Dove encourages support for young men at community level

JOSHUA BOUCHER | Staff Photographer
Shawn Dove speaks Tuesday at the Hall of Philosophy. His lecture, titled “Quantifying Hope for Black Men and Boys,” chronicled his life and his road to success and his work with the Campaign for Black Male Achievement.

Rarely do speakers at Chautauqua Institution encourage audiences to be gold diggers, or to help young black men find their G-spot, but that didn’t stop Shawn Dove.

It wasn’t vulgar, however. Dove, CEO of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, simply encouraged adults to mine for the talent (gold) inside young black men that have been undervalued by society.

His lecture, “Quantifying Hope for Black Men and Boys,” worked under Week Two’s theme of “Boys Will Be Boys, Then Men.” Straddling the line between simplicity and power, Dove’s voice reverberated throughout the Hall of Philosophy when he spoke Tuesday.

“There is power in hearing the right word from the right person at the right time,” Dove said.

While the Campaign for Black Male Achievement works with the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, Dove said the momentum for the movement has to start at a community level.

“The cavalry is not coming,” Dove said. “There is no cavalry coming to save the day in our own communities. There is no presidential My Brother’s Keeper limo that’s pulling up on every block, with Obama jumping out with checks and programs. We have got to be the curators of the change that we want to see.”

Dove’s words didn’t stray far from President Barack Obama’s iconic 2008 rhetoric when he said, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Although Dove’s work has been gaining momentum in the last several months, he said that these problems facing black men today are not new. He pointed specifically toward gun violence, academic underachievement and high incarceration rates. He did, however, offer a theory as to why things are not progressing as he desires.

“If not now, then when?” Dove asked. “Gun violence is not new in America; they had access to guns when I was growing up. Something curious has happened to this nation and the minds of our young men. We’ve lost market share in our young men’s minds. We’ve lost a sense of hope.”

Dove said an underlying cause of the problems that he works to solve is a lack of mentorship in the lives of young black men. He urged members of the audience to step up at a grassaroots level to encourage these young men to reach their potential.

“I might not be the one to [leave an impression,] but let us not underestimate the power of one person to change the trajectory of someone else,” Dove said.

Wrapping up the lecture, Dove spoke about helping young men find their “G-spot.” Despite the prurient connotations of the term, Dove only referred to their inner gifts, talents or gold that lie within them.

“When we help someone find their G-spot, they are less likely to pick up a gun,” Dove said. “[They are] less likely to pick up a joint, and more likely to embody hope.”