Archive for Sunday, September 27, 2009

Group aims to help black youths in everyday life

Craig Butler, facilitator of the Courageous Conversations group, a gathering of black students and black adults who discuss everything from school to dating, meets with a group of Free State students.

Craig Butler, facilitator of the Courageous Conversations group, a gathering of black students and black adults who discuss everything from school to dating, meets with a group of Free State students.

September 27, 2009


Mentors: Life's teachers

A community service that rewards both volunteer and benefactor, mentoring doesn't require any special skills. found great examples of mentors who were making a difference in the lives of others.

In Room 113 at Free State High School, a group of about 20 boys — all black — waited for their seminar class to begin. They cracked jokes, teased and lounged back in chairs.

The boys didn’t quiet down until Craig Butler — a large man with a booming deep voice who peered over the glasses perched on the tip of his nose — told them why they were there.

“Traditionally, black males score the lowest in achievement tests taken in high school,” Butler said.

The group grew seriously silent.

“One of the premises we have,” Butler continued, “is the scores you get on those tests are not indicative or reflective of your intellectual abilities.”

Over the next nine months, the collection of Free State sophomores, juniors and seniors will meet with Butler and other black men in the community to talk about class, teachers, dating, health and, most importantly, how to navigate life as a young black male in a predominantly white world.

“You exist in a subculture. Are you aware of that?” Butler asked the group.

The program began last year at Lawrence High School and spread this year to Free State and Prairie Park School.

It started with the volunteer time by Butler; former school principal Willie Amison, who now is a project coordinator with Kansas University’s education department; and three Lawrence school district security guards.

“The kids have a place to talk, vent and understand they are not the first ones to be going through (these) life situations. We have done it too,” Butler said. “We’ve lived the same kind of lives they have.”

Butler, who raised three children, worked in the governor’s office and is a longtime youth basketball coach, is now retired but still substitute teaches.

The program isn’t a one-on-one mentoring situation, but it does allow the men to reach out to youths, whom Amison calls “works in progress.”

“All of these guys are smart individuals,” Amison said. “But a lot of time their behavior doesn’t give the right impression about who they are.”


Paul R Getto 8 years ago

Good program. If you are posting on these blogs, the chances are you picked the right parents, are of the (temporarily) 'majority' race and went to public schools. We need to help everyone as best we can and this is a good approach.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

Yea, james, that would be exactly the same thing-- if it weren't for the centuries of slavery, systematic racism, discrimination and economic exploitation based solely on the continent of origin of one's ancestors.

Amy Heeter 8 years ago

This is not racism. If you think it is than you certainly have no clue. Craig Butler is a excellent choice to facilitate this program. There are plenty of programs that only include white male participants. You may not realize that. I suggest you do a little research. you may want to start by reading Claude Brown's 'Manchild in the promise land'

tomatogrower 8 years ago

JamesUnruh is one of those people who will whine about how black men don't take care of their responsibilities, then when someone tries to solve that problem, they will whine about that. Don't worry Jimmy boy. I'm sure if they turn these young men into responsible adults, then you'll be able to find something to whine about here on the whiner's forum.

tomatogrower 8 years ago

He is just like that person, maybe I should go back see if it is him, who whined about the free dental care given to people with no dental insurance and little money. I mean the dentists volunteered, no money came out of this person's pocket, yet it was a horrible thing to help people. Let them join gangs instead, right? I'll even bet you consider yourself a good little Christian.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

James-- these meetings very clearly do NOT try to inculcate in these kids a hatred of white people. Whether you want to admit it or not, black kids, especially boys, do not grow up with a sense of inclusion in the greater society, and it stems directly from the "centuries of slavery, systematic racism, discrimination and economic exploitation" I referenced above. It sadly continues today, although at a fortunately much reduced level.

So would you rather that Craig Butler not meet with them-- not try to guide them in becoming fully functioning members in their communities? Would you rather they cancel these meetings, possibly meaning a few of these boys fall through the cracks and take the easiest route available to some of them, often meaning lives of crime and drug addiction?

