About five months ago, I attended a Boys and Men of Color meeting. Being new to the group, I focused on the many problems men of color faced, including issues of health, education and violence. I was usually thinking of local solutions like tutoring and after-school programs, health classes and gang awareness. When hearing about presenting these problems and solutions to the State, I was totally unprepared. When joining this organization, I knew we would be trying to change things, but I was clueless about changing policies.

I always knew there were people who fought to change the ways we live, folks who argue about certain issues that need to be changed. I didn’t realize how hard change can be. I lived careless, completely unaware of what was going on behind closed doors that are willing to be opened. When I was told, “We are going to the Capitol”, I made sure to do some research.

Assembly member Roger Dickinson’s Assembly Bill 2242 focuses on removing “willful defiance” as a reason students may be suspended or expelled. “AB 2242 would reduce the number of expulsions and out-of-school suspensions and the accompanying poor outcomes for students. It would also reduce the extent to which these practices disproportionately impact students of color,” said Dickinson. I found it amazing that men and women have already began to make changes that would benefit everyone statewide. I wrongly believed that the senate and assembly members were there to support us, yet we were brought to the table to support another.

After talking to these men and women at the Capitol, I found that they believe and approve of what we’re doing. I was grateful that these busy people actually took the time to listen to our struggles and solutions. Ecstatic that their committee is committed to pursue the changes that need to happen. Thankful that I, as a young man of color have opened my eyes to the other guys; the men and women in the background who deserve more appreciation than credited.