Obama on Thursday will announce a new White House initiative called "My Brother's Keeper," which will bring foundations and companies together to test a range of strategies across the country to support young male minorities, taking steps to keep them in school and out of the criminal justice system, a White House official said. He will also announce that his administration will launch a more vigorous evaluation of what policies work best and publicize results to school systems and others across the country.Okay, all of that sounds pretty great! I mean, as great as I'm ever going to think a social justice initiative that invites the participation of corporations is ever going to sound!
...Administration officials say that the White House has been searching for better ways to address the plight of young men from disadvantaged groups since at least last summer. While the White House will release more details about the initiative on Thursday, an official said Tuesday that "My Brother's Keeper" would consist of two main parts.
First, the official said, businesses and foundations will join together to test strategies across the country. The efforts, he said, will focus "on key moments in the lives of these young men where interventions have been shown to have the greatest impact — things like making sure children arrive at school ready to learn and reducing negative interactions with the criminal justice system."
Second, Obama will also launch an internal administration effort to more rigorously evaluate what programs work at helping these young men.
For instance, the Departments of Education and Justice recently updated guidelines provided to school districts on the most effective disciplinary policies — what the official called "a powerful example of the kinds of actions the federal government can take to bolster outcomes and reduce disparities for this population."
(Aside from the name, which is a Biblical reference that may feel alienating to some young men of color whose beliefs don't include an appreciation of Genesis. The marginalized among the already-marginalized. But I digress.)
So I'm wondering why it is that the anonymous administration official tasked with feeding this story to the Washington Post felt obliged to do this shit:
The effort will seek "to make sure that every young man of color who is willing to work hard and lift himself up has an opportunity to get ahead and reach his full potential," the White House official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement. "The initiative will be focused on implementing strategies that are proven to get results."Like, was it really necessary to lend credibility to racist narratives about young men of color and their supposedly terrible work ethic? Was the literal bootstraps allusion strictly required? "Don't worry! We're only going to invest in the ones who are WILLING TO WORK HARD and LIFT THEMSELVES UP BY THEIR BOOTSTRAPS!" Was it possible to get through a single article about an initiative for one of the country's most underserved populations without reassuring racists that it won't "cost more money," or could we maybe indulge the radical idea that vulnerable young men of color are worth uplifting, even if it costs a few bucks?
...The official said the new measures will not cost more money and said they will include Republicans working on criminal justice reform, faith leaders and corporate leaders.
Well, now that we've made sure the delicate egos of "Republicans working on criminal justice reform, faith leaders, and corporate leaders" haven't been bruised by too much caring about young men of color, let's get this initiative to value young men of color rolling!
Anyway. I'm picking at the language of promotion because I want this initiative to be successful. And because I don't think that white racists and their lazy strawman fantasies need to be indulged at the expense of young men of color.