Or are you so blinded by your "white outrage" that you see anything that black folks do as an attack on yourself and "your" people?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

My guess is that you screwed up every opportunity you ever had, James, and rather than take responsibility for your own shortcomings, and doing what it took to fix them, you instead decided that everything wrong in your world was because some black person "stole" your birthright as a free white man.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

I seriously doubt that there is anything "race specific" in these meetings, James. The message is probably the same that any mentor would give to any group of youths. The point is that these kids can identify with Butler, and therefore hear the message better than if it were coming from someone who hasn't lived through and doesn't understand their life situation (which you clearly don't-- or is it that you just don't care?)

Amy Heeter 8 years ago

Craig is a educator and just so you know he has worked with various populations over the years not just black males. I cannot tell you where the funding for this program originates but I'm sure it is all above board.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

It wasn't an attack. I was just trying to understand you motives, ugly as they are.

Stuart Evans 8 years ago

so what don't white teenage boys get the same type of program? White teenage boys are going through the same hard times that the black teens are going through. singling these black kids out is just another way to tell them that they are different and that they do need special preferential treatment.

I agree with JamesUnruh, how long would an all white boys meeting at a public school last? Al Sharpton & Jesse Jackson would be picketing within days.

daddax98 8 years ago

"Many of our athlete(s) come from a very misogynistic inter(sic) city culture."

James you said this on another thread and you are correct i suppose you are talking about the many "black male" athletes correct? It is obvious that you recognize that there is a problem and this is exactly the type of program that is needed to address the particular problems young black males face.
Or maybe you have a better answer to the problem?

Stop bitching

Steve Jacob 8 years ago

I can see where James is coming from, but "He is already legally discriminated against in college acceptance and job opportuniies." is laughable.

daddax98 8 years ago

wait I will answer for you... Build more prisons

daddax98 8 years ago

last thing then brunch time. You could have made a valid point but you had to go with "Obama praise song" comment which pretty much pigeon holes you petty, bitter little man bet you love the hell out of some glen beck don't you?

Amy Heeter 8 years ago

White teenage boys go through many of the same things as black teenage boys not all. For example it has been common for white males to attend college fo a long time. In a large majority of black families males are only in the first or second generation of college educated males. Young whilte males have been encourage to excell for generations where for black males the best that could be expected was a laborer position.

jonas_opines 8 years ago

"White teenage boys are going through the same hard times that the black teens are going through."

That is a pretty laughable assertion, at least by most statistical analysis available for the last few decades.

JamesUnruh (Anonymous) says…

“There are plenty of programs that only include white male participants.”

"Name one."

Johnson County. >B^)>

Stuart Evans 8 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

workinghard 8 years ago

I think we are overlooking something here, I'm sure some of those kids are bi-racial, the guy in the back in a green t-shirt surely must be. Should they be excluded because they have "white" blood in them, or is the "one drop rule" being used to exclude them from the white race? This program will benefit both races in the long run.

jonas_opines 8 years ago

Other than your ridiculous last line, that seems to be the point of what's discussed above in the article, at least in part.

jonas_opines 8 years ago

Sorry, for areunormal, not workinghard.

workinghard 8 years ago

Have any "white" boys asked to attend the group and been told they cannot attend? Unless they have, you cannot claim they have been excluded.

femmefatale 8 years ago

First of all the article said that they are volunteering, so no your precious tax dollars are not funding these meetings. Whether you care to admit it or not things/opportunities are not equal for blacks and whites. Yes even today and in 2009 and with a black president. I helped facilitate the meetings at Prairie Park and I want to extend a resounding Thank You to Mr Butler and the other volunteers for extending a caring hand and being a role model to our young black men. Profiling and other forms of racism and inequality are a sad fact of life.

jonas_opines 8 years ago

femmefatale: Unruh is our resident oft-booted supremacist. You won't change his mind so I'd just ignore him. Even if he's shown as absolutely off-base he'll just switch topics to a more convenient one, like he did here with affirmative action.

