A summit designed to focus on the plight of Black males is heading to town and the Defender talked with the organizers
Defender: What are your primary goals in hosting this summit every year? 
Where I grew up there were no programs that addressed the unique needs of young Black males. If young men are not educated by strong men they will be miseducated by the streets.
Defender: The obstacles that Black men face in America are consistent, systemic and relentless. If we are to teach our youth to overcome those obstacles we must also be consistent, systematic and relentless.
We’ve hosted the Smart’n Up Black Male Summit every year for 9 years, because in order to make change we have to be consistent. The summit lays the groundwork for the work that we do year-round; sort of like a football huddle before the big play. Our primary goals are to unify, inform, inspire and give Black males the tools needed to survive and succeed from a Black man’s perspective. Just as a lion responds to the roar of another lion; Black males respond to the voice of strong Black males like they respond to no other voice. However, we must be consistent. People have attended the summit and found everything from jobs to mentors to inspiration to go back to school to continue their education. You’d be amazed at the majic that happens when hundreds of positive Black males come together under one roof.
Defender: What are some of the unique needs of young Black males that you will address during the summit?
According to a recent study, 1 in 5 Black men did not work or have any earnings in 2016. It’s a hell of a thing when you can’t even be first-fired because you were never even hired.
Defender: At the Black Male Summit we drive home the point that the only permanent job is the one you create for yourself.
We unapologetically promote Entrepreneurship. Another recent New York Times article highlighted a new study revealing how Black boys raised in America, even in the wealthiest families, still earn less than White boys with similar backgrounds. Black males must be taught the truth. We do not live in a post-racial society. We still have to work twice as hard to earn half as much as our White counterparts. Our young men and boys must be taught how to handle being racially profiled like the two young brothers who were arrested at Starbucks and how to survive police encounters like the one that recently took the life Stephon Clark in Sacramento. We must also be taught conflict resolution. The death of 8 year-old Tristan Hutchins (murdered in a 3rd Ward drive-by shooting) must serve as the straw that broke the camel’s back for us all. We have to put down the guns and pick up a trade.
Defender: Why or how are Black males at risk today?
The question is how are Black males NOT at risk? Let’s start with education. Malcolm X referred to education as the passport to the future. At the time of this interview the Houston Independent School District is on the verge of closing 10 schools, most of which are in Black communities. At the same time, Judges like Harris County’s Mike McSpadden openly admit bias towards Black males in courts of law. The school to prison pipeline targets Black males now more than ever. The absence of the father in the home leaves the Black male at risk. The popularization of synthetic marijuana (kush), pills, “lean” and other drugs leaves the Black male at risk. Mr. Trump and the vast majority of the radical policies he proposes, such as the death penalty for drug dealers, take aim at our young brothers.We used to say every time a Black male leaves his home he is at risk. Truth is, he doesn’t even have to leave the house anymore. All he has to do is “be born.” Our job is to teach him how to manage and overcome the risks and turn the risk into reward. It can be done.
Defender: How can the community help address the challenges Black males face?
I feel like Black women are at the forefront of the war to save Black males. It’s time for we as Black men to unite and step up to the plate. As a community, we must not internalize the negative stereotypes portrayed by the media about our young men. If this is a lost generation we must ask the question “who lost them?” If they are lost that means they can be found. It is our job to develop programs that specifically speak to the Black male experience year-round. It is our job to build businesses that create jobs for them. It is our job to mentor at least one young brother. We must help them discover and develop their gifts and talents. Most importantly, it is our job to encourage them and let them know someone cares. Everyone has a role to play. We must all be found doing our part.
Defender: Tell us the details about the summit:  Speakers, Workshop titles, a mini-schedule.
This year’s summit will be high-impact from beginning to end. We’ll start with a presentation from myself about How to  Rebuild The Destroyed Black King. We’ll discuss the formula used to destroy the Black male and how we reverse-engineer it to rebuild what was destroyed. Our workshops include “Stop the Killing” by Baton-Rouge based activist Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed, “Entrepreneurship 101” by businessman Al Rucker and other dynamic speakers like Pastor E.A. Deckard and others. There will be “day mentors’ on hand to engage attendees, as well. This year’s panel discussion will deal specifically with the importance of becoming your own boss. Food is complimentary and ADMISSION IS FREE!