On Thursday, President Obama announced the My Brothers Keeper program, an initiative that inspires young Black men to make healthy decisions for future success. As the nation’s first African American president, one of his responsibilities is to propel people of color to heightened levels of socioeconomic success. People of color face institutional racism, discrimination, and prejudice that have manifested through the centuries. From slavery to Jim Crow, political, economic, and social barriers served to impede upwards mobility; the effects of which are felt today.
Some argue that President Obama has not done enough for the Black community. Black Americans came out in unrivaled numbers to get him elected, and some feel the hope he inspired has not been felt. Perhaps he had too much on his plate; running a country as dynamic and diverse as the United States is no easy feat. With the health care overhaul, economic uncertainty, and contentious global affairs constantly knocking at his front door, President Obama had to prioritize his agenda to benefit the nation as a whole.
And let’s not forget that he is serving with the most divisive legislative branch in history. Having to negotiate with the Tea Party, and hold together a weakened Democratic party, President Obama had to tread carefully with almost all of his political issues.
But now that he no longer faces the onus of reelection, he is finally able to tackle pressing social concerns, the plight of Black men being one of them. The five year initiative comes with a $200 million price tag, and will primarily focus on keeping Black men in their homes with their children. In a very personal speech, President Obama said that this idea for this program came after the Trayvon Martin scandal.
The program will involve a coalescence of business leaders, politicians, community activists, and religious figures. He will also create a task force to help with problem solving. Already, the nongovernmental community is hopeful and committed to seeing various programs come to fruition. Gail C. Christopher of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has already committed $750,000.
The initiative comes at the heels of increased support for young men of color. Last month, President Obama spoke to a group of at-risk young boys in Chicago.
My Brother’s Keeper is already attracting minor controversy, but the initiative is definitely a step in the right direction. And as his presidency draws to a close, I suspect that he’ll be very involved in ensuring this initiative is a sturdy element in his legacy.