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America's Problem With Black Men and Boys

Employers must see themselves as part of the educational system and hire, train, and develop men of color.

President Barack Obama recently announced his administration's response to America's engagement problem with young men of color. Partnering foundations have pledged to raise $200 million for the "My Brother's Keeper" initiative. The funds will be used over the next five years to seek and seed programs and practices that improve outcomes for boys and young men of color. I, like many advocates, welcome this commitment.

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Psst, President Obama: Youth of Color Need More Than a Father to Succeed

"My Brother's Keeper" is no substitute for jobs, housing, and access to quality education and training.


Last week President Obama unveiled an initiative called "My Brother's Keeper" to address the systematic barriers to success faced by many young men of color. Reaction to the announcement was mixed, with some commending Obama for giving young black and Latino men a helping hand, while others pointed out the flawed logic endorsed by the President that "young men of color just need to 'work hard.'"

Using the bully pulpit to rally support and foundation dollars to help boys and young men of color succeed is laudable. The problem lies in trying to pass off moral speechifying as substantive action. "My Brother's Keeper" is no substitute for jobs, housing, and access to quality education and training, and it won't have any meaningful impact on the appalling racism and conditions of life in the inner cities faced by black and Latino youth. It's like a warm blanket. It's comforting when it's cold. But it's no replacement for having heat.

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