Empowering Black men across Washtenaw County is the goal of a new community program being launched this weekend.
WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with the man behind the initiative, Nate Frazier, about his ideas.
Lisa Barry: An Ypsilanti man looking to make a difference in the lives of African-American men in the community has a new idea to expand on that outreach. I'm Lisa Barry, and I'm talking about Nate Frazier, who joins us now to tell us about his latest idea. Good to talk to you again.
Nate Frazier: Yes. Good to talk with you.
Lisa Barry: What do you have in the works?
Nate Frazier: Well, what we have in the works is we have the Brotherhood. Like, for us by us. Everything that you're going to need as a Black man will be within the Brotherhood. We will have all types of resources, from counseling to jobs to learning how to start a business, to educating, to allowing, you know, Black men to understand who they are and get away from the trauma, as we call it, of 400 years ago of slavery, being taught self-hate. When you look at the Black man, the Black man is, I mean, is just what it is, looked at as the most dangerous species here on this Earth. You know, just being a Black man, you already looked at as a criminal in America. So, we want to change that narrative.
Lisa Barry: You want to change it from the inside out?
Nate Frazier: Exactly. From the inside out, changing the mentality of a Black man. Okay, that's the key here. To get him to understand that they are not beneath. OK, but they are supreme beings and that you are in America. Yes, you can accomplish. You can do anything that you want to do if you put your mind to it. So, my goal is to get the Black man away from looking at the system, looking at the systemic racism. We've been given not too much power for years, even, you know, in this generation. It's 2021, and we're still are talking about "We shall overcome." So, we want to get away from that and change the minds of the Black man mentality and just, you know, let them know who they are and what they can accomplish and not what society says who you are and has painted the picture of who you are and what the media says.
Lisa Barry: So, just to be clear, because I feel like we're walking a very fine line about some of the things that you're saying--a sensitive subject. Let's just be open and honest. It's sort of a sensitive subject.
Nate Frazier: Yes.
Lisa Barry: Your intention is to empower Black men to feel better about themselves and be more successful if I'm hearing you correctly.
Nate Frazier: That's correct. How can we do that through our resources that the Brotherhood has gonna offer? We'll be having meetings. We'll be sitting down with you, going to them young Black teenagers, empowering them, teaching them about Black history, our culture. When you look at our culture, it has been painted and painted, you know, like the sagging of the pants, and we call that swag. And it's just a lot of things that Black men I want to teach and especially regards of history because there's a lot of things that we do that we don't understand the history behind it. I want to educate them and understand, like, you're doing this because do you know the history behind that. Do you know where sagging pants come from. That comes from slavery. They called it buck. You know, that's what the master did. When he did what he did, he put the Black men pants down and had them paraded before their families in a row and letting everybody know that this person has been bucked. He's been humiliated. His manhood's been taken away.
Lisa Barry: So, you're saying it's not a way that one should want to walk around now?
Nate Frazier: No, it's not. It's definitely not a good image.
Lisa Barry: Right.
Nate Frazier: And it does not portrayed Black culture. It just doesn't. So, we're trying to get the young men to understand that, you know, I don't have a problem with what you wear, but I just want us to understand what we call swag and culture is not. That's not what it is.
Lisa Barry: You're having an event on Saturday. Tell us about that.
Nate Frazier: OK, the event Saturday is going to be awesome. It's going to be the introduction of the Brotherhood. That's the exact day. It will be marked as established. I have people coming in and partners. There's going to be partnerships. My first partnership is called the Cream. This is an organization out of Wayne County. They're partnered with the Brotherhood. They're going to teach Black men how to start business. They're LLC. A unique 501-C-3. We're going to be having teach-in sessions. I have another person coming in from Pontiac. That's called Pontiac Universal Crimes, and they're going to come in and partner with us. We're going to get a page that's called Washtenaw County Universal Crimes, where, you know, anything going on in the community. You can go on that page with this criminal. When you have something new to report you, you'll be able to go on that page. We can keep up what's going on here in Washtenaw County. I have another construction company coming is not going to partner with us. They're going to be offering people jobs--$20 an hour plus benefits working around the state of Michigan. So, I have educators coming in. So, it's a lot of people that I'm going to be partnering with whoever joins up with this Brotherhood. The resource is going to be right there for you.
Lisa Barry: We'll put a link to that with this interview on our web page, WEMU dot org. Nate Frazier, best of luck to you.
Nate Frazier: Thank you so much, and I appreciate you taking your time to do this interview with me in regards to the Brotherhood.
Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support. Make your donation to WEMU today to keep your community NPR station thriving.