Category: African American

Why I Am So Upset Right Now!

Mike Brown Jr

What if Mike Brown was your child? How would you feel? What if your child was unarmed, murdered & left for dead in the street, uncovered, for up to 4 hours? What if you weren’t even given the name of your child’s murderer or witnessed the character assassination of your child all over the news? How would that make you feel?

Today the body of Michael Brown Jr. was laid to rest near St. Louis, Missouri. For more than 2 weeks, protestors & people around the world have shown their disgust & disagreement with how Officer Darren Wilson handled the entire situation.

This affects me personally because as an African American, I understand the systemic forces this country exercises against people of color (particularly people of my color). Time & time again we have seen young unarmed African American men get shot down by White officers, resulting in little to no justice. It hurts to think that in 2014 you can lose your life just because of the color of your skin.

But Mike Brown was a criminal – didn’t he just steal from a local convenience store? Since when does petty theft, “strong-arming” someone or even jay-walking mean your life should be taken? It doesn’t. Mike Brown was not yielding a weapon, aggravating the police or was given the opportunity to defend himself before being murdered in the middle of the street. Whether or not these young men have children out of wedlock, dropped out of school or have even committed crimes – none of that merits being gunned down in cold blood.

This is not a Black/White issue; why is everybody making this about race? Because it is. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, from 2006 – 2012 a White police officer has killed an African American at least twice a week in this country. African Americans are almost twice as likely to be killed by police as cops are likely to be murdered in the line of duty. How is that not racially profiling? Simply put, police kill African Americans more frequently than you may realize.

I watch the news. I see how much crime they commit. African Americans are more likely to get caught, arrested, and jailed for longer periods of time than their White counterparts for the same crime. The Human Rights Watch has found that people of color are not any more likely to use or sell drugs than white people, yet they have a significantly higher rate of arrests. African American citizens encompass 14% of regular drug users but are 37% of those who are arrested for drug crimes. Same crime, but a harsher punishment. How is this our fault? Not to mention that the media paints a bad picture of African Americans in general. How is that when African Americans break into stores & take things out of protest it’s called “looting”, but when the news is talking about the Iraqi’s doing the same thing (as in ISIS), it’s called “marauding”? What’s the difference? The difference is that one term is used to portray African Americans negatively. And that’s where the misperceptions begin – people watch the television & think African Americans are savages because they are speaking out. But they’re really not – they are just fed up!

Infographic 1

Let’s take a look at some of the lives of African American men we’ve lost over the past 15 years. What do all these young men have in common? They all died at the hands of White cops, unarmed:

  • Amadou Diallo – Four New York City police officers were acquitted of all charges in the death of Amadou Diallo. He was shot 41 times as he stood, unarmed, in the vestibule of his apartment building in the Bronx. (2000)


  • Patrick Dorismond was a security guard & father of two who was killed by an undercover New York Police Department officer. The undercover police officer approached Dorismond and his friend as they were standing outside of a lounge and asked him where he and his partners could purchase marijuana. Although Dorismond declared he was not a drug dealer he was shot to death. He was only 26. (2000)

Patrick D

  • Timothy Stansbury – There was no warning & the police didn’t even identify themselves. Stansbury was shot in the chest and staggered, bleeding, down five flights of stairs to the building’s lobby where he collapsed. Even the police commissioner held an immediate press conference to acknowledge that “there appears to be no justification for the shooting.” (2004)

timothy Stansbury

  • Sean Bell – Undercover cops fired at least 50 rounds of bullets into a car carrying Sean Bell and two of his friends as they left his bachelor party. The police fired 31 times, emptying two full magazines. Bell was shot in the neck, shoulder and right arm and died at the hospital. He was only 23. (2006)

Sean Bell

  • Oscar Grant –Ever hear of the movie ‘Fruitvale Station’? Grant was fatally shot in the back by a transit officer at an Oakland train station on New Year’s Day 2009. The now-former transit officer admits he mistakenly used his service revolver when he meant to grab his taser. A criminal court jury convicted the transit officer of involuntary manslaughter in 2010 but completely acquitted him of murder. He was released in 2011 – that’s right, he only served 1 year for killing an unarmed young man. Grant was only 22.