Dalmia 8 years ago

I had the opportunity to sit in on one of these sessions facilitated by Craig Butler & Dr. Amison. They both are doing a great work & fulfilling a need in young boy's lives. To be able to have a platform for these young men to discuss & converse about issues affecting them in everyday life in a safe atmosphere, is both needed & welcomed. One interesting aspect of the group is the closing in which Mr. Butler & Dr. Amison encourage the boys to invite a friend, not just a black friend, but anyone of any race.

Another interesting aspect of the group is a film they show which depicts the struggles so many of our races/ethnicities in our world have endured...the Chinese, Jews, Indians, etc. So when you open the group to everyone (as they have done) you provide the opportunity to allow everyone to sit at the table and openly discuss issues relating around race, every day issues males face and allow these young men to have the courageous conversations that are so very much needed, thus benefiting all that attend.

I wish the article would have mentioned that although the group is "aimed" at black males, all are invited to attend. I also wish the article mentioned that the group is supported by the school's principal and that he attends every meeting.

tomatogrower 8 years ago

He's just afraid that once we start giving blacks self respect they might compete with him, and he couldn't handle that. Or one of them might become his boss. That would be a hoot.

daddax98 8 years ago

"White boys are the only class of society leagally (sic) discrimated (sic) against by our affirmative action laws. Plain simple truth. Why aren’t african americans outraged by this? they suffered under biased laws for years. Are they just racist? Justice and eaulaity(sic) under the law for all, even for poor white decendents(sic) of Irish and German immigrants. You know those who made up the majority of the 300,000 dead union soldiers. Who died to end slavery to end fudalism(sic)"

what the hell does this have to do with the high school volunteer mentoring program?

femmefatale 8 years ago

jonas_opines: Don't even get me started on affirmitive action! He has opened his mouth and confirmed his position as village idiot.

daddax98 8 years ago


if the journal world actually had journalistic standards higher then the local grade schools we would have missed out on the illogical rants of a depraved angry white guy

tomatogrower 8 years ago

Thanks for the information Dalmia. Hopefully this will take the wind out of the racist's sails. It won't change his poor, pitiful "I am a victim" attitude. He'll have to go into his corner and whine somewhere else.

maybeso 8 years ago

Way to go Mr. Butler! A great positive contribution from a positive adult who loves kids and wants them to acheive their potential.

RogueThrill 8 years ago

Man, you people are just freaking heartless.

Somebody or some people try to do good by a traditionally disadvantaged group and you get all pissed because whitey isn't getting his.

If you want to see a whites only support group meeting then odds are you only need to look at the boardroom of the company you work for.

RogueThrill 8 years ago

Well, I am white so you are just going to have to deal with the monikers I assign to my race.

RogueThrill 8 years ago

And self aggrandizement is still delusional.

We haven't even come close to approaching a system where white people can complain about the hand they are dealt.

You are criticizing a group of people trying to correct something that is wrong with their community by calling it reverse racism. You are criticizing people who are, using conservative terms, picking themselves up by their bootstraps.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

RogueThrill 8 years ago

I don't know how old you are, or how you came to your your conclusions, but I am all of 31.

It's almost as if you feel a 31 year old white dude can't understand that he has been granted subtle privilege based on something as retarded as the color of his skin.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

" I have experience the bite of anti-white racism more than say a baby boomer. "

If it was really such a "bite," then I'm sure you can be more specific.

jonas_opines 8 years ago

"If it was really such a “bite,” then I'm sure you can be more specific."

Gods, please spare us.

"It's almost as if you feel a 31 year old white dude can't understand that he has been granted subtle privilege based on something as retarded as the color of his skin."

I've accentuated the key word here. Go back and read the posts again. I'll wait.

