Looking back on Black History month and the celebration of all the African-Americans who have helped shape our society, we often forget to think about the people who are still making history – from our current President and transgender actress Laverne Cox, currently starring in Orange is the New Black, to NASCAR’s Darrell Wallace Jr. and former Miss America Erika Harold who is running in the 2014 Republican primary for Illinois’ 13th congressional district.
One notable example is author, activist, and co-host of on CNN’s Crossfire, Van Jones, who is featured in the recently released documentary, Forward 13: Waking Up the American Dream. In the video he explains the difficulty of achieving economic success in America today: the corporatocracy allows the 99% to fall behind no matter how hard they work. To learn more visit www.forward13themovie.com
And while it’s difficult for the average American to stay afloat, consider the thousands of young African-Americans. A young African-American male is more likely to end up in jail than as a computer programmer at Facebook. Nationwide, African-Americans represent 26% of juvenile arrests, 44% of youth who are detained, 46% of the youth who are judicially waived to criminal court, and 58% of the youth admitted to state prisons. Additionally, a new study by University of South Carolina published in the Crime & Delinquency found that 49% of black males are arrested by the age of 23. Having an arrest record this early can hurt a person’s ability to go to school, find work, or participate fully in their community.
Jones’ latest endeavor is called #YesWeCode, which is a nationwide initiative to help train 100,000 low-opportunity youth to become world-class computer programmers. And in America the options for a young African-American male to succeed shouldn’t be limited to becoming a drug dealer, basketball player, or rapper.
“Remember how Trayvon Martin’s hoodie was seen as a justification for his murder? But billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wears hoodies – and nobody shoots at him. So, let’s flip the script. Let’s give our hoodie-wearing youths the same tools, training and technology that the kids taking over Silicon Valley have.”
– Van Jones, Rebuild the Dream, Co-Founder & President
#YesWeCode will launch over July 4th weekend at the Essence Festival in New Orleans.
- #YesWeCode – http://www.yeswecode.org/
- About Van Jones – http://www.vanjones.net/about
- Rebuild the Dream – http://www.rebuildthedream.com
- Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice – http://www.cjcj.org/news/6355
- Stop & Frisk NY Stats – http://www.nyclu.org/content/stop-and-frisk-data
- NAACP – http://www.naacp.org/pages/criminal-justice-fact-sheet