Oscar Grant

  • Kendrec McDade – A 19 years old & unarmed, he was killed in a shooting by Pasadena, CA police. A 911 caller falsely reported that two men with guns had stolen a backpack from his car. As police chased and fired several shots, some from close range. The Los Angeles County District Attorney cleared the officers of any criminal wrongdoing. (2012)


  • Ramarley Graham – 18-year-old Ramarley Graham was leaving a Bronx bodega with his friends, when he was followed by members of the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit of the NYPD. Footage from his home’s surveillance camera shows that Ramarley approached the door of his house, unlocked it and walked inside. Multiple officers swarmed the house, entering through the back without a warrant and letting others in through the front. He was followed upstairs and into his bathroom, where he was shot in the chest. No weapon was ever found. (2012)

ramarley graham

  • Jordan Davis was gunned down by citizen Michael Dunn recklessly as he shot into a car full of African American teens after complaining about the volume of their music in a convenience store parking lot. Three of his 10 shots struck Davis, killing him right away. Davis was only 17. (2012)

Jordan Davis

  • Trayvon Martin – a 17 year old Floridian was fatally shot & killed while holding a bag of skittles & wearing a hoodie. He was gunned down by a neighborhood watch volunteer, who was acquitted of all charges. (2012)

Tryvon martin

  • Jonathan Ferrel – Ferrell, was working two retail jobs and had recently moved to the Charlotte area. Mr. Ferrell was dropping off a work colleague and drove down an embankment. The car was so damaged he had to kick out the rear window to free himself. Unable to find his cellphone, he stumbled to the first house he found and knocked. Inside, a white woman home alone with her infant daughter panicked and called 911. A Black man, she said, was trying to break in. Three officers arrived & one fired a Taser, which missed its target. Then 12 shots were fired, 10 of which hit Mr. Ferrell. Autopsy results included in the lawsuit show the bullets entered his body and traveled downward, which supports that Mr. Ferrell was already on his knees or lying on the ground when he was shot. Officers then handcuffed him after he was already dead. He was only 24 years old (2013)

Jonathan Ferrell

  • Seventeen year-old Kendrick Johnson was found dead in a rolled-up gym mat in a South Georgia high school in January, 2013. The school has tried to cover up his death & the circumstances surrounding this tragedy are still unanswered.

Kendrick  Johnson

  • Eric Garner – a married father of six, was murdered after a New York City police officer put him in an illegal chokehold. He repeatedly stated that he couldn’t breathe & and the medics weren’t called for several minutes. Once they arrived, they took no action to save Garner’s life. Eric Garner was unarmed. (2014)

Eric Garner

  • Ezell Ford – a 25 year old mentally challenged man was shot and killed in Los Angeles while lying on the ground. He was unarmed. He was only blocks away from his home when officers stopped him. Police claim that it was an “investigative stop” but have not stated why Ford was being investigated. (2014)

Ezell Ford

  • Unarmed Michael Brown Jr. was killed after being shot 6 times because he was walking in the street, “blocking traffic.” Brown was a recent high school graduate and was scheduled to start classes at a Missouri trade school, just two days after he was killed. He was only 18 years old.

No parent should EVER have to bury their child. This has got to stop! If you want to be a part of the movement, contact your state Senator and tell them you want a more diverse police force & better trained officers in your area. If you’re not registered to vote, click here to register so you can vote the best officials into office. This November make sure that you vote for the people who you feel would best represent your community – NOT just you.

No one deserves to be gunned down for the color of your skin. Speak out now; Michael Brown Jr. could’ve been your child.


Independence Day For Who? Should African Americans Really Celebrate July 4th?

