Message from the CEO

"What got us here won't get us there." Shawn Dove, CEO of CBMA

March 2018

A few months ago, having admitted that I was struggling to crystallize the next level vision for the Campaign for Black Male Achievement’s work, I stared into the face of our board member Dr. William Bell who asked, “What have you done to get you to this point?”

In reflecting on Dr. Bell’s question, I was reminded of how far CBMA has come in accomplishing a decade of work since launching at the Open Society Foundations in 2008 -- this in spite of the original intention of being just a three-year campaign. We are also rapidly approaching the anniversary of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination on April 4, 1968, a critical event that brings to mind another question Dr. King posed before his death, one that is still very much relevant today: “Where do we go from here -- chaos or community?”

50 years later, America is still balancing the daunting perils that Black people faced when Dr. King was still alive, and when the Kerner Commission released its findings depicting America’s tale of two separate and unequal societies. The persistence of those perils were amplified through this week’s New York Times headline Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys, which underscored the gravity of the racial, social and environmental factors that are consistently pulling our Black men and boys down at an alarmingly disproportionate rate to their White counterparts.

In light of these headlines, another urgent question that we at CBMA and all of us in the Black Male Achievement space must ask is not just how did we get here, but what will it take to get to where Black men and boys need us to go? This was a question CBMA explored in-depth yesterday with Silicon Valley Community Foundation President and CEO Dr. Emmett D. Carson during our live "Quantifying Hope" event in San Francisco

We must start by acting with three things:
Risk, Urgency, and Momentum.

It took great risk to grow and advance the work of CBMA while at OSF (at times even putting our jobs on the line) which brought us to eventually spin-off into an independent entity so that we could lean into this issue even further for next generations. As a nation, we too must take risks, particularly white people in power positions, by constantly telling the truth about America’s roots of structural racism and white supremacy that continues to drive the kind of data exposed in this week’s Times article.

The research also reminds us of how the criminalization and demonization of Black men and boys is dwarfing our efforts to build beloved communities where Black men and boys can thrive and prosper. In the face of this reality, we -- leaders in cities, communities, and philanthropy -- must increase the urgency with which we move our work forward, as highlighted in CBMA’s Quantifying Hope and Promise of Place reports. We can do this by continuing to call out and counteract the racist policies and structures that create the downward economic slide Black men are facing.

Further, Black communities must be united in creating, building and sustaining the momentum to effectively combat the barriers to our collective upward mobility. For starters, those of in Black Male Achievement must elevate our support of Black women in the #MeToo movement, and as government, organizational and business leaders. 

At a time when we are seeing Black women running for office in record numbers, we must do whatever we can to help fuel this momentum because our fates will always remain inextricably entwined.

Over the past decade CBMA, along with a cadre of collaborators, has catalyzed the growing field of Black Male Achievement, which in turn has helped spawn such national efforts like Executives Alliance for Boys and Young Men of Color, BMe Community, Cities United, My Brother's Keeper Alliance and many more cross-sector initiatives. There have been many milestones since the start of CBMA’s work to invest in leaders, organizations and strategies to improve life outcomes for Black men and boys.

Now, for us to endure the next 10 years, there must be a collective crusade of people who love and value Black men, boys, women and girls, and who will commit to acting with the level of risk, urgency and momentum critical to ensuring that the headline of 2030 will not be more of the same and shame we’ve been given.

Shawn Dove, Chief Executive Officer

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