My Seven Black Fathers: A Young Activist’s Memoir of Race, Family, and the Mentors Who Made Him Whole

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2022-05-05 02:00Z by Steven

My Seven Black Fathers: A Young Activist’s Memoir of Race, Family, and the Mentors Who Made Him Whole

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (an imprint of Macmillan Publishers)
240 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780374604875
Audio ISBN: 9781250856319
Digital Audio ISBN: 9781250856326
e-Book ISBN: 9780374604882

Will Jawando, Councilmember
Montgomery County, Maryland

Will Jawando tells a deeply affirmative story of hope and respect for men of color at a time when Black men are routinely stigmatized. As a boy growing up outside DC, Will, who went by his Nigerian name, Yemi, was shunted from school to school, never quite fitting in. He was a Black kid with a divorced white mother, a frayed relationship with his biological father, and teachers who scolded him for being disruptive in class and on the playground. Eventually, he became close to Kalfani, a kid he looked up to on the basketball court. Years after he got the call telling him that Kalfani was dead, another sickening casualty of gun violence, Will looks back on the relationships with an extraordinary series of mentors that enabled him to thrive.

Among them were Mr. Williams, the rare Black male grade school teacher, who found a way to bolster Will’s self-esteem when he discovered he was being bullied; Jay Fletcher, the openly gay colleague of his mother who got him off junk food and took him to his first play; Mr. Holmes, the high school coach and chorus director who saw him through a crushing disappointment; Deen Sanwoola, the businessman who helped him bridge the gap between his American upbringing and his Nigerian heritage, eventually leading to a dramatic reconciliation with his biological father; and President Barack Obama, who made Will his associate director of public engagement at the White House—and who invited him to play basketball on more than one occasion. Without the influence of these men, Will knows he would not be who he is today: a civil rights and education policy attorney, a civic leader, a husband, and a father.

Drawing on Will’s inspiring personal story and involvement in My Brother’s Keeper, President Obama’s national initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color, My Seven Black Fathers offers a transformative way for Black men to shape the next generation.

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Will Jawando Doesn’t Have To Be The Next Obama

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-04-23 15:26Z by Steven

Will Jawando Doesn’t Have To Be The Next Obama

MTV News

Jamil Smith, Senior National Correspondent

There are rules for knocking on someone’s door while campaigning. And Will Jawando, a few weeks back, broke a big one. “Rule 101 in canvassing,” he told MTV News, “is that you don’t go inside.” This makes sense. There’s only so much daylight to use knocking on doors, and there are significant security concerns for all parties involved. “But as the candidate, I can break the rules,” Jawando said.

It didn’t seem like there would be any harm in this case. The woman who invited him in was a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor from Germany. “She wanted to talk, and I told her about my background: My dad coming to this country on the heels of a civil war in his country, and [me] growing up here,” Jawando said. “You could tell that she related.”

Jawando, 33, is the youngest candidate in a crowded Democratic primary race in Maryland’s upper-crust 8th Congressional District. But as he sat in this stranger’s living room, both of them were just different shades of the American immigrant story. The same thing can be said for Jawando’s former boss: President Obama. And the similarities between the two men are uncanny.

Both Jawando and Obama are the telegenic sons of African immigrant fathers and white mothers from Kansas (that’s where Jawando’s father, Olayinka, met his mother, Kathleen Gross, in the early 1970s, after fleeing Nigeria’s civil war). Both lost their first attempts to win public office: Obama in a congressional primary, Jawando for a Maryland state representative seat. Both are policy wonks with a talent for retail politics. Both are even married to women with the same name who are both accomplished attorneys; Jawando’s Michele is a vice-president at the Center for American Progress policy institute. Jawando served as the White House associate director of public engagement in 2010, and, if he wins in Maryland, will become the first Obama administration alumnus elected to public office.

Should he get there, of course, Jawando wouldn’t be Obama. Diverse black American lives have long been reduced to a monolithic “experience,” and that problem gets exacerbated when you happen to share uncanny biographical similarities with the President. Both men also have considerable political talent and a love for the wonkish details of policymaking, but Jawando makes it clear that he has his own reasons for entering politics…

Read the entire article here.

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What Makes Black Men Run From the Police?

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2015-09-28 00:40Z by Steven

What Makes Black Men Run From the Police?

The Root

Will Jawando

Your Take: A good, hard look at the statistics will tell you why African Americans have reason to fear an encounter with police.

t’s never much of a surprise when I hear it, but it stings all the same. Freddie Gray would be alive today if only he hadn’t inexplicably sprinted down his West Baltimore street. As would Walter Scott, the African-American man who was shot in the back in South Carolina fleeing a white police officer who then made an unsuccessful attempt to frame Scott for provoking his own destruction.

If only Sandra Bland hadn’t been so rude and had put out her cigarette when asked, no matter her constitutionally protected rights to both. If only Samuel DuBose had not tried to pull his car away from a Cincinnati university officer who then proceeded to empty a shell into his skull.

If only.

The question persists: Why do they run? Why do they run? Why don’t they just cooperate with the police? This is America, after all: a country where one is presumed innocent until proved guilty.

I know why. I am a black man, and I have been arrested. I am also a husband and father of three, a lawyer, a former White House aide and now a candidate for Congress

Read the entire article here.

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A Place in Between

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, United States on 2015-09-27 18:23Z by Steven

A Place in Between

The Washington Post

Kevin Merida, Managing Editor

Will Jawando sat on a Capitol Hill park bench admiring an unseasonably breezy August afternoon as he told his story of being half black and half white, “kind of a double outsider” in a nation still struggling with difference.

His story could easily be titled “Barack and Me,” for Jawando, who grew up in Montgomery County, also is the son of a white mother from Kansas and a black African father (his from Nigeria). Oh, and he just happened to marry a woman named Michele.

Now a legislative assistant to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jawando, 26, sees in Obama a politician who not only shares his personal story but speaks to the sensibilities of his generation. “Barack’s whole message is: ‘I can stand in everyone’s shoes.’ ”

Obama’s unique biography has been central both to his success as a presidential contender and to his opponents’ efforts to portray him as strange, elitist, untrustworthy. Over these next four days, as Democrats host their national convention in Denver, that biography will be on display for Americans to get a closer look.

It is commonly said and written that Obama would become the first black president, not the first biracial president. In part, that is because the nation’s history of racism and inequality continues to make racial milestones so significant, and none more significant than winning the presidency. One could argue that Obama is less the product of the Kenyan father who abandoned him at age 2 and more a reflection of his white mother, who traveled the world as an anthropologist, raising her son in Hawaii and Indonesia with help from Barack’s white grandparents…

Read the entire article here.

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