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice must mourn. What to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelly to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour” – Frederick Douglas

American Independence Day is approaching and everyone is getting ready for the barbecues, picnics, fireworks, etc. We’re reminded of the day in 1776 when the “Founding Fathers” decided to break away from mother England. The Revolutionary War lasted until 1781 and the Declaration of Independence was made to stand. The mission was accomplished and the United States of America was born.
However, the celebration and freedom was not for all to enjoy. Only rich white males immediately benefitted from independence. Women were still treated unequally, Native-Americans did not regain their lost land, and poor white men did not enjoy all the rights mentioned in the Declaration and accorded by the new constitution. But worst off were the African-Americans, whom the majority was still enslaved. The newly designated “land of the free” had a large portion of its population still in bondage.
Maybe they saw it coming too. Initially, the American forces did not recruit blacks fearing possible slave revolts. It wasn’t until the British started doing it, promising them freedom, that they too followed suit with similar incentives. Unfortunately for these black soldiers, they were deceived. They found out that, in fact, “not all men were created equal” and that the supposed God-given unalienable rights did not apply to them. And as a result, because they lived a life without liberty, they could not pursue happiness.
It took almost another hundred years and a Civil War before slavery was completely abolished in the country. Come to think of it, since the British abolished slavery in their colonies in the 1830s, maybe black Americans would have been “better off” if the Revolutionary War had failed. They would have been officially free sooner.
But the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t end their unequal treatment. Even the “hero” Abraham Lincoln would have allowed slavery in the South to continue if it could have saved the Union somehow. Blacks suffered from discrimination and inequality for another hundred plus years (after the end of slavery). And today, although the times have changed and we even have a black president, the effects of all these years of slavery, discrimination and mistreatment are still felt. We can see a disproportionate number of African-Americans living in poverty (higher %), in higher education (lower %), in higher-paying jobs (lower %), etc.
Therefore, after the hypocrisy and betrayal of the Founding Fathers, the years of slavery, inequality and discrimination, I wouldn’t be surprised if some African-Americans don’t make a big deal out of the 4th of July. And other Americans shouldn’t be upset and accuse them of being unpatriotic if they choose not to celebrate, because if they learn the true history of the country, they would discover that independence and freedom back then did not apply to all.
There are other countries in the Americas where a similar reasoning could apply. Many broke away from their European masters but kept the institution of slavery and other forms of inequalities in place. As a person judging from outside, I believe African-Americans should celebrate this national holiday, but with some reservation. They should always remember the true history behind it and pass it on to their children. As for those who don’t feel like they should celebrate it at all, I don’t blame them.
ind day
*Originally published on Examiner.

Remembering Meshach Taylor (1947-2014)

Actor Meshach Taylor, best known for his role as the ex-con deliveryman Anthony Bouvier in the CBS sitcom Designing Women, died Saturday at his home in Altadena. He was 67.

The cause of his death was colorectal cancer, said his wife, Bianca Ferguson Taylor.


Taylor had roles in several TV shows before appearing in what was supposed to be a single episode of Designing Women during its first season in 1986. But his comic scenes with cast members Delta Burke and Dixie Carter went so well, Taylor said in 2011 on The Wendy Williams Show, that the creators of the sitcom kept him on.

He stayed with the show for all seven of its seasons as the only male regular cast member. He was nominated in 1989 for an Emmy for supporting actor in a comedy series.

Taylor also played the flamboyant window dresser Hollywood Montrose in the 1987 hit Mannequin.


He was “an activist actor,” said his wife, who as Bianca Ferguson appeared for years as Claudia Johnston Phillips on the ABC daytime soap opera General Hospital.

On Designing Women, he “walked that tightrope of racism and classism every week, week after week,” giving them and millions of viewers a richer, deeper view of African American men. “He showed them what trust was all about, what loyalty and friendship were all about.”


“His last really strong role,” she said, was on Criminal Minds, where he “took an alcoholic veteran from the Vietnam era and made us understand he was a courageous young man who had saved lives.”

Meshach Taylor was born April 11, 1947, in Boston, and grew up in New Orleans and Indianapolis, where he performed with community theater groups.

