Blog Entry Youth Development, Narrative Change, Education

Road to Rumble 9: Conviction

In the CBMA blog series "The Road to Rumble 9"we hear from Rumblers across the nation about their past and anticipated experiences attending our annual Rumble Young Man, Rumble convening in Louisville, KY. In each post we learn how their efforts to improve life outcomes of Black men and boys are mirrored and motivated by Ali’s 6 core life principles: Confidence, Dedication, Giving, Spirituality, Conviction, Respect. In this latest installment we're excited to spotlight the voice of Oakland, California native Kalin Pont-Tate, who is representing the East Oakland Youth Development Center, on the principle of Conviction.

"The youth are not the future, they are the now."

My name is Kalin Pont-Tate and I am a first generation college student at the University of California Riverside. I’m from Oakland, California and was recently invited to the Campaign for Black Males Achievement’s Promise of Place convening in Detroit, Michigan. Within those three days I was blessed to be able to represent the East Oakland Youth Development Center and all of those from my community who don't usually get those types of opportunities. 

The space was extremely powerful and, from the first night when I gave my youth perspective on various issues, I could see that I was immediately respected and valued as a voice. This is not always the case in the real world. Whether it be in educational environments, professional settings, or even sometimes in our own communities the youth perspective isn’t always taken as seriously as it should be. Needless to say, it was definitely appreciated and not taken lightly. Throughout the three days I chose to soak up any and all knowledge given to me. I took meticulous notes that I hoped would help me organize and put myself in a better position for the work I was doing back home and on campus. I stayed focused on the tasks at hand and made sure that if there was something useful I could take or contribute, that I always took that opportunity. 

A particular event stood out to me, as it kept being mentioned throughout the Promise of Place convening: Rumble Young Man Rumble. Every time I’d hear the name it seemed to jump out at me as something that was important and should take note of. I recognized that the space I was in at the Promise of Place convening was geared more towards the leaders servicing young Black men and boys. However, through my own research I found that Rumble offered direct access to young Black and men and boys like myself. At Promise of Place I was consistently the youngest in the room so appreciated the few who were around my age and gave me their different perspectives and viewpoints. However at Rumble I realized I would be surrounded by peers who looked like me from all sorts of different places around the nation. 

The knowledge and power I imagined at Rumble seemed too good to pass up and I began diving deeper into my research of the event. I watched a video on Rumble and saw that there were young men ringing a bell saying very distinctive and potent words. The one that stuck with me most was conviction. Conviction is defined as “a firmly held belief or opinion”, which to me means standing up for what you believe in and having confidence in those beliefs and/or principles. The reason why this word was so special to me was because throughout my life in Oakland and on my college campus my beliefs and opinions were often pushed to the side. The way I saw the world was different than most around me and I always took that and ran with it. I tried my best not to conform for the sake of making things easier.  

The Campaign for Black Male Achievement understands that. The work that they are accomplishing isn't easy and lacking conviction in any capacity is essentially lacking direction. I know that not having a definite direction or vision causes nothing to get done in an efficient manner. Being that I am the Black Student Union President at my university (among other leadership positions) I know that having a strong foundation and sense of conviction is important. However, what I really appreciate about CBMA is that their conviction doesn’t lack open criticism. It’s fine to be sure of yourself but if you leave no room for improvement or expansion then you’ll never be sufficient for the task at hand. Nothing remains the same. Therefore, your game plan shouldn’t either and I know that CBMA is cognizant of that and I appreciate them for it. 

After my three days with CBMA at the Promise of Place convening I was personally told to remember the words “nothing about you, without you”. This is what I feel like Rumble encompasses and why I’m extremely excited to attend for the first time. That quote is one of the many things I took back home with me. I explained to many of peers trying to do service work in their communities that if that did not have the input of the group they intended to help, then their vision and work will not be sufficient. We are not saviors; we aid in the process of progression and improvement. Without that insight and knowledge directly from the source we are not aiding anyone. 

This is why Rumble Young Man, Rumble is so essential. The inclusion of young Black men and boys within the positive work being done is not only powerful, it is insightful, crucial, and necessary. I can’t wait to contribute to it all. The youth are not the future, they are the now. May we start treating them like it. 


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