President Obama knows the challenges facing black boys and is pro-active in helping them succeed. In an unprecedented move that no other U.S. President has undertaken, Obama is laying the framework for programs and monies that will help deter black youth from entering prisons around the country, which are waiting and depending on their arrival to provided continued free labor within an economic system that locks people away, often with the gift of life sentences.
Obama strives to turn life around for many youth with the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, which will utilize pledges and produce $200 million by foundations, philanthropists and business owners to help make a difference in the lives of many. Obama is counting on the backing to create opportunities for young black males.
Life offers little hope for those without a strong foundation that includes education, a sense of community and opportunities for advancement. Taking notice of situations found in urban settings that include, poor housing choices, high unemployment rates, few skills and training programs, along with growing attitudes of apathy. Obama is working to turn things around.
This afternoon Obama, staff members, and youth of color called upon businesses to help in the efforts for positive change. Ford and the Robert Woods Foundation are two entities being asked to include programs through investments to help decrease the staggering drop out rate and keep youth in educational programs and out of the penal system. Doing so improves the odds of attending and completing higher education. Today’s gathering is one example of President Obama’s pro-active stance in helping black boys succeed.
A government-wide task force will be charged to evaluate approaches that work and linked with an on-line portal called, “What Works” that allows community agencies, and businesses access to what is working and what needs improvement need to happen withing specific programs.
The idea that black boys can succeed and helping them to do so is something President and First Lady Obama are committed to for the rest of their lives says White House advisor, Valerie Jarrett.
Joining the president today is Maurice “Moe” Owen, aid to President Obama’s Chief of Staff. Owens holds the position due to deliberate steps. A product of the Bronx he has made it to the White House due in large part to a hard working, dedicated single mother who has encouraged her son to stay on point and focused. Her efforts paid off for them both, Owens received a scholarship to attend a high school, that prepared him for college and the and the air force. With those successes he now works two doors down from the President. Without direction Moe understands that he would have likely become a fatality in the land of lost black males, swallowed up in his neighborhood landing in prison or graveyards.
The president rejects commentary from black leaders who have forgotten, that they too, reached success with the help of others. Already this year, Obama has undertaken the commute of non-violent offenders. Frequently prison sentences are handed out by judges in disproportion to crimes. This has a powerful impact in increasing the already disproportionate and unbalanced numbers of black males on lock down around the country. The practice also aids in continuing a cycle where men are not able to provide for families causing family members to fend for themselves and contributing to a vicious cycle of poverty and despair. President Obama is putting out a pro-active call to action in helping black boys succeed. This in turn, makes for a better society. One which engages community in helping to solve problems and encourage youth to hope and dream. They stand a much better chance of setting and reaching goals when support systems are in place.
By C. Imani Williams