His first major role was in a national touring company of “Hair.” In the 1970s he appeared in plays with the Goodman Theatre company in Chicago.

Taylor had roles in numerous other movies and TV shows, including Dave’s World, Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide and Dave’s World. On Broadway in 1990, he performed for six months in “Beauty and the Beast.”

In addition to Bianca, his wife of over 30 years, Taylor’s survivors include his daughters Yasmine, Tamar and Esme; his son, Tariq; a sister, Judy; and a brother, Hussein.

Terminally ill and deep in pain, he flew with his children to Indiana last week for the 100th birthday of his mother, Hertha Taylor.

When he returned to hospice care in California, his wife said: “I told him baby, you did your greatest performance at your weakest time.”

Taylor children

*Article originally published on We Love Soaps.

Remembering Bobby Womack (1944-2014)

Bobby Womack, the legendary soul singer whose career spanned seven decades, died Friday at age 70. A representative for Womack’s label XL Recordings confirmed the singer’s death to Rolling Stone, but said the cause of death was currently unknown.

Bobby Womack

Look Back at Bobby Womack’s Incredible Career in Photos

The son of two musicians, Womack began his career as a member of Curtis Womack and the Womack Brothers with his siblings Curtis, Harry, Cecil and Friendly Jr. After Sam Cooke signed the group to his SAR Records in 1960, they released a handful of gospel singles before changing their name to the Valentinos and earning success with a more secular, soul- and pop-influenced sound. In 1964, one month after the Valentinos released their hit “It’s All Over Now,” the Rolling Stones put out their version, which went to Number One on the U.K. singles charts.

womack 1

Three months after the death of Cooke in 1964, Womack married Cooke’s widow, Barbara Campbell, and the Valentinos disbanded after the collapse of SAR Records. After leaving the group, Womack became a session musician, playing guitar on several albums, including Aretha Franklin’s landmark Lady Soul, before releasing his debut album, Fly Me to the Moon, in 1968. A string of successful R&B albums would follow, including Understanding and Across 110th Street, both released in 1972, 1973’s Facts of Life and 1974’s Lookin for a Love Again.

womack married

Bobby Womack (1944-2014): Read Our Full Obituary

After the death of his brother, Harry, in 1974, Womack’s career stalled, but was revived in 1981 with the R&B hit “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.” Throughout most of the Eighties, the singer struggled with drug addiction, eventually checking himself into a rehabilitation center for treatment. A series of health problems would follow, including diabetes, pneumonia, colon cancer and the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, though it was unclear if any of these ailments contributed to his death. Womack was declared cancer-free in 2012.

In 2012, Womack began a career renaissance with the release of The Bravest Man in the Universe, his first album in more than 10 years. Produced by Damon Albarn and XL’s Richard Russell, the album made Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2012 alongside numerous other critical accolades. “You know more at 65 than you did at 25. I understand the songs much better now,” Womack told Rolling Stone at the time. “It’s not about 14 Rolls Royces and two Bentleys. Even if this album never sells a nickel, I know I put my best foot forward.” Upon his death, Womack was in the process of recording his next album for XL, tentatively titled The Best Is Yet to Come and reportedly featuring contributions by Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart and Snoop Dogg.

womack album

Hear Bobby Womack’s 10 Essential Tracks

Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. “My very first thought was — I wish I could call Sam Cooke and share this moment with him,” Womack said. “This is just about as exciting to me as being able to see Barack Obama become the first black President of the United States of America! It proves that, if you’re blessed to be able to wait on what’s important to you, a lot of things will change in life.”

hall of fame

*Article originally published on Rolling Stone.

African Americans Reconnect With Nature With Outdoor Afro!

A couple of weeks ago I was watching News One Now on TV One and happened to catch a guest by the name of Rue Mapp. Ms. Mapp is the founder of Outdoor Afro an organization dedicated to introducing more African Americans to the adventures of the outdoors. As an African American young woman, I recognize that most of us don’t spend a lot of time communing with nature. Regardless of how one feels about braving the elements or finding the right outdoor equipment & supplies, becoming one with nature has its benefits.


