In my opinion, the president’s initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper”- an attempt to effectively target and positively influence the lives of young black men, may be too little too late. This initiative should have been a priority five years ago, immediately after the president was inaugurated into office. If not then, it definitely should’ve been implemented when blacks and some of their “leaders” were beseeching him to do something significant for his most faithful demographic.
Remember his response? Obama said that he’s not just the president of black America; he’s the President of all America. The president made this statement having already signed and touted the Lily Ledbetter Act (pandering to women), the DREAM-Act executive order that granted a reprieve from deportation of illegals immigrants (pandering to Hispanics); repealing the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy regarding gays in the military and “evolving” and promoting same-sex marriage, and verbally signaling that his administration would no longer defend DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act – a congressionally-passed law, in court (which panders to gays).
In other words, the president told blacks to beat it. The president essentially told blacks that there wasn’t enough political capital to be gained by doing something for them. In the president’s mind, there were more important things to do than to worry about black socio-economic pathologies- no matter how damaging they were/are to blacks and the country.
At that time the national unemployment rate was 8.1% (88,897,000 not in the labor force) but the black unemployment rate was 13.9% (11,588,000 not in the labor force) and for black teens it was 38.3%.*
Funny the difference presidential unpopularity polls make.
So in his endeavor to influence these polls and ward off the quack of “lame duck” status, the president turns his short attention span to the most loyal of political pawns- black America.
Many blacks agree with Raymond Winbush, director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University, when he said, “It’s better late than never. We’ve been patient with President Obama.”
I’m sorry, but this initiative is a momentary nod- a fist-bump- to black Americans, as if to say, “Here you go… I didn’t forget about you. Don’t say I never did anything for you. Now run along and continue to support me- from over there.”
And sadly, blacks will be filled with pride from this better-late-than-never gesture because the black President has finally looked their way- regardless of how shallow, insincere and fleeting this public relations pandering is.**
Watch Don Lemon.
Don’t get me wrong; something qualitative needs to be done to address the moral, social and economic calamities plaguing black communities across the country. And the name of this initiative works.
Indeed we are our brother’s keeper, but not necessarily through the vehicle of government.
But the content and conversation surrounding the initiative that doesn’t.
I think the noble-sounding intentions of this program are obvious- they have to be for President Obama to significantly influence and increase his likeability among Americans. Again, no matter how the BS is spun coming from the WH pressroom, the president pays attention to poll numbers.
But what will the results be? That’s what ultimately defines and gives integrity to intentions- the results they produce. And if history is our guide regarding government programs, the results will be terrible.
Doesn’t matter though; this program will be forgotten by next week. Why? Because the conversation that needs to be had, won’t.
The president talking about the ills of marijuana is good start- as are imploring people to recognize that the negative statistics coming from black communities represent real people; so was the president identifying with the young men present as also coming from a single-parent home. But in reality, Obama’s personal experience was FAR removed from the inner cities, and for good reason. But these gestures only go so far.
The real conversation is discussing why these pathologies are plaguing black communities in the first place. It’s a very painful conversation, saturated with tough love and accepting personal responsibility. Nevertheless, blacks desperately need to have and hear this conversation, though very few people are willing to engage it.
The president is right when he says that the reality of life for young black men is an outrage, and that taking the necessary steps in redeeming that life is a moral issue.
But what needs to be said is that- it’s a moral issue that black children be born within the consecrated bounds of marriage. As it stands now, black women- who are at most 6% of the population, represent 30% of all abortions performed. It’s shockingly worse in places like New York and Mississippi. Of the children lucky enough to be carried to term, 73% of them are born illegitimately. Of that 73%, almost forty percent will live in poverty.
The stigma and shame associated with having illegitimate children needs to be resurrected. Now- like yesterday, now.
It’s a moral issue that blacks create and provide nurturing environments for themselves and their children. As it stands now blacks create and perpetuate some of the most violent homes and communities in the country, which encourages and breeds violence, resulting in innocent children being killed in the midst of such violence. In addition, the black-on-black crime that this violence represents is a self-evident existential and national embarrassment.
It’s a moral issue that children be allowed an opportunity to receive access to quality education. As it stands now, not only do blacks lack the familial foundation, which contributes to the academic stagnation seen from first through twelfth grades, but black parents also support the very political party- funded by teacher’s unions- that assiduously delivers the substandard education that nourishes bad habits and poor character to black children. Yes- the Democrat party stands as a proud and defiant obstacle between poor parents and quality education reform.
As a friend recently observed, blacks seem like a suicidal people in many ways. Not only will they not raise a voice or lift a finger to change their self-immolating ways but they will verbally- and sometimes physically- attack and fight anyone who does.
Woefully, this seems to be nothing short of the truth.
There truly is NO dysfunction- both external in social, moral and economic pathologies, and internally for the virtually debilitating nature of rejecting change- like that which continues to contaminate black America. It’s sad, pathetic and angering. Nothing short of a religious/spiritual awakening can redeem this situation.
The president has promised that his newly created task force will report back to him when assessing “the impact of Federal [state and local] policies, regulations and programs…” to see what works, what doesn’t and what can be created and developed to have positive impacts on black youth.
Please understand, this will be a colossal waste of time. Since Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” programs, blacks have been inundated with federally-funded social programs, provisions, set asides and the like which have essentially abetted the very same problems the government claimed to have wanted to fix. Fifty years of ineffective government programs offering assistance which has robbed blacks of their self-dignity, the nobility of work and self-sufficiency- and suddenly this initiative will be the one that will open the eyes of the socio-political do-gooders, making them realize that… they’re part of the problem?
I doubt it. So does the reader.
Blacks need help, period. No one denies this, but another government program? We’ve used crutches for so long that our legs have atrophied. We remember standing and walking, but we don’t remember how it feels. We need to accept and do our part in self-rehabilitation. We need to return to prayer so that God will “break the bars of our yoke that we may walk with our heads held high” (Lev. 26:13b). It will be a difficult process; it will take some time and yes, it will hurt. But unless we can first prove to ourselves, and then to others, that we possess the internal fortitude and disposition to embrace inevitable pain and overcome it, we can forget about crutches, or a wheelchair.
We’ll need a cemetery.
Again, this initiative sounds good, but it simply amounts to more window dressing. Until the country- beginning with blacks- is prepared to seriously and sincerely address the destructive issues encompassing black Americans- in other words, culture change- we will see more of the same half-hearted initiatives and government handouts that we’ve seen for the last fifty years. The symptoms are reflective of the illness, so let’s cure the illness and the symptoms disappear.
* Keep in mind- these numbers were probably doctored, according to the story found in the NY post -and never recanted- to reflect a better economic picture to aide the president’s re-election effort.
** I think it was a distraction and in poor taste to have the parents of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis at the president’s speech. Though this initiative has a determined racial focus, obviously, the presence and distraction of these parents- particularly the Martins considering how President Obama manipulated that situation by twice injecting himself into it, excessively politicized and racialized the event in a manner in which it wasn’t needed.