200 Black Men Pen Open Letter Criticizing Pres. Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative For ‘Victim Blaming’
Reported by Kacie Whaley
President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative (MBK) is being put on the spot by some more members of the black community. Earlier this May, many organizations that focus on assisting black youth revealed to the public that the requirements for receiving a portion of MBK’s $150 million in funds exclude many smaller, lesser-known organizations. This time, the spotlight is being shown on MBK’s failure to include women and girls in the initiative.
Approximately 200 black men, including actor Danny Glover, organized to devise a letter to the President urging for him to not only rethink neglecting the needs of black women and girls, but also address the fact that the adversity that African Americans face is largely based on systemic barriers that exist, rather than simply not trying hard enough.
Keise Laymon, Vassar College professor and an organizer of the group, explained the diversity of the men involved in addressing the President. “The men who came together to lift up this issue are organizers, professors, recently incarcerated, filmmakers, taxi drivers, college students, high school teachers, ministers, former pro-athletes, fathers of sons, and fathers of daughters. These men, identifying as straight, queer and transgender, all share a commitment to the expansion of My Brother’s Keeper and all other national youth interventions to include an explicit focus on the structural conditions that negatively impact all youth of color.”
The letter sincerely and plainly requests recognition of its concerns from President Obama, such as in this passage:
“We are not suggesting a national moratorium on Black male-oriented projects. But our sense of accountability does reflect the fact that our historic struggle for racial justice has always included men as well as women who have risked everything not just for themselves or for their own gender but for the prospects of the entire community. Moreover, we are concerned that your admonishment to Black and Latino men to be more responsible and to stop making excuses frames problems of educational attainment, unemployment, and incarceration consistent with those who say Blacks suffer from a ‘culture of pathology.’ We believe in a vision of accountability and racial justice that is neither male-centered, heteropatriarchal, or victim blaming.”
What are your thoughts about the letter?
Read the letter in its entirety here: http://aapf.org/2014/05/an-open-letter-to-president-obama/
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