Check your stereotypes at the door. An initiative under Verizon Innovative Learning is challenging you to see what young men of color are truly capable of becoming — innovators, creators, and makers. With less than 4% of engineers being African-American, Verizon wanted to be part of the solution and is exposing hundreds of young middle school males of color to life-changing tech courses, hands-on technology training, and mentorship at Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country through the initiative.
Inspired by the students participating in the initiative and societal tensions, Verizon unveiled a provocative PSA, “You Don’t Know Me” that dispels negative stereotypes plaguing young men of color and illustrates their potential of becoming the next generation of STEM innovators.
The video begins with an image of a young male in a black hoodie walking down the street who says to the camera “You Don’t Know Me.” It goes on to display various scenarios, challenging viewers to ignore racial stereotypes and recognize the extraordinary potential that young men of color possess.
“My sons walk around with hoodies and walk around just like typical young men, but yet they are what you’d consider to be STEM kids,” Verizon’s Director of Education Programs Justina Nixon-Saintil said. “My oldest son wants to be a biotechnology engineer and my other son just did a whole week of 3-D design. Trayvon Martin inspired us because we wanted to know what we could do for these young men. People do see them with a hoodie or playing around outside but don’t know that there’s a lot of potential in these young men if you just give them the opportunity to be anything they want to be.”
Verizon Innovative Learning is working to increase tech proficiency by bringing hands-on learning opportunities to kids in underserved schools and communities. Verizon is inspiring tomorrow’s creators to use technology to build brighter futures for themselves, their families, and the world.
To learn more about Verizon Innovative Learning and #YouDontKnowMe, visit www.verizon.com/inspires and follow the conversation through #YouDontKnowMe.
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