, in the media, there’s a version about Black men that’s false and negative. Highlighting positive images and stories challenges this inaccurate depiction and provides a real holistic narrative.
Ki O’Shea: Why is it important that this site is achieved?
Mr. Freeman: It is essential that The Black Male Archives is archived by The Library of Congress for their web archiving project because there needs to be an alternative record for our society that shows an accurate portrayal of Black men. The Library of Congress is one of the main repositories of information for our nation. It pleases me to know that if something happens to me or something happens to The Black Male Archives, there will always be a record that shows our great accomplishments and achievements.
Ki O’Shea: What is your goal for The Black Male Archives?
Mr. Freeman: To capture ALL men doing positive things is my goal. The overall goal would be to archive all black men doing good work; no matter how big or how small. We have to tell our stories. Sometimes we feel that we don’t want or don’t need the recognition because as (Black) men that’s what we are supposed to do, but we owe it to our children to let them know what we have accomplished and what we have achieved. #ourleacymatters
Last thing that I will leave you with is an African proverb and it states “Until the Lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter.” We are Lions, let’s go ahead and write these storiesRF-jr
Mr. Freeman may be reached at: