You’re “not listening” to Malcolm Jenkins—but you should be.
The two-time Super Bowl champ/New Orleans Saints star is lending his acumen and passion for social justice to a thought-provoking documentary and cause. After consistently burning up headlines not only for his athleticism but for being a change agent urging people to pay attention to police brutality and racial inequality, Jenkins is partnering with Old Spice while executive producing the documentary “Black Boys.”
“Black Boys” details the full humanity of Black boys and men in America who are systemically undermined and undervalued. The doc not only follows frustrated inner-city students dealing with racial macro and microaggressions but also features insight from the likes of retired NFL star/father Greg Scruggs, Carmelo Anthony, and Vic Mensa who all still feel the effects of racial injustices despite their status.
Jenkins and “Black Boys” producers Never Whisper Justice, the creators of Frontlines of Justice personal development program, are working with Old Spice to extend Frontlines of Justice’s educational offerings to more students, and educators across the country.
With more than 80 years of “helping guys navigate the seas of manhood,” Old Spice is pledging to actively work over the next decade to not only take steps to eradicate systemic issues facing many young men, but to also build and nurture the confidence in young men in tandem.
The partnership is the first of many steps in Old Spice’s recently announced 10-year initiative with the ultimate goal of increasing U.S. high school graduation rates.
BOSSIP had a chance to chat with Malcolm about not only “Black Boys” but his unyielding passion for fighting for social justice.
See what this change-making champ said below.
It’s quite clear that you’re passionate about spreading a positive black male image across multiple platforms while other people in similar positions of power remain silent, why is this integral to you?
It’s understanding that we’re not monolithic and really being able to display the fear, the joy, the pain, the love the creativity that is oftentimes left out of the narrative when we talk about our black boys. Oftentimes we commodify the body but completely ignore the minds of black men, and the film does a great job of really putting that on display, but also showing people how, especially in the education system, as early as kindergarten, our kids are receiving messages about who they are, specifically black boys. That humanity has been under attack, starting at that early age all the way through adulthood. We not only need to draw that public awareness but question our leaders – in our educational system, our criminal justice system, our local and state officials – why our black children continue to be treated differently.
We know you well for being an NFL thought leader, with that in mind, what do you hope Americans are learning about social injustices considering the current climate?
The unrest brought on this year after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor has opened the eyes of Americans from the standpoint that people are asking for more information, asking how to change policies, asking why police and our government officials aren’t being held accountable in these types of cases. When you look at history and how people of color have been treated for decades, centuries, it actually sheds light as to why these things are still happening today, but it’s the power of the people to use their voice and their vote to make change happen.
What first drew you to “Black Boys” and what was your first thought when you heard about Old Spice’s commitment to raising graduation rates in underserved communities?
Initially, I just came on as an interviewee, but I became really intrigued by Sonia’s motivations for doing it — a white woman making a film about the spectrum of humanity of black boys. The more I spoke with her, the more interested I got in the piece, and I was able to come on as an executive producer. It’s one thing to get involved with a project like Black Boys and want to tell a compelling story about black humanity, it’s another to take that film and create action from it, which is how I approach everything I do. Working with Old Spice is a perfect collaboration for me, because my Foundation has been working hard to effect graduation rates, create scholarships for deserving youth who just don’t have the financial means to go to college. So, for Old Spice to make a major commitment to raise graduation rates in underserved communities complements the work we’ve been doing in New Orleans since I created The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation ten years ago.
What do you hope that black boys who see themselves reflected in this documentary take away from it?
We need to hear the voices of black boys and black men about their journey while illuminating their humanity. I want them to see themselves for who they really are – artists, fathers, brothers, sons, friends, community members, teachers, partners, creators. I want them to refuse to be pigeonholed to what society has deemed them so often in movies, television or day-to-day life, either as athletes or actors who are celebrated and at the same time, sometimes treated poorly by fans…or even worse for the average black boy or man, whom society looks at as a criminal or someone not worthy of being treated as an equal. I want black boys to look at themselves in a positive way, that each of them have something amazing to offer and contribute to society, and that there are like-minded people who want to support them. It’s why I strive to vocalize that I am beyond an athlete – I’m a father, brother, son, producer, entrepreneur, activist, philanthropist, suit designer and a tech investor. Our black boys should embrace the things that make them special.
What do you hope that people who are not black boys take away from this documentary?
This is a story about belonging, love, struggle, justice, and transformation. me, BLACK BOYS takes the next step, which provides an in-depth approach to issues facing black boys and young black men in America today. This is critical work and I just felt like it was a perfect fit for me as an Executive Producer, especially with the focus on social justice and social impact. We need this film at this time, and we need the change that it desires, from criminal justice reform to improved police-community relations for people of color. We are at a critical time in which people of all walks of life are demanding that America sees changes in our local and state government, and I hope this both draws empathy but also a call to action to fight for equality.
It’s also why my production company, Listen Up Media, is already working on BLACK GIRLS, as there is a huge need to take a look at the full spectrum of the black experience. As we’ve seen with Breonna Taylor among so many others, the most unprotected, disrespected and most neglected in America is the black woman. Our black girls deserve better and we must make strides to change the misperception but also change our policies and celebrate our black girls to create a better future for generations to come.
“Black Boys” is currently available for streaming on Peacock.
Executive produced by activist and two-time Super Bowl champion Malcolm Jenkins and written and directed by Sonia Lowman, BLACK BOYS is a documentary film that celebrates the full humanity of Black men and boys in America. Utilizing conversations and stories around education, criminal justice, and sports, the film reveals the emotional landscape of those experiencing racism and invites us to reimagine an America in which Black boys experience true belonging and unlimited possibilities. A film for this historic moment, in a nation, still struggling to rectify its racist legacy, BLACK BOYS serves as a rare glimpse into the emotional landscape of Black men and boys, illuminating their tenderness, vulnerability, joy, and resilience.