20150410_092540On April 10, 2015, the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center, in collaboration with Common Justice and Achievement First, hosted a conference titled, “Paving The Way to Healing and Recovery: Conversations with Young Men of Color Who Survive Violence.” This conference was the first of it’s kind, focusing specifically on addressing violence on young men of color. The day began with a panel titled, “For Men of Color Living is a Radical Act – Why?” and then continued with 16 breakout sessions, which were attended by over 200 people.

In the opening panel, panelist William Evans of the Fortune Society spoke about the connection between growing up around violence and learning to perpetrate it. He explained, “The amount of hurt we go through creates a violent mentality. I had to learn how to heal and not just react.” Panelist Donell Penny of Common Justice added, “My father taught me not to feel because he thought it would protect me. We’ve learned to be numb. We see violence and don’t feel anything. When you learn to be in your feelings you create options.”

Throughout the day, attendees engaged in conversations on best strategies to work with young men of color impacted by violence. Workshops examined trauma-informed approaches, creative healing and recovery methods, and intersecting identities among other topics. Many attendees took to social media to share information and their thoughts on the conference with the hashtag #WhatWorks.

As Men’s Empowerment Coordinator, Kenton Kirby stated during opening remarks of conference, the day was about support and growth and remembering that we are all in this together. We enjoyed working with partner organizations to put this conference together and hope that the conversations that took place that day will continue!

For more information on the conference, visit: http://crownheights.org/makeithappen/paving-the-way-conference/