Our Why

Dehumanizing narratives about Black boys, men, and families have been spread for centuries in the United States and used to justify slavery, lynching, police violence, mass incarceration, and systemic divestment from Black neighborhoods. These racist myths shape the minds and behaviors of the public and the policies of lawmakers.

“Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question…How does it feel to be a problem?”

W.E.B. DuBois, 1903

“I’m tired of answering the question, “Is Baltimore really like The Wire?” Answer: “Yeah it’s a complete shit-hole war zone depending on what street you turn down. I’m tired of looking at 11-year olds as potential thieves, muggers and murderers on my walk home from the office…
I’m tired of being looked at like prey.”

Co-Founder and Previous Chief Visionary Officer of a Creative Agency in Baltimore, MD, 2014

Etched in our psyche and constitution, the dehumanization of Black Americans is foundational to present race-based social and structural inequities including racism, discrimination, economic inequality, residential segregation, systemic divestment from Black neigbhorhoods, poverty, underfunded schools, unequal job and opportunity structures, hyperpolicing, mass incarceration, inequitable access to and quality of health care and mental health services, and providers who are racially diverse, culturally competent, and contextual-informed, and a host of factors public health scholars call the social determinants of health. These vestiges of slavery are the legacy of white supremacy that structure economic opportunity, health, and well-being for Black Americans. Together, these institutional forces also increase the propensity for interpersonal violence.

Homicide is the leading cause of death for Black youth ages 10-24 and for Black males ages 1-44. This disparity has only been widened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Compounding this pain is the disproportionate number of young Black men killed by police–the 6th leading cause of death for this group. These invisible wounds and unaddressed pain can disrupt the lives of Black boys and men at pivotal developmental moments that alter their trajectories. Born out of a decade of Dr. Jocelyn R. Smith Lee’s research examining the marginalized trauma and grief of young Black men in East Baltimore, In All Ways Human is doing the work of addressing the root cause of dehumanization. We seek to transform the ways in which Black boys, men, and families are seen, see one another, and see themselves. Just as dehumanization was foundational to creating and perpetuating the health disparity of homicide, we believe affirming the humanity of Black Americans is fundamental to healing, transformation, and economic mobility for Black Boys, men, and families.

We are beginning this storytelling and narrative change campaign in Baltimore because this is where residential segregation was legally invented in the U.S. and because this is where the stories of young Black men impacted by violence shaped the formation of Dr. Jocelyn R. Smith Lee’s research lab, Centering Black Voices (CBV). Centering Black Voices is a community-engaged program of research committed to affirming the humanity of Black boys, men, and families through trauma-informed praxis that prevents violence, promotes healing, and advances racial equity. In All Ways Human advances this mission and is made possible by a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Voices for Economic Opportunity Grand Challenge Award and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Production Fund.

We Seek to grow this Movement

To bring In All Ways Human to your city or to fund this work, reach out to us using the contact form on this page.