After the murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, Former NFL tight end Martellus Bennett wrote a poem titled “Dear Black Boy.” The poem spoke to Black kids who are inundated with trauma because of all the images they see in media. That was July of 2016 and now Bennett’s multi-media company, the Imagination Agency, has published a book based on the poem. Bennett’s aim is to inspire Black boys to “dare, plan, work, and most essentially, dream clear of dictates, expectations or stereotypes.”
Police violence in particular motivated Bennett to action. Beyond the images on television, police violence touched his own family. In 2017 Michael Bennett, brother of Martellus, had a very bad encounter with the Las Vegas police. In that encounter, Michael alleged that the police held a gun to him and threatened to blow off his head. With constant trauma from the media and even in one’s own life, Bennett could only imagine how young Black children are impacted. Bennett chose to speak to them, in his own way.
Martellus wants Black children to imagine beyond what they see on television. He wants them to conceive of different possibilities. To that end, he founded his agency in 2014 to focus on education, film, app development, animation and a host of other creative pursuits for Black children. This latest book is simply one product of a much larger plan, for Bennett. In a very real way, Martellus is working to unlock the imagination of Black youth by modeling for them different possibilities.
Black children endure a range of traumas, daily. As a community we should work to protect them but also, inspire them to see much more than what is evident. Martellus is doing his part and we should all do ours. Whether you serve as a mentor, model entrepreneurship or take time to enhance a child’s educational experience, we all have something to contribute to the next generation.