Outdoor Afro is a social community that reconnects African-Americans with natural spaces and one another through recreational activities such as camping, hiking, biking, birding, fishing, gardening, skiing — and more!

Outdoor Afro disrupts the false perception that black people do not have a relationship with nature, and works to shift the visual representation of who can connect with the outdoors.

We remember our history in nature, leverage social media, and support relevant local leadership to create interest communities, events, and partnerships that support diverse participation in the Great Outdoors.

During her childhood, founder Rue Mapp split her time between urban Oakland, California and her families’ working ranch in the Northern woodlands, where she cultivated a passion for natural spaces, farming, and learned how to hunt and fish. As a youth, her participation in the Girl Scouts and Outward Bound broadened her outdoor experiences, such as camping, mountaineering, rock climbing, and road bicycling. But Rue was troubled by the consistently low numbers of African Americans participating in these activities. So for two decades, Rue has used digital media as an important and practical tool to connect with people of color who share her outdoor interests. Outdoor Afro emerged naturally from these experiences.

Rue has a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was inspired by her study of the artistic representation of the American forests. She is also a successful entrepreneur whose game and hobby store start-up (It’s Your Move) remains an important part of the Oakland community. In 2010, Rue was honored to be invited to the White House to participate in the America’s Great Outdoors Conference where President Obama signed an historic memorandum to help reconnect all Americans to the Great Outdoors, and was invited back to take part in a think-tank to inform the launch of the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative. She was also appointed program officer at the Stewardship Council’s Foundation for Youth Investment where she served for two years to manage its grantmaking program.

Recently, Rue was named a Hero in Backpacker Magazine, honored as part of the Root 100 of the top black achievers and influencers for 2012, and received the Josephine and Frank Dunaneck award for her humanitarian efforts. Rue is a proud mother of three active children – Seth, Arwen, and Billy, lives in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area, and especially enjoys hiking, camping, biking, birding, and kayaking.

Some of their key sponsors include:


Here is a round-up of resources (in no order of importance) to help connect Outdoor Afros with the outdoors and related topics:





Hunting and Fishing


Clubs and Associations




Farming and Foodways

For more information visit their website:

Kimye + Vogue = Really?

I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it seems that Kanye West & Kim Kardashian made the cover of next month’s Vogue magazine. If this is true, how in the world did this happen? Wasn’t Vogue supposed to be the premiere international fashion magazine?

According to their company overview Vogue strives to be “thought-provoking, relevant and always influential, Vogue defines the culture of fashion.” But how is allowing Kim Kardashian on the cover ‘defining the culture of fashion’? Nothing that she has said, done or worn has been influential to the typical Vogue reader. Their readership is one of class, style and elegance not trendy, trashy or “common”. Kim’s clothing as of late has been quite underwhelming, as I’m sure most fashionista’s would agree.  I mean her clothing line is in Sears, for pete’s sake! How Vogue worthy is that?

Let’s look at Kim’s accomplishments, shall we? She made a sex tape, dated professional athletes back-to-back with no real job or income, never attended college, has been divorced from two different men all by the age of 30 and  had a baby out of wedlock. How is this Vogue-cover material? Why has she been selected to be on the same magazine as our First Lady Michelle Obama, Academy Award© winner Sandra Bullock, international fashion icon Victoria Beckham and multi-platinum 17-time Grammy winner Beyonce? She doesn’t compare to anyone on that list whatsoever.

April is Autism awareness month. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to let someone like Holly Robinson Peete or Oscar winner Kate Winslet grace the cover instead? Both of them have made great strides in the autistic community & are also known for their stylish dress. Really, anyone else but Kim would’ve made a better cover choice!

