Ebony Magazine Cover Shows We Can't Give Up On Young Black Men


Ebony Magazine, a monthly magazine geared toward the African-American community, is releasing a special issue on the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin murder trial. The venerable magazine's September issue will feature four separate Trayvon Martin themed covers. One cover will feature Martin’s family. The other three will feature an African-American male celebrity and his son wearing grey hoodies. The celebrities are Dwayne Wade of the NBA champion Miami Heat, film producer and director Spike Lee, and actor Boris Kodjoe.

Ebony Magazine, along with others, is committed to not letting the tragic and senseless death of a 17-year-old boy go to waste. They are rallying and using this opportunity to drive the conversation on everything from the impact of “Stand Your Ground" laws to how to implement solutions that address the problems plaguing African-American youth. Ebony’s Editor-in-Chief Amy Barnett said in her press release, “We simply cannot allow the conversations on this issue to come to a standstill.”

In May 2013, the magazine launched a five-part series authored by Nick Chiles called “Saving our Sons,” featuring solutions to the problems that are plaguing young African-American men. Writing for mybrownbaby.com, the noted author explained, “The educational plight of black boys was a topic that hung over my head like a storm cloud — and became an even more acute interest when I had a little black male of my own at home.”

The solutions offered in the series include using sports, arts, after-school programs, and after-school jobs to keep boys interested and focused on school and to burn off excessive energy. Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, stated, “You have to help boys develop other loves, something they can be passionate about so they will discipline themselves.” David Banks, founder of Eagle Academy for Young Men, encouraged the use of mentors and role models to address the lack of fathers in the home, and Dr. Dana Suskind, a cochlear implant surgeon and professor of surgery and pediatrics at the University of Chicago, encouraged mothers to talk to their sons early and often, noting that poor children hear as many as 30 million fewer words by their third birthday than middle-class children — a condition that is exacerbated among boys. Child development expert Jelani Mandara noted that setting high expectations is critically important and Chiles pointed out boys need compassionate love, not just tough love. "Without love, they more easily succumb to the destructive forces that swirl around them,” wrote Chiles.

Hip-hop artist Talib Kweli has also been motivated to action by the death of Trayvon Martin. The politically and socially conscious rapper is joining with the legendary singer, actor, and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte and the Dream Defenders in their protest of Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws. Kweli told The Grio,They said they really need people to come down and support them so I decided to try to make a trip.” Kweli encouraged critics of hip-hop to engage musicians directly by asking political questions and listening to all of the songs released by mainstream and popular rappers, not just the ones that promote negativity. He said, “None of these albums are devoid of political content. All of their work has it in there.”