/Now, does that strike you as someone able to appreciate, or even recognize, "subtle?"

kansasplains 8 years ago

This is the kind of thing that every American youth needs. Congratulations, Dr. Craig Butler! Lawrence Morgan

RogueThrill 8 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Godot 8 years ago

Wow, just read Dalmia's post. I am not surprised, but am very, very disappointed that the JW would misrepresent what this program is about. What was the motive for this?

beatrice 8 years ago

invictus: "We can a gree to disagree bozo. Do they start each “blacks only” meating with an Obama praise song?"

Why, because he is President of the United States? And do you eat hamburger or steak at a "meating"?

I'm with Jonas. Give us examples of the "bite of anti-white racism" you have received. Was it when you were traveling the world seeking out "white culture"?

jonas_opines 8 years ago

You're not with me on that one, Bea, but rather Bozo. I'd rather not have to hear whatever he comes up with.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

"You're not with me on that one, Bea, but rather Bozo."

It was more of a rhetorical question, anyway. Even if he does answer, I doubt that many would find it in any way satisfactory.

mom_of_three 8 years ago

This sounds like a great program. I hope it is successful.
Everyone needs a mentor to look up,to and young black men are generally in a group where mentors are lacking in their lives.

jonas_opines 8 years ago

"Even if he does answer, I doubt that many would find it in any way satisfactory."

Yes, that's what I was implying.

beatrice 8 years ago

jonas, sorry for inadvertently adding you to the bus.

daddax98 8 years ago

ill drive the bus if we can throw james under it

corduroypants 8 years ago

JamesUnruh (Anonymous) says… That doesn't make it OK. Self hate is still hate. ===============

What about self love? Let's take a meating.

Cassie Powell 8 years ago


White, Black, Brown, Cream, Mocha, whatever color ALL colors are, BORN, grow up, go to school, get married, have kids, get jobs, grow old, & die ( not necessarily in that order)

If a "black" group is getting on your nerves start your own damn group...

alm77 8 years ago

"meating" hahahahaha!!! "meating"!!! ~ Oh!! Too funny!! James, I read your posts and I'm embarrassed for you!!

Mr. Butler is an AMAZING guy. I am so glad to see he's taking the time and energy and his talent to invest in youth. God bless you Craig!

jonas_opines 8 years ago

"Thanks for the thoughtful discussion s#$%-for-brains."

The potential for thoughtful discussion is generally precluded by the fact that we're having them with you.

georgeofwesternkansas 8 years ago

I talk to my children about these things every day. Whats wrong with their parents doning the same thing, why do they need a taxpayor funded group to do this??

Can I get taxpayor money for talking to my children??

Stuart Evans 8 years ago

I think most of you have proven that it's not ok to be white and concern yourself with those of your own race. that instantly gets you labeled a racist. however, it is perfectly ok to jump on the "help minorities" bandwagon, so that you can feel like you're doing something positive in your community. I feel that all the extra "help" that whites try to give minorities is a bit racist in itself. It's like saying, "we know that you're not good enough, strong enough, or equal enough to stand on your own. Look at all the guilt we feel for you" nice job.

jonas_opines 8 years ago

"It's like saying, “we know that you're not good enough, strong enough, or equal enough to stand on your own."

I'll just focus on this line, since it's just misguided as opposed to the rest, which is just untrue.

Or, it could be saying "we know that several centuries of slavery, then oppression then segragation have left extremely deep and enduring social and economic inequalities built into the fabric of our society, giving certain races (whites) who are of generally higher classes much more implicit opportunities to better themselves, so we're helping extend a hand in the hopes of redressing to some extent those basic inequalities.

I mean, it doesn't sound as hysterically evil that way, I know, so it probably won't satisfy you, but it Is another way to look at it than just saying it means "they must be dumb, that's why we're helping them."

Gerald Kendrick 8 years ago

I know Craig Butler, he is an educator, wonderful human being and great role model. Anything he would be teaching these young men would only make them better people and help them become decent adults. He has done the same thing in teaching majority kids.

I feel sorry for people who see life as a zero sum game, who see every attempt to uplift people who might have had a rough go of it as somehow taking from someone else.

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