So how did Kim get the cover of Vogue? Most people seem to attribute it to her boyfriend, 21-time Grammy award winner Kanye West. He was seen cajoling the Editor-in-Chief, Anne Wintour, for the coveted spot almost a year ago at which time she was less than enthused about putting about Kim Kardashian on the cover of her magazine. According to close sources, it’s pretty well-known that Anna Wintour is NO fan of Kim or any reality star appearing in the pages of the magazine. But she claims that simply isn’t the case. West has said publicly many times that he thinks his girlfriend belongs on the cover of Vogue. He’s even gone so far as saying “No one is looking at what Obama is wearing.”  “Kim is like the most intriguing woman right now. … and collectively, we’re the most influential in clothing.” Why would he say something that crazy?! Not only did he disrespect our First Lady, but he made it sound as if Kim Kardashian has an intimate knowledge of fashion, textiles or even class for that matter!  I guess some women really can sleep their way to the top.

Let’s take a look at some of the reactions from some (now former) Vogue readers:

I cancelled my subscription!” – Michelle A. Morgan

RIP Vogue” – Chris Black

I am loving the big backlash aimed at Anna Wintour for putting Kim Kardashian on the Vogue cover. The issue should come with a barf bag.” – Nikki Finke

Hope the happy couple coughed up a lot of dough to Vogue for the “honor” ’cause I suspect Vogue sales will be at an all-time low very soon, to match their all-time low cover choice.” – nonparieldolls

 “Isn’t it funny how Kanye ended up with the exact same kind of woman he sings about in his song Goldigger? Ironic. These two are hideous!” – Pbj

 “I’m really torn. Am I supposed to admire a woman that is only famous for a sex tape, had a marriage last just over 70 days, got pregnant from another guy before her marriage was dissolved, slept with half the NFL and got engaged to a guy who’s inflated ego could block enough sun to reverse global warming? Or should I applaud Vogue for reminding us that no amount of money will ever buy class?” – Smedley N

“Dear #Vogue there is a difference between controversial and classless. Learn it!” –The Fashion Law

So readers now it’s your turn, let Vogue know what you really think. Use the Twitter hashtag  #WorldsMostTalkedAboutCouple with your comments. You know I already have!


Here is their other contact info –

Mail: Customer Service, c/o Conde Nast, 4 Times Square, New York, NY 10036
Customer Service:

I Am My Brother’s Keeper

“I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds to stay on track and reach their full potential.”  – President Barack Obama, January 28, 2014

Last year, President Obama held a press conference shortly after George Zimmerman was found innocent of second-degree murder & manslaughter of unarmed African American teenage Trayvon Martin. In his speech, he mentioned that the ongoing racial injustice in this country has prompted him to foster an initiative that will create opportunities for boys and young men of color throughout his term & once it’s over.

Well now, President Obama is taking action to launch My Brother’s Keeper – a new initiative to help every boy and young man of color who is willing to do the hard work to get ahead. For decades, opportunity has lagged behind for boys and young men of color.  But across the country, communities are adopting approaches to help put these boys and young men on the path to success. The President wants to build on that work. We can learn from communities that are partnering with local businesses and foundations to connect these boys and young men to mentoring, support networks, and skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way up into the middle class. And the Administration will do its part by helping to identify and promote programs that work.

That starts by using proven tools that expand opportunity at key moments in the lives of these young people.  The President believes this includes ensuring access to basic health, nutrition, and to high-quality early education to get these kids reading and ready for school at the youngest age.  But that’s not enough.  We need to partner with communities and police to reduce violence and make our classrooms and streets safer.  And we need to help these young men stay in school and find a good job– so they have the opportunity to reach their full potential, contribute to their communities and build decent lives for themselves and their families.

New Presidential Task Force to Expand Opportunity. President Obama will sign a Presidential Memorandum establishing the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, an interagency effort, chaired by Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, that will help us determine what public and private efforts are working and how to expand upon them, how the Federal Government’s own policies and programs can better support these efforts, and how to better involve State and local officials, the private sector, and the philanthropic community in these efforts.

