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President's initiative signals more work for parents, America

President Barack Obama promotes his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative last month at the White House.

Associated Press

President Barack Obama promotes his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative last month at the White House.

President Obama recently brought attention to the plight of minority youth when he put forth an initiative known as "My Brother's Keeper," to empower boys and young men of color in an effort to improve the negative statistics that abound regarding young minority boys.

Sadly, young men of color were so low on the scale of importance and politically fraught with negativity that he waited until his second term to create the rescue effort. And he couched it in less aggressive language.

For example, the president issued a "Presidential Memorandum," instead of an "Executive Order," although they are essentially the same type of executive tool.

Nevertheless, the president is free of re-election politics and he can concentrate on systemic problems that persist in American society.

According to the president's website, assessing the impact of federal policies, regulations and programs in an effort to enhance positive outcomes and eliminate or reduce negative ones is the first priority. Additionally, the initiative is designed to partner with businesses and foundations in an effort to create mentoring networks and cultivate skills that will ensure success.

The initiative is important, but how does this translate to healthy outcomes for my sons? Many of the proposals were created with not only children of color in mind, but a certain social and economic reality that is a significant part of the problem. My sons have the economic and parental support system that allows for a stronger academic foundation, but how can the effort shield my sons from the stigma and negative stereotypes associated with young men of color?

An examination of structural impediments facing young boys of color is an important goal to initiate in addition to the president bringing attention to the challenges that lie ahead.

However, America must strive to provide economic and educational opportunities free of stigma and biases. My sons deserve to live in a society where no particular group of citizens will need initiatives.

When they're old enough to understand, I will let them know they don't get to establish the rules and that they have to work to overcome the negative stereotypes. I will tell them they come from a legacy of people who have survived slavery, lynching, Jim Crow and economic assaults.

It's a testament to black people that they have overcome all of that, and I will challenge my sons to use the knowledge of the past to triumph over the stereotypes of the present.

Keith Berry is a married father of two who lives in the Westchase area.

President's initiative signals more work for parents, America 03/12/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 11:12am]
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