“Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.”
― Richard Wright, Native Son
Black men must have a vision for themselves. When you think about vision boarding, you might not picture black men sitting around a table clipping from magazines, but that was the exact means by which Men of Courage originated.
It was the summer of 2015 and we were at a critical impasse as a nation. From the shooting of Trayvon Martin to the murder of Micheal Brown, and all of the hashtaged names of senselessly slain black men in between, something sinister was brewing. We all felt it.
It was during this pivotal moment that Men of Courage founding architects, Shawn Wilson and Shaka Senghor sat together to create a vision – a vision board, specifically. Their goal: Create a vision for how black men can move forward. With vital input from co-founders, Dave Bing and Big Sean, that vision would evolve into a movement.
Since then, we have maintained this vision boarding exercise as a key component of the Men of Courage toolkit. We have been amazed to see what men can learn from the process of vision boarding and thinking strategically about their own lives.
The truth is, as black men, we have to be especially intentional about affirming ourselves and our vision. Using images from popular media, like magazines, is helpful in piecing together tangible, visual demonstrations of what we’re capable of accomplishing with hard work and focus.
During our inaugural Men of Courage forum, Big Sean lead a vision boarding group to create a board focused on the promise of black male youth. The process stirred conversation around changing the narrative around black men in America.
“There’s an invisible story that’s often not told about young black men. So I think that really starts off with describing us a human,” said David Robinson.
One-sided coverage from media has delivered prejudice against black men as the norm in society. And we know what is true and not true about us. You don’t have to be a dope boy, rapper, basketball player, or football star to be successful,” he continued.
“These stereotypes have been placed on us not just from society, but by our community,” said Big Sean. “It is imperative to teach young black men that they can be anything they want to be.” Vision boarding helps to start that thought process.
Check out this clip from our Men of Courage visioning session:
Using vision boarding as a means of setting goals is a healthy and productive practice, not only for black youth but adults as well. It’s about creating a daily visual to help focus our energy toward something real. Once a black man realizes his vision and the action steps needed to get there, he is unstoppable.