Local organization helps youth navigate troubled social climate

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An East Tennessee non-profit is helping young men navigate through the challenging times in our nation.

100 Black Men of greater Knoxville is dedicated to keeping youth on track.

“Our primary purpose is to serve as positive black male role models for young men and disadvantaged youth who don’t have that in their home.”said chapter president, Chris Beatty.

Beatty says right now is a crucial time for mentorship. The tragic events over the past few weeks have brought about tough but necessary conversations.

“Well unfortunately this is not new. We have been having this ongoing conversation with our young men. Mainly interaction with police. We address these issues of what we see now with the George Floyd protests, what we’re seeing now with Breonna Taylor, and Ahmad Arbery. We talk about those issues.” Beatty said.

Right now, leaders want to make sure they are helping their mentees properly process what they are seeing and feeling.

“Our mentoring program is not an one hour per week, 4 hour per month mentoring program, its whenever that young man needs us. We have a lot of contact hours with these young men so they get to know us, they trust us. And if they’re angry they get to express that anger and we deal with it and we move forward.” Beatty said.

Mentors are also having conversations with the boys about how to make their voices heard and productive ways to advocate for change.

“These young men in their adolescent stage are having to deal with this and you can deal with it the right way and handle it and respond to it the correct way or you can deal with it and go the wrong way.” said chapter Vice President, John Wright.

“We talk about being a leader versus a follower. So you can protest, we tell them you can protest but if you’re there, you try to be the leader so you’re not following someone that wants to riot, loot, or do something illegal.” Beatty said.

The most important thing right now, Beatty says, is for leaders to speak up and demand change so that they don’t have to have these difficult conversations with their mentees.

More information about 100 Black Men can be found on their website.

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