03 Apr Transforming Outcomes for Young Men of Color – A Benefit to All
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last month, I participated in a meeting at the White House at which time we discussed President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper. As an African-American male with a strong family background and someone educated in public K-12 schools and public universities, some would say that “you made it” and others, no matter their family and life situation, should be able to do the same. I wish this were the case, but with friends and relatives who have not had the same opportunities for various reasons, I was pleased to learn more about this initiative. The program, which has long been needed, is a partnership between government, foundations, and businesses with a deep interest in reversing a long time deleterious trend by utilizing a multi-disciplinary approach to build ladders of opportunity and unlock the full potential of boys and young men of color to lead to their success academically and socially.
I also believe that for My Brother’s Keeper to be successful community partners, including schools, churches, businesses, and social organizations will have to coalesce to build programs that are evidence-based and have the potential for strong outcomes of moving young men of color toward success. We must focus on removing the disproportionate high risk of these boys and young men entering the criminal justice system and reading below unacceptable proficiency, and most of all being victims of violent crimes, most notably murder.
Although the data reinforces that many young men of color face a future that pales in comparison to their white counterparts, I firmly believe that programs such as My Brother’s Keeper can significantly alter this trend. However, it will take tremendous focus and hard work from parents, relatives, schools, churches, community organizations, businesses, and government to alter this trend. In the end, our nation benefits when investments of positive reinforcement, mentoring, targeted academic support, and a caring environment are provided for these young men.
As a black male, I have experienced misconceptions by others as a boy and a man as one who should be happy settling for mediocrity instead of someone one who strives to excel academically, professionally, and socially. As a father of two boys, ages 14 and 9, I see them subjected to the same experience in different facets of their lives. Without a strong family structure, positive reinforcement, and instilling in them that they can excel and accomplish their goals and objectives, they would be more likely to settle for C’s in school, engage in violence, and believe that they are incapable of achieving excellence.
I applaud President Obama for proposing another tool to help communities address the cradle-to-grave and school-to-prison pipelines that tragically impact a disproportionate share of young men in minority communities. My Brother’s Keeper will help to empower young men of color, who have a responsibility to make smart decisions, work hard to excel academically, and avoid temptations to reach and exceed their potential.
I look forward to engaging with my clients, church, fraternity, and other community partners to improve the outlook for young men of color.