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Black Carpenter

August 9, 2011

by Osaremen Okolo

On Friday, July 29th I had the opportunity to be a Black Carpenter. It was incredibly life-changing for me to renovate houses, sand oak wood, and repair dilapidated playgrounds—all while dressed like a ninja.

Okay, so that might be stretching the truth just a little bit. But in all honesty, I did work with the Black Carpenter team that day, volunteering at what was a two-day launch of actor Brian White’s new book, Black Carpenter.  “Okay, interesting, but an odd job…”, you may be thinking. Well not only do I love volunteering (more on that in a later post) but Brian’s coauthor is Anna Cheshire Levitan, former editor-in-chief of Boston Common magazine and the mother of one of my best friends. The team, led by Mrs. Levitan, comprised of me, my friend, her sister, and an acquaintance. We blanketed the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center with fliers attracting everyone to the Celebrity Hot-Spot booth, where Mr. White would meet, take a picture with, and personally sign a book for any willing convention-goer, all for a reasonable $20. Thanks to our enviable marketing skills, the potential readers were never quite aware whether this Black Carpenter package was free or for sale until they arrived at the booth.

Brian White grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, and though he is now based in Los Angeles, the Bay State native was in town on the United Negro College Fund’s “Empower Me” pre-tour stop at the 2011 National Urban League conference. You may remember Mr. White from the popular movie Stomp the Yard, in which he played Sylvester, leader of the Theta Nu Theta fraternity. Perhaps you recognize the name from his stints in the NFL with the New England Patriots and in the NLL with the Boston Blazers. Or you basketball fans may know him as the son of the legendary former Boston Celtic, Jo   Jo White. However, Mr. White has recently taken on a new role as author of a book that can be described as a youth empowerment guide. As the UNCF’s “Empower Me” tour targets minority college, high school, and middle school students and parents, Mr. White and Mrs. Levitan saw it as an attractive opportunity to kick-off Black Carpenter as well.

The novel endeavors to “give today’s youth the ‘tools’ they need to build a solid, lasting, and successful foundation in life, as a carpenter builds a rock solid house. Black Carpenter isn’t just a book, but the newest branch of a movement. Mr. White and Mrs. Levitan have created a multi-platform youth development program that “urges young people to ‘build their future’.” The empowerment brand has applications in the book, speaking tours, an upcoming film documentary, and other products and services. Black Carpenter’s mission is based on four carpentry tools: Hammer (Strength), Level (Balance and Equilibrium), Tape Measure (Accountability), and Locking Pliers (Perseverance). I won’t go into detail on the way each of these tools can be utilized in every area of life, but I do encourage you to pick up a copy of Black Carpenter and see for yourself. After reading, Mr. White encourages you to take up a conversation with him over Twitter to let him know your thoughts.

To find out more and buy the book

Continue the conversation with @actorbrianwhite

See what’s next by following @blackcarpenter

Like Black Carpenter on Facebook

Though I wasn’t able to continue my work as a Black Carpenter on Saturday–when Jo Jo White joined his son during the meet-and-greet–I heard enough meaningful conversations on Friday alone to know that Mr. White is the real deal. The facial expressions I saw from people leaving the booth told me that these new Black Carpenters gained valuable insight from only the one or two minutes they spent with Mr. White. I’ll have more to share with you directly from Brian White after I sit down with him in November, when he will be back in town on the Boston leg of the UNCF “Empower Me” tour. But for now, I leave you with this:

“The purpose of Black Carpenter is to create a tool box of essential life skills for the next generation. I had the great fortune of being born into a family with strong values who gave me the courage to follow my dreams and reach for the stars. My mother and father instilled in me a sense of purpose not defined by today’s street obsession with swag, cars or cribs. Black Carpenter is as much their message of hope, perseverance and achievement for young people, as it is mine.”

–Brian White

Courtesy of millennialyouth.com