Obama launches ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ initiative to help minority boys

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In the type of address many in the black community have been waiting for, President Obama on Thursday said the nation cannot and should not accept poorer schools, unsafe communities and a lack of role models for young men of color and established a new initiative to confront those problems.

As he unveiled the “My Brother’s Keeper” program — which will bring together foundations, businesses, churches, nonprofits, government agencies and other entities to help young men stay on the right path — the president brought to the forefront issues that some critics say have been on the back burner for most of his time in office.

“If you’re African-American, there’s about a one-in-two chance you grow up without a father in the house. If you’re Latino, you have about a one-in-four chance,” Mr. Obama said. “We assume this is an inevitable part of American life instead of the outrage that it is. It’s like a cultural backdrop for us in movies and television. We just assume — of course it’s going to be like that. But these statistics should break our hearts and they should compel us to act.”

Mr. Obama was joined on stage by several young black males who participate in “Becoming a Man,” a program run by a Chicago nonprofit for at-risk youth in the city’s public schools. The president met some of the teens from that group, including some who were at the White House on Thursday, during a stop in Chicago last year.

“I explained to them that when I was their age, I was a lot like them. I didn’t have a dad in the house. And I was angry about it, even though I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time,” he said. “I made choices. I got high without always thinking about the harm it could do … I could see myself in these young men.”

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