President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Program has to Focus on Family Values
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
“If we help these young men become better husbands and fathers they will not only become better citizens but pass this on to their children,” said President Obama during his speech yesterday about the newly enacted My Brother’s Keeper program. This program will concentrate on young men of color, an extremely disenfranchised group in the United States. Black and Hispanic men’s likelihood to commit crime, drop out of school, and abandon their families is largely attributed to growing up in fatherless homes as well as other oppressive factors.
In President Obama’s speech he referenced his own life growing up. He spoke about being angry and abusing drugs to numb some of the pain he felt from not having his father present in his life. Watching the president, an African American man, a member of this same group represent young men of color, really drives this message home. It now creates an empathy factor among the non-black community that was obviously missing. What President Obama’s status also represents is the possibility that with governmental intervention and parental responsibility, the majority of young men of color can have bright futures in a society that has clearly oppressed them.
In the documentary ON MY OWN, a young man, who is a member of the Ocean Baptist Church Youth Fellowship talked emotionally about his deep thought about what his life could have been if his father was around. This displays that the My Brother’s Keeper program must continue to promote fatherhood aggressively. Young men of color futures depend on it. This program should focus as much on family values as it will on education and jobs. The program should also focus on educating young men of color on the history of the Black Family in the United States. It will give them a better understanding of how many of their forefathers were negatively socialized in regards to their position in the nuclear family in the western world. Maybe they’ll understand and abandon some of the anger they feel everyday wondering why in their community having a father is a rare experience.
The My Brother’s Keeper program should use the 200 million funding on more of a grassroots level. This effort needs a street level approach to reach young men that are not in the educational system. There are many young men that have already fallen through the cracks and can’t be enumerated. President Obama also rightfully stated, “that government cannot play the only role or even the primary role.” The community must also step in and uplift these at risk youths. This program is another great step in the movement to repair the family structure.