Heard, Not Judged: Insights into the Talents, Realities and Needs of Young Men of Color
This research team prides itself on the ability to communicate with young people. Since MEE’s first national research project, “Reaching the Hip-Hop Generation” (1992), we have been listening to people who are too often overlooked and underserved. We know how to gain access to the hardest-to-reach, and how to get to the bottom of often-complex behaviors and motivations. Part of the answer is that we go directly into the community to recruit and meet with our subjects, then we encourage them to speak in their language and style, in a way that makes them comfortable in taking on and talking about the most sensitive issues in their lives.
For this project, it was important to understand just how boys and young men of color define success, from their perspective and worldview. Young men of African and Hispanic descent opened up to us about their lives — and we heard their needs, dreams and everyday challenges; we listened to their recommendations and ideas for potential solutions, i.e., what they think would work, to give them real access to jobs, education, mentoring, healthcare — to equal opportunity. Then we collectively spent months thinking about, coding and analyzing what they said.
As a socially responsible company, we don’t do “top down” public health communications or behavior change campaigns. We would rather explore beneath the surface of what we think we know about an audience we are trying to reach and influence, understand their worldview and involved them in our “by and for” process to developing recommendations and solutions. We are excited about this newest opportunity to share our community-based participatory research, a chance to add young men of color’s voices to the dialogue kindled by national attention to their plight, with the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, The California Endowment’s “Sons and Brothers” Campaign and other enterprises. This research provides another window into their world.
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