The Task Force will work across executive departments and agencies to:

  • Assess the impact of Federal policies, regulations, and programs of general applicability on boys and young men of color, so as to develop proposals that will enhance positive outcomes and eliminate or reduce negative ones.
  • Recommend, where appropriate, incentives for the broad adoption by national, State, and local public and private decision makers of effective and innovative strategies and practices for providing opportunities to and improving outcomes for boys and young men of color.
  • Create an Administration-wide “What Works” online portal to disseminate successful programs and practices that improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.
  • Develop a comprehensive public website, to be maintained by the Department of Education, that will assess, on an ongoing basis, critical indicators of life outcomes for boys and young men of color in absolute and relative terms.
  • Work with external stakeholders to highlight the opportunities, challenges, and efforts affecting boys and young men of color.
  • Recommend to the President means of ensuring sustained efforts within the Federal Government and continued partnership with the private sector and philanthropic community as set forth in the Presidential Memorandum.

Investments from Leading Foundations and Businesses to Advance the Achievement of Boys and Young Men of Color.  Leading foundations and businesses have long worked with others in philanthropy to create opportunities for young men and boys of color and today are committing significant resources to research critical intervention points in the lives of boys and young men of color; change the often-damaging narrative about them; and catalyze coordinated investments to seed, replicate, and scale up effective community solutions.

The foundations supporting today’s call to action have already made extensive investments, including  $150 million in current spending that they have already approved or awarded. Building on that, today these foundations are announcing that over the next five years they seek to invest at least $200 million, alongside additional investments from their peers in philanthropy and the business community, to find and rapidly spread solutions that have the highest potential for impact in key areas, including: early child development and school readiness, parenting and parent engagement, 3rd grade literacy, educational opportunity and school discipline reform, interactions with the criminal justice system ladders to jobs and economic opportunity and healthy families and communities.

The foundations will work over the next 90 days to design a strategy and infrastructure for coordination of these investments, which can be aligned with additional commitments from a diverse array of actors from other sectors.

These foundations, who are joining President Obama at today’s announcement, include The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The California Endowment, The Ford Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Open Society Foundations, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and The Kapor Center for Social Impact. Many of the foundations are members of the Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color – a coalition of philanthropic institutions committed to leveraging philanthropy’s role in improving life outcomes for boys and men of color.

In addition to the leadership from the philanthropic community, the My Brother’s Keeper initiative will leverage participation from the business community and elected officials to support this cross-sector effort.  As part of today’s announcement, President Obama will meet with a number of business leaders – including Joe Echevarria of Deloitte, Magic Johnson of Magic Johnson Enterprises, Glenn Hutchins of Silver Lake Partners, Adam Silver of the National Basketball Association and Thomas Tull of Legendary Entertainment – to discuss ways in which they and their companies can work with the Initiative to improve the life outcomes of boys and young men of color.

The President will also be joined today by public sector leaders including General Colin Powell, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Honorable Michael Bloomberg.  Additionally, several other prominent members of the business community—including Rosalind Brewer of Sam’s Club, Ken Chenault of American Express, and Don Thompson of McDonald’s—have already expressed their support for this effort, and the White House expects additional commitments in the coming days and months.

*  *  *

Data shows that boys and young men of color, regardless of socio-economic background, are disproportionately at risk throughout the journey from their youngest years to college and career.  For instance, large disparities remain in reading proficiency, with 86 percent of black boys and 82 percent of Hispanic boys reading below proficiency levels by the fourth grade – compared to 58 percent of white boys reading below proficiency levels.  Additionally, the disproportionate number of black and Hispanic young men who are unemployed or involved in the criminal justice system alone is a perilous drag on state budgets, and undermines family and community stability.  These young men are more than six times as likely to be victims of murder than their white peers and account for almost half of the country’s murder victims each year.

The effort launched today is focused on unlocking the full potential of boys and young men of color – something that will not only benefit them, but all Americans.  The Task Force and new private sector partnership will take a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to building ladders of opportunity.  Both the Task Force and the partnership will take action immediately while planning for long-term success.

brothers keeper

Visit The White House for more information for this very important initiative.