Back to School with Ron Brown High School in DC!
My name is Antonio Nwozo, I am one of the Founding Community Advisors of MindRight. I have created and presented many of the presentations to an array of students throughout Washington, DC this summer with the MindRight team. Having the opportunity to do 8 presentations at the Ron Brown College Prep High School was a real privilege. This was my first time in an all-boys school and I was amazed at the energy of the school as a whole.
We began our presentation with a quote that comes from the latest book Black Boy Feelings :“The main misconception facing black men is that we’re all scary or violent,” that we’re only either perpetrators of or victims of crime. Or that we’re all entertainers or ball players...There is very little space for black men to genuinely show emotion and vulnerability.”
When Presenting in Ron Brown to the 9th-grade boys it was just as expected, a fairly rowdy class with great ideas, bright minds, and full of energy. The classes enjoyed our MindRight presentations, and we had many who thought about signing up when we were done. It wasn't until I got to the tenth-grade classes did I see the reality of working in this all-boys school. I saw the rowdiness become calm and their answers to my questions become deeper. One of the things that really stuck out to me during the reading of the quote was how one of the groups of 9th graders were very attuned with the concept of emotions and what mental health means to them as young black males.
Being in a school with majority African American male school teachers was something special. I loved seeing the way that the children reacted to the masculine energy of the school's male staff and seeing how an even greater respect was given to the female staff when they were around. In my high school, not only was there a vast majority female staff but also a significant amount of them were not teachers of color. With that being said, the only black men at my school were either police officers, security, or sports coaches. I wasn't sure until now, that it was a problem.