From the Desk of
Kazz Alexander Pinkard, Harriman Clubhouse Director
For 140 years, BCNY’s mission has been to support boys by providing access to services they might not otherwise have at their school or community center. But our responsibility extends beyond our programs and services: we must also participate in the larger conversations about the boys we serve, including the national discussion about access and equity for boys of color.
This spring, I had the great pleasure of participating in NYU’s Boys of Color Initiative, a series of roundtable discussions, workshops, and meetings with other non-profit organizations working with boys and young men of color. As a part of this initiative, I got to spend time collaborating with other people who specialize in single-sex education about how to best serve boys of color, talking about best-practices, effective methods, and innovative approaches.
One of the things that I learned from the initiative is that our boys of color need a more intentional approach. Whether their challenges are at school (academic), with their peers or families (social-emotional), external (as they grow into contact with the outside world and challenges to authority), or perhaps with their own internal struggles (mental health and wellness)—we want our boys to know that we are here for them at BCNY.
Inspired by the things I learned at NYU, BCNY plans to bolster our current and upcoming professional development for staff. Our staff will be ready to have thoughtful and provocative discussions about masculinity, resiliency, and adolescent youth development for boys of color. And we’ll explore what it looks like to adapt our approach based on distinct experiences that Black, Latino, and Asian boys face daily.
By exploring our boys’ collective sense of identity, and rooting our programs in what our members need (in addition to what they like), we will be able to serve them better. I’m confident that our programs will take on a bold new face this fall, and our staff will be better equipped to develop and sustain a climate that supports boys’ resilience as we will continue to focus on the needs of boys of color. These intentional practices that will create a better outcome for all of our members.