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Dr. Curtis Ivery offers words of wisdom to Black youth in new book

The struggles young Black men face today are profound. As chancellor of Wayne County Community College District, Dr. Curtis Ivery interacts with young people on a daily basis. And he feels he has a responsibility to Black youth.

In his new book Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In: Wisdom and Strength for Young Black Men ($19.95, Beaufort Books), Ivery shares timeless lessons, stories and advice. Addressing a wide range of topics like the importance of setting goals, working hard and controlling attitudes and tempers, he targets teens and young adults with different types of challenges.

One of Ivery’s favorite chapters, titled “You are Not Alone,” speaks to the young introvert who may be spending his Saturday nights alone at home.

“Some young people are not necessarily that outgoing and they’re not going to be surrounded every day by a lot of friends, a lot of people, and it’s OK,” Ivery says. “It’s OK to take time to be introspective and to reflect in one’s quiet moments.”

Ivery refers to himself as an old timer in the book, but he touches on topics casually and easily relates his experiences to those kids face today.

“I wanted the book to be more conversational. I never wanted it to be a lecture,” Ivery says. “I wanted it to be something that they can read when they didn’t have anyone else to talk with.”

Most lessons transcend different backgrounds, but it was important for Ivery to directly address Black youth because the odds are sometimes not in their favor.

There are more Black males imprisoned than any other racial demographic, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. The reasons are complicated.

“Our young men of color still suffer, I think disproportionately from economic and social disadvantage,” Ivery says. “Just take a look at how many young men are either not working or even in high school today, looking for jobs that they can’t get because they don’t have an education.”

Ivery hopes his legacy will be part of the solution. Much of what he includes in the book are lessons he learned from his father and, in turn, shared with his children.

“My father used to say to me all the time that I would be a composite ultimately of all of my experiences,” Ivery says. “Everything that I was doing as a young man would at some point equal the person that I would become. What you do today will be who you are tomorrow.”

The book, he says, is a labor of love. He hopes it will serve as an outline for young people in this generation and those to come.

“Many people are starting to feel that it’s a lost generation, but I don’t think we should give in to that kind of verbiage.

“Our young people are important and they mean everything to our society and our country,” Ivery says. “Perhaps the words that I share will forever be available to those who want to know and learn a little bit from someone with experience and who cares deeply about what happens to our young men.”

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