Hope for Young Black Men: The Voices in Poverty Resist Series!


Tiny - Posted on 20 November 2012

Author: 
Jose VanDerburg

November 20th, 2012

When a child loses hope, I feel a whole lot of things are wrong. Young Black men start off in this America with a disadvantage. Dreams are not only deferred, they are often stolen, or seem unobtainable. I often struggle to find hope. But I usually do through my fellow brothers and sisters in the struggle.

I just lost my job, because of some injustice. I was struggling yesterday to find hope, to believe in my dream of becoming an executive director, when Kevin Winn, a three striker, told me his story that inspired me to dream again.

Kevin Winn started his own company off the bottom called Nini’s House of Fragrance. It’s a line with body and house products. Kevin told me about all he went through to start his business, where he came from, and how I too could win. His first job growing up in the ghetto of St. Louis was on an ice cream truck. He, like me, had grown up in a struggling home. At 20, with an AA in Economics he found himself working as a swimming coach, leading a Hispanic kid out of Watts to win a Junior Olympic gold medal at the expo park where I used to work. At 26 he had his first child. I explained to him my desire for a child. He encouraged me to stay focused because once he had his daughter he got into drugs and alcohol and was in prison 3½ years.

Kevin and I tried to figure out why Blacks with degrees end up in jail. It’s because we can’t figure out how to, or have no way to, apply our education skills to the streets we go back to. I expressed my frustration in finding a job and how I have to hustle too. He told me he thought that way too. He was sober his second time out of jail, so he sold but didn’t use no more. But then after voluntary manslaughter he got 15 years in state prison.

At this point I could see my life just like Kevin’s. How easily I could be cycled onto the conveyer belt to becoming another prison statistic.

Kevin and I both agree that young Blacks go into jail with no love or support. Even out of jail, we get little support. But we do run into change. The transformation of our minds comes from meeting a good role model. Mine is Pete White at LA CAN and Kevin's is Magic Johnson. Kevin said in prison he read about a brother who got out of jail and took acting classes and got a show on Fox. Young Black dreams can revive themselves with the story of another brother’s struggles. In jail he wrote a business plan and got out and started a business with the last $175 of GR. He named the business after his daughter Shanika and called it Nini House.

After hearing Kevin's story I had hope. I got hope through my brothers’ struggles and victories. Who's got a story to tell?

This story was written by Jose, a poverty skolar from the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN), for the Voices of Poverty Resist series. This series was launched out of a fellowship that Lisa received from the Marguerite Casey Foundation for journalism focused on poverty. Because Lisa leads with her indigenous values of inter-dependence she has created this collective journalism process where all of our voices in poverty are speaking for ourselves.

The transformation of our minds comes from meeting a good role model. Mine is Pete White at LA CAN and Kevin's is Magic Johnson. Kevin said in prison he read about a brother who got out of jail and took interior design and got a show on Fox.

You can support Kevin Winn and the struggle. Together staying fresh can cost us less . Increase our value of our minds,body and souls. Help keep a third strikers last chance alive, by contacting him by

Kevin Winn
213.570.1372
Kvnwinn@gmail.com
Www.Ninishouseoffragrance.com

PNN RADIO

Sign-up for POOR email!