The Black community has been disproportionately affected by what is said to be three pandemics: COVID, the fallout from racial tensions and the financial affects from COVID. Black youth are dealing with some of the same factors as other youth, but also a unique set of their own issues. Racism, gun violence, higher levels of incarceration for Black people all add to their struggle. “We are all in the same storm, but it’s becoming alarmingly clear that the Black community is in a different boat,” said Lisa C. Williams, the founder of the Black People Forward project.
Black lives lost to police violence, ongoing social media imagery, more deaths due to COVID in the Black community, and the emotional toll this has caused has brought young people to a hopeless breaking point. According to Suicide.org, every 100 minutes, a youth dies from suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Black youth ages 10-19. Suicide among Black youth, which for years trailed that of Asian and white students, has doubled since 2014 and is now twice the statewide average, far exceeding all other groups, according to the California Department of Public Health.
“The data is absolutely not surprising…Black students are in a crisis nationally,” said April Clay, head of counseling and psychological services at California State University, Los Angeles. “Many Black students are experiencing paralyzing anxiety and grief. It’s hard to talk about, and it’s hard for them to find help.”
The goal of the initiative is to bring together the striving, the influential, and the recovering—one unique experience at a time—to heal and move forward. The program takes a unique approach to mentorship and mental health, aiming to connect Black youth with Black professional athletes and entertainers in music, film, and television, as well as successful Entrepreneurs.Williams said, “Many of the youth we aim to serve are struggling to survive and dealing with depression and anxiety that is not being addressed. With the Black People Forward Project’s strong commitment to serve young black creatives, student-athletes and entrepreneurs, we believe that this initiative is the premier way of reaching and impacting the next generation to help them build self-esteem, build confidence and regain their #momentum.”
“The black community has been paralyzed from so many pandemics, the outcome we hope to achieve is reduce suicides, get our community off pause and move forward again,” Williams added.
The areas the BPF program offers support to Black youth and young adults ages 13-30 are:
- Mental and Physical Health – “Healing their Headspace” – Wellbeing
- Mentorship – Emotional Health “Getting Back their Black Joy” – Wellness
- Career Path Exposure – “Getting to the Bag”- Wealth
During Black history month, The Black People Forward (BPF) project held a focus group of young adults checkin’ in to learn what pressures they are under. Williams is looking to connect with professional athletes and celebrities to launch a checkin’ in campaign on Instagram.
The BPF project is also currently looking for donors, ambassadors and sponsors.
About The Black People Forward Project
The BPF project’s mission is to positively impact the wellbeing, wellness and wealth of Black people and specifically young Black creatives, student-athletes and entrepreneurs. The goal is to expose, empower and enrich the lives of 30 million Black people and help them live a better quality of life through mentoring, mental health and wealth experiences.
Contributions to the Black People Forward Project are tax-deductible. The Black People Forward Project is fiscally sponsored by F & L Organizational Support Services and the tax identification number is 47-3451951.