By Dr. David Caruth
For five years, Black men in America have waited for President Obama to address the unique set of challenges we face year after year. We all know the statistics: high unemployment rates, high dropout rates, and high incarceration rates. Even worse, vigilante killers who murder young Black males walk free because we receive unequal treatment under the law.
Recently, President Obama launched a new initiative, “My Brothers Keeper” in a belated attempt to show concern for the pain Black men and our families feel and experience everyday of our lives. While I applaud any effort the President of the United States takes to address our concerns, I am more impressed by leaders in the Black community who have taken matters into their own hands.
Last year, Pastor Eugene Sheppard of Living Word Church in South West Washington, DC put out a call for a Black Men Roundtable. Nearly 40 pastors, ministers, and concerned members of our community showed up. We discussed ways the Black Church could reach out to Black men in the community to repair brokenness in our families, provide guidance for our youth, and solutions for families who were negatively impacted from failed drug and welfare policies of the Clinton Administration.
In addition to pastors and ministers, Purnell Pinkney and John Kirksey, representing the American Renaissance Movement Inc. made passionate presentations concerning our need to act independently of party politics. From their perspectives, we need to avoid secular liberal policies and support leaders who share our core values.
We identified 10 areas for concern that we want addressed:
1. Absentee Fathers in the home
2. Early education and intervention for our young men
4. Adult Education and Vocational Training
5. Business and Entrepreneur training
6. Preventive negative behavior intervention
7. Transformational Change
9. Substance Abuse Counseling
10. Job Fairs with on-the-spot interview and hiring
In a recent New York Times article by Michael Shear, “Obama Starts Initiative for Young Black Men, Noting His Own Experience,” Mr. Shear made it plain that President Obama’s belated concern with the plight of young Black males appears to be window dressing to shore up his legacy on race relations in America.
“Mr. Obama’s remarks come as the end of his time in office is in sight, with the president mindful of the legacy that his administration will leave behind on race and other civil rights issues like same-sex marriage and immigration. Mr. Obama has embraced the right of gay men and lesbians to marry, and Eric H. Holder Jr., his attorney general, has aggressively sought to ensure that all eligible Americans have access to the ballot box.” Shear, February 27, 2014.
From where I stand, President Obama’s choices to lead Cabinet-level executive agencies have failed to address the concerns that we identified. In fact, former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp did more to address the needs of the Black community than any of President Obama’s choices to lead domestic policies.
Secretary Kemp made grant funds available to eliminate drug use and fight the violence that comes with it. We are still waiting for President Obama’s HUD Secretary, Shaun Donovan, to provide leadership that will positively impact the lives of young black males who find themselves surrounded by poverty, drugs, and gun toting vigilantes. While we wait, I stand with progressive Black men who are not waiting for government to provide solutions to our problems.
Black men should take every opportunity to work directly with foundations and other private entities that understand what one nation under God, means. Real Black Men need to Step up and provide the kind of leadership that is necessary to help transform our country, protect our youth, and strengthen our families.
As the President of God’s Perfect Timing Ministries, I invite you to join our efforts to eliminate poverty. Together, we can begin the healing process and live out the true meaning our creed, “one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and Justice for all.”