Healing and educating young Black men has been a challenge in America. So many young Black men are falling by the wayside due to violence and a lack of education. Kasim Abdur Razzaq has made it his responsibility to not only educate young Black men but also to focus on their mental, social and emotional health.
As a critical and creative thinker, Razzaq believes he can connect with young men through the art of storytelling. “I grew up in a culture that transmits powerful messages, values and worldview through story,” he explains. “Therefore, I see the world and the interactions of people as [an] ongoing dialogue in a collection of stories about humanity.”
A native of St. Paul’s historic Rondo neighborhood, Razzaq has been serving the Twin Cities area for more than 15 years through his social work services and education.
Rolling out sat down with Razzaq to talk about his new book, Five Essential Principles for Healing Black Men and Raising Black Boys, and what inspires him as an educator.
As a writer and educator, from where do you draw your inspiration?
I find nothing more inspirational than supporting the betterment of the human condition. I enjoy hearing the personal stories of individuals and finding the shared meaning and experience of a people, community and society within their collective narratives.
Tell us about your latest project; what was the inspiration behind the project?
I released a book titled Five Essential Principles for Healing Black Men and Raising Black Boys. This project was inspired by all the Black men and boys I have encountered personally and professionally over the past 20 years. The other inspiration for the book was me. As an African American man from the inner city, I escaped all the pitfalls to become what most would describe as successful. Yet, achieving the “American Dream” did not afford me wellness. I needed this project to help me find the source of Black healing so that I could become the man I was intended to be.
What do you want the reader to glean from the project?
I hope readers take away that self-determination and collectivism are independent variables and that Black healing, Black wellness and Black liberation are outcomes of those variables. The state of Black mental health will continue to be a function and reflection of the health of Black family and community systems.
What was your inspiration behind your Ted Talk?
The inspiration behind my TED Talk came from my experience as a student in public schools, along with observations of oppression [experienced by] diverse students in my role as a school social worker.
How did you come by that opportunity?
I was fortunate to be a TEDx presenter. I was completing a graduate degree, and one of my professors encouraged me to submit an assignment I completed examining the challenges of our educational system.
Tell us about your brand: Abdur Razzaq Counseling & Social Architecture.
Abdur Razzaq Counseling & Social Architecture is about the business of liberating the minds and bodies of oppressed people. Our mission is to protect, promote and support. The Abdur Razzaq team is composed of diverse clinical minds that in addition to serving the community as counselors and consultants have been tasked with the responsibility of producing literature that reflects the diverse populations we serve. We recently opened a department, Abdur Razzaq Kids, led by my two oldest children, who are responsible for curating children’s books in both French and English. We will release our first book titled Black Child Run.