July 12th, 2012. A day to mark in history. The beginning of a beautiful change. The Boys and Men of Color Summit.

Many boys and men of color don’t truly understand how their skin tone automatically throws them into a world of statistics. Statistics that only prove they are bound to fail. Either by education, incarceration or death.

I’m sure many who have recognized these hardships may have even thought of it as adaptable. Something we can cope with, but about 175 young men, women, mentors and elders thought differently. They are the people of color who have spent 12 long hours at UC Davis for the summit. They are the seeds of the rapidly growing movement to become and make our change.

I was a lucky participant. Most of the activities were held inside Freeborn Hall. The day was mainly compromised of guest speakers, group icebreakers, poets, and raffles. The speakers were very inspirational, leaving the audience silent like children at story time. Every sentence impacted me and every story had me nodding. It was amazing how powerful the atmosphere in the building became. When it did get a bit dull, we had our very own DJ to keep things alive and pumping.

Lunch was a brand new experience. Everyone was handed a nine dollar card to spend at the UC Davis food lounge. This gave us all a taste of going to a university. We didn’t eat bored. There were Indian tribal dances who brought a spiritual sensation, and African drummers who thundered the building.

After lunch, we were separated into three groups. Violence, health and education. Whereas each team were brought into different rooms to discuss the three  topics. I was a part of the violence conversation. We engaged in an activity to figure out the roots of violence, and even broke it down to deep, inner feelings like pride and loneliness Men of color in the media, LGBTQ and restorative justice were a couple of the next work shops.

The day was constantly moving. We were sent on a scavenger hunt. We had an open mic where participants showed off their talents in rapping, poetry and dancing. I was ecstatic that more guest speakers shared their stories and poems. They kept everyone entertained and engaged. The closing ended with a union clap. An act where everyone listens to their heartbeats, and begins to clap along with it. A symbol meaning, together we fall, but together we rise.

Our summit was only the jump start to honoring our status of men of color. We aren’t done, and we shall continue moving forward to create better conditions in the lives of the generations to come. I hope to see you next summer at the Boys and Men of Color summit!