“The founding of Brothers Building A Better Nation”
By: Quadeer Porter, MHA, Founder/President
Too much of our youth's blood has been spilled in streets of Newark due to senseless violence. Even with the millions of dollars and multitude of services offered by the city, non profits, and local businesses, minority male youths' lives are being lost due to gun violence, gang warfare, drugs, or a combination of them all. I’ve witnessed this with my own two eyes in my community. In 2020, I purchased my first home, a multifamily, located in the central ward part of Newark. When I first came to do a walkthrough of the house, a young brother, his name has been changed to protect his identity in this post, named Jahim was sitting on a step on the walkway to my backyard. Startled, he apologized for trespassing and promised to leave while requesting that I didn’t call the police. I reassured him that I wasn’t going to do any such thing and he thanked me profusely. He asked me if I was renting a room at home and if I was, to be careful because the owner was not fond of black people. I told him that I was the new owner and his eyes widened. “I’ve never seen a black guy own property on this street before!” After that day, more young black males came to my home asking for guidance and advice. Many of them tell me harrowing stories of sleeping in abandoned homes, being in shootouts, and repeatedly being incarcerated in short time spans. This cycle of trauma continued in their lives until they were either killed or permanently disabled. After one of the young brothers who was shot and killed at the age of 25, I decided to take matters into my own hands and seek to create a community built with brotherhood and goodwill.
The brother who was killed by gang violence was Jahim’s cousin Karim. Jahim called me crying, asking if I had money to contribute to Karim’s funeral. At that time, all my resources were tied into the house and I wasn't able to contribute anything. The next day I got an idea and went across the street where the young men and drug dealers would usually hang out. I asked the young men standing outside about what’s causing them to repeatedly go back to selling drugs and into gang life after they’ve been released from jail or the hospital. None of them were held more than 24 years old and some were still in their teens. One of the brothers told me straight, “No jobs are gonna hire us Qua, you know this.” “On top of that, the jobs out here wanna pay us minimum wage, then hardly give us hours.” As fast as they were talking, the faster I began writing in my notepad what barriers they were facing. After 30 minutes, one of the young men asked me why I was writing in a notepad and asking them so many questions. I told him that I had an idea. What if we created a non profit that solved all the issues they were naming which were, housing, banking, medical insurance, job training, access to mental health, primary care, and legal assistance. The guys eyes widened and one of them asked, “are you forreal?” I said, “Yeah I’m dead serious.” They asked me what I needed and I told them, “Stay alive and out of trouble.” They looked at each other confused and shocked. Out of the 12 young men who were originally there, 3 stayed and we began planning what this non profit would look like. After another 30 minutes of talking to them, I went back home to rest and digest what had just happened.
I stared at the ceiling for hours asking myself, what was I even doing and what kind of organizing was going to be built. After several hours of tossing and turning in bed, I began to go to sleep and dream about my college days. I was the President of an organization called, Black Men’s Collective and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. I remembered how much brotherhood was heavily emphasized and that we pushed one another in positive directions. Then, I began to remember a book entitled, “The Black Muslims In America,” by C. Eric Lincoln who detailed how the Black Muslims were able to rehabilitate black men who came straight out of jail. A lot of these men were repeat offenders and violent, Malcolm X being one of them. While I do not align with the views the nation has on many stances such as women’s rights, sexual expression, anti semitism, and a host of other things, but I was fascinated by their outreach model and method of connecting with those who felt abandoned by mainstream society.
At this time, our organization is still growing. Each and everyday, we discover something new in our outreach model and improve it. We envision a bridge that brothers can utilize to help them overcome the barriers they’re meeting when trying to get their life back together. I believe that the new world problems we have can be cured by a lot of the ingredients found in old remedies. Direct outreach, empathy, compassion, and love for all mankind needs to be the foundation of the movement we’re looking to usher into this era. Goodwill is the monarch of the house we’re looking to build in our nation. That is why we will need all the help we can get. If you, or anyone you may know, wants to help us build a better tomorrow for the young men in our community, reach out to us immediately. Let’s all come together and build a better nation.