Blog Entry Youth Development

BMA First-Person: My Experience At the First-Ever Rumble Detroit

by Ronda Alexander

When I signed up to attend Rumble Young Man Rumble Detroit, I had no idea of what to expect; and while I was not completely sure of the goals I knew that it would be powerful.  After the experience I had spending three days with my Building Beloved Community Leaders fellows, I was confident that the experience would be impressive.

I was quite grateful for how intentional CBMA was about incorporating opportunities for self-care throughout the conference.  It reminded me that in order to do my best work and be the best advocate for Black men I need to take care of myself. 

We’re often taught that taking care of others means neglecting ourselves; however CBMA is intentionally helping to reshape and change that mindset.

While I am from Detroit and have lived here for most of my life, in my previous work I traveled 80-90% of the time meaning that I wasn’t really connected to what was happening in Detroit. In my current role I’m much more focused on Detroit, and I really valued the opportunity to share space with leaders across the city who have been solely focused on young Black males. It was also a great opportunity to learn more about what’s happening across the city in the space around Black male achievement.

Rumble Detroit really helped me to think more intentionally about how my work supports and affects outcomes for young Black men. My work centers on ensuring that Detroit high schoolers are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate life, and at least half of this population consists of young Black men. 

While we are working for all children, it’s becoming clearer that we have to be intentional about supporting educators in preparing Black boys for the future and equipping them with tools to thrive.

One of my favorite panels was about philanthropic entities that are supporting Black male achievement with their dollars. It is the responsibility of every stakeholder group within any community, especially in Detroit, to advocate for and ensure the success of Black men – from cradle to career. Given that so much of this work is led by non-profit organizations, who are largely dependent on philanthropic organizations, it is imperative that they intentionally focus their dollars on efforts centered on Black male success.

This gathering validated many of the things I learned during the start of the BBCL Fellowship. One of the things I found quite interesting between both learning opportunities was the focus on self-awareness – meaning being aware of who you are as a leader. As obvious as it seems, it’s been eye-opening to think more specifically about my role in this work and how I show up in both direct and indirect ways. In order to lead and advocate for Black men and boys, I have to self-aware about how I show up in this space and how I lead by example.

Ronda Alexander is Director of Corporate and Community Alignment for United Way for Southeastern Michigan. She is also one of CBMA's 24 inaugural Building Beloved Community Leadership Fellows. Follow Ronda on Twitter @Globyldreame.

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