HomeGrown STL Director Sean Joe and St. Louis American Managing Editor Chris King have teamed up to produce a yearlong series called “Homegrown Black Males” to change the narrative for local black teens and men.
The series launched Aug. 9, marking four years since the police shooting death of Michael Brown, 18, to whom the series is dedicated.
“We want to reimagine St. Louis as a region greatly valuing black male upward mobility as an initial step, worthy of social and resource investments,” Joe and King wrote in the first installment.
Joe said the vision is for St. Louis to become the No. 1 city in which black boys can grow into young men with livable incomes and bright futures.
The Rev. Starsky Williams was the first guest writer and contributed the piece “I. Am. A. BLACK. Man.”
“It’s critically important that St. Louis as a region understands that the region’s health, the region’s economic prosperity is directly tied to black males, particularly this generation of 12 to 29-year-olds,” Joe said recently on St. Louis Public Radio’s St. Louis on the Air.
“The more we can engage them and help support and invest in them, the better position our region will be in economically,” Joe continued. He said he hopes the weekly series helps people understand “how dynamic the black the black male experience is in St. Louis, and then we can work collectively to really understand that we all want them to thrive and be healthy and to contribute, but you have to start with believing that they can.”
HomeGrown STL is a community-engaged research project of the Race and Opportunity Lab, within the Center for Social Development (CSD) at the Brown School. Joe is the Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor and associate dean at the Brown School, in addition to his role as faculty director of Child and Youth Development at CSD.