I can remember March 26, 2012 vividly. I rushed out of my office early and went to my daughter’s day care. She said, “Dad, can we go get some McDonalds? I said yes. I knew she would need some fuel for the rest of our evening activities. So, I complied with her request.
Immediately after she finished her meal we rushed downtown to the American Legion Mall where the crowd was almost as big as Indiana Black Expo’s annual free concert. I was very impressed with the large turnout that gathered in the name of Trayvon Martin as a sign of solidarity. There were people of all ages and of all races demanding justice for the family of Trayvon Martin. As my daughter and I got closer, we witnessed an incredible peaceful protest, a sign of solidarity and unity.
Unfortunately, eight years later not much has happened with those demands. All over the world people from every class, creed and race are still demanding justice for Black people, in part, because of the several Black males who have died at the hands of law enforcement officers.
I got involved with the Indiana Commission on the Social Status of Black Males (ICSSBM) because I believe that we can make Indiana a better place for Black males. I believe we can lead the nation in changing some of the bad statistics as it relates to our Black males.
Here in Indiana, the following cities have a commission on Black males: Bloomington, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Gary, Jeffersonville and Michigan City. Notably missing is Indianapolis, which has more Black people than all of those cities combined. There are only two ways you can establish a local commission on African American males: the first is by executive order via the Mayor’s office and/or a city-county council ordinance.
The Indianapolis Commission on African American Males (ICAAM) was started prior to the Indiana Commission on the Social Status of Black Males via executive order under Mayor Steven Goldsmith. Sometime during the last mayoral administration the commission was dismantled.
Our request is simple Mayor Joe Hogsett needs to reactivate the local commission on African American males. “Some may read this and ask: have you meet with the mayor and or city-county council leaders, and/or have you provided a framework and a sustainability plan?” “Yes and yes.”
We first met with the mayor’s office in 2017. In 2017, ICSSBM was in the last phase of our five-year strategic plan, which included reactivating the ICAAM. Since that meeting, a plethora of fraternal and civic organizations have requested that Mayor Hogsett reactivate the ICAAM. There is currently a petition, on https://www.change.org/INDYBLACKMALESMATTER, which has reached almost 10,000 signatures.
The ICSSBM stands by ready and willing to assist Mayor Hogsett in providing whatever resources we have to help with this effort. We know that reactivating the ICAAM is not a panacea, but we believe emphatically that providing data on the condition of Black males in areas like health, education, social factors, employment and criminal justice will help leaders craft and create policy that makes Indianapolis a better place for our Black males. My hope is that when my daughter is my age, she will not still be marching for justice and equity for our Black males. The time is now to act, Mayor Hogsett we are counting on you to act now!
Kenneth Allen is a serial social entrepreneur and currently serves as the chairman of the Indiana Commission on the Social Status of Black Males. Allen can be reached on all social media platforms @Kennethbizallen or firstname.lastname@example.org.