photo: Michael Linsdsey holding a blackboard that says "black boys & men are lovable #ChaingingtheNarrative"

What does it mean to raise a black boy in America today?

That question is at the heart of a new 16-part podcast being released by the NYU Silver School's McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, featuring activists and academics discussing topics ranging from police brutality and mass incarceration to education and suicide prevention.

“With increased media and attention, more Americans are becoming attuned to the long-lasting impact and trauma of policies that have disproportionately targeted black boys and men,” says McSilver Director and Constance and Martin Silver Professor of Poverty Studies Michael Lindsey. The series—and an accompanying social media campaign using the hashtag #ChangingTheNarrative—aims to channel that renewed interest into both practical policy solutions and an effort to counter the myths and stereotypes that black men and boys face.

Presented in partnership with the Community Technical Assistance Center of New York and hosted by McSilver’s Jayson Jones, the podcast is part of NYU’s broader university-wide Strategies to Reduce Inequality Initiative, which Lindsey leads. “So many issues we’re struggling with—intergenerational poverty, the re-entry of citizens returning to the community from incarceration, affordable housing, homelessness—are underscored by inequality,” Lindsey says. “And these issues are so huge they will take a multi-tiered, interdisciplinary effort by all of the great talent at NYU and beyond to crystallize solutions.”

Conversations on the podcast, which targets a general audience, will include thought leaders ranging from LGBT rights advocate Tiq Milan talking about masculinity and trans black men to Columbia University's Flores Forbes, discussing reentry following incarceration. The accompanying social media campaign, launched with a video released over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, encourages New Yorkers to move beyond stereotypes by completing the phrase “Black Boys and Men Are….”

“Dr. King’s dream was that black men and boys would not be encumbered by the color of their skin,” Lindsey says. “He talked about the content of their character, and we’ve seen part of that dream realized in the first-ever African American president of the United States. But I think that he would be saddened by the reality that, 50 years after his death, we’re still struggling with issues like the relationship between law enforcement and black males. Launching on his birth date gives us the chance to celebrate so many of the successes that Dr. King dreamed of, and at the same time take a pause and say, we do have a long way to go.”