What happens when the narrative of blackness that’s told by “the media,” is different than the life that you, your family and friends live? In 2016, after many years of displeasure, people of color are making necessary ripples in the entertainment industry that are resulting in more diverse depictions of what it means to be black.

The Cosby Show, A Different World and all great ’90s sitcoms aside, the 21st century ushered in a drought of positive black television, and it’s taking a toll on our youth.

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Photo: Giphy

As adults, we can enjoy a movie where the black actor has been cast as a drug dealer who’s life aspiration is virtually nothing. However, when you’re 13-years-old, consuming this negativity and attending an inner-city school taught by a teacher who likely doesn’t believe that you’ll ever go anywhere, who do you believe that you are?

More importantly, how do we reverse this damage? Enter, Young Black Successful, LLC., the brain-child of Moises DeLeon, an entrepreneur who got fed up with the narrative that white media was spewing about black youth.

The company’s mission is to change the perception of black youth in the media through three initiatives:

  • Hosting professional development workshops for high school students
  • Promoting success stories of black leaders, youth, entrepreneurs and activists
  • Collaborating with black-owned businesses

We spoke with Moises about Young Black Successful (YBS) and the impact that it’s made in our community.

Blavity: What exactly is Young Black and Successful and how does it help black youth?

Moises DeLeon: Young Black Successful, LLC., is a company that focuses on building a stronger and more unified black community. We hold workshops for high school students to teach them both business and professional skills that they can use to progress themselves and their careers. We have also held an after school Think Tank program where we had students identify issues affecting their community and then work together to identify solutions. Throughout the program, the students also debate each other on the issues and solutions so that they can know the full scope of every situation.   

B: What inspired you to start this company?

MD: I was watching the news one day and The Young Turks highlighted one of the many instances where Bill O’Reilly was slandering the black community. Another story where we were called thugs and criminals and were painted to have no hope of upward mobility in society. I was sick of hearing this narrative. I am still sick of hearing it. I knew plenty of successful and driven black people who were carving out a place for themselves in the world. But why weren’t we hearing their stories? I decided that we needed an outlet to highlight the millions of black people who are both striving for and achieving success every day. We could promote black endeavors and provide more role models for our youth at the same time.

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Photo: Bruce Miles

B: Why is this kind of work important? 

MD: If we want to fortify our community and move forward as a people, it is imperative that we invest in the next generation. It is necessary for these kids to learn professional soft skills and business skills if we want the black community to start building generational wealth. At the same time, it is necessary that black professionals and entrepreneurs in America take the time to mentor our youth and support initiatives to benefit them.

B: What kind of impact have you seen in students?

MD: For students in our Think Tank program, intellectual discussion and debate are regular activities. They are becoming more engaged with each other and the community every day and have truly been taking shape as leaders.

Our conference also had a strong impact on students. We held workshops in the areas of professional attire, interview etiquette, networking, financial planning, how to become your own boss, how to profit from social media and more. I was ecstatic to see that students were actively engaging with facilitators in every one of them. Students even pulled facilitators to the side for more questions after the workshops ended. When the conference came to a close, we were approached by students who wanted to know how they could get a YBS mentor, or if they could bring an after school program to their high school. It showed me exactly how eager to learn these students are. Rewarding doesn’t even begin to explain how that felt.

Young Black Successful, LLC. reverse negative images
Photo: Bruce Miles

B: How is YBS going to evolve in the future?

MD: Our goal is to bring our programs to cities across the country that need our help. In terms of immediate evolution, we are planning a cultural immersion trip in summer of 2017. We will be taking Chicago high school students to Atlanta to tour black businesses, universities, and historic sites. We want these students to have first-hand dialogue with entrepreneurs and college students who look just like them while in a prominent black city in America.

That interaction between black youth and black businesses is an area that we are looking to explore deeply. Definitely stay tuned to our Facebook and Instagram pages to see our progress on those fronts and more!

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