Black men and teens are invited to a public forum: 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, at Self Enhancement Inc, 3920 North Kirby Ave. Portland. Hosted by, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., a Portland based fraternity, the forum aims to bring together men in Oregon and S.W. Washington to discuss how to improve the lives of Black men and their families locally and nationally.
"Calling together area Black men is critical to provide some context around an incident that resulted in the death of an unarmed black teen in Florida," says Blake Dye, principal organizer and Phi Beta Sigma member. "Black men in our region are personally affected by this incident."
Dye says that the forum aims to encourage Black men to talk freely in a "barber shop" type scenario, without having to be concerned about how they appear to others.
"We don't mean this to be exclusionary," Dye said. "But as men we react a little differently, and we want a chance to talk to other men and hold each other accountable in a safe and supportive space.
"Portland has such a small population of Black men that we don't always have a voice to drive a message. But we are directly affected and we need to have a way to discuss our feelings and perceptions so we can truly address these issues in the larger community."
Dye says he hopes other groups also will meet to discuss the issue, and promises that opportunites for community-wide discussion will be scheduled.
The forum comes as the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Florida teen, has reignited our national conversation about race. Tuesday's discussion will feature regional and national experts:
Andrae Brown – Counseling professor, Lewis & Clark College
Johnny Lake - Licensed School Administrator based in Eugene, Oregon
Marcus Sharpe – Healthcare Provider, OHSU
Black men of all ages are encouraged to participate and lead this discussion. The meeting's goals are outlined as follows:
• Facilitate a meaningful dialogue to affirm and support the pain felt in the violent death of another young Black man
• Move forward the debate about violence against Black men to friends, family, and potential allies
• Identify crucial resources needed to address perceived racial inequities
The event is co-sponsored by: Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare; the University of Oregon; Mosaic Blueprint Diversity; and R.L. Morgen & Associates.
Phi Beta Sigma Inc. is an international organization focused on issues that impact youth and our communities. Our program efforts are driven by our mission to address societal ills and improve the lives of men.