- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 13, 2014


The White House had big plans Thursday, having scheduled as it did, for Barack Obama to unveil his My Brother’s Keeper initiative.

That was the plan.

Mother Nature had one, too, and after whipping up her skirts in every town east of the mighty Mississippi, even the president had to bow to a force greater than the Great and Powerful Obama.

The timing gives the president and his team a little bit more time to ponder the initiative, which Mr. Obama alluded to in his State of the Union address.

Big Brother shouldn’t be our brothers’ keeper.

Like many things Obama, My Brother’s Keeper is an ambitious proposal, and it is skin-color-centric.

The broad, overarching goal of the unprecedented initiative includes reviewing current federal programs that were designed to address young men’s challenges and also discarding programs that don’t work and re-tweaking those that do work.

This will all be done “within existing federal resources,” an unnamed official told USA Today.

The goal, the official said, is “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.”

Bless the president’s heart for considering paying more than lip service to America’s youth. Too often, through no fault of their own, the short lots land in their laps.

Poverty. Hunger. High unemployment. Low academic expectations. Jail and prison time. Broken homes.

There are too many parents who push their kids toward the door labeled “adults” just because they know their kids can tie their own shoes, know how to fry an egg without smoking up the kitchen or figure out (albeit, the hard way) not to put bleach in a load of colored laundry.

We set our kids up for failure by weaning them on “drug-free zone” signs. And we design school policies that kick them to the curb because they aren’t dressed properly (no pro-gun T-shirts allowed).

There also are other all-too-common sights in urban schoolhouses, like the security guards, metal detectors and scanners that “greet” kids each day, instead of grownup faces that say, “Good morning” with a smile.

The list of obstacles goes on — and they all are anticipated to be among the challenges that are part and parcel of My Brother’s Keeper.

Thing is, children of color aren’t the only youths drawing those short lots.

White kids face those exact same challenges, too.

But the president doesn’t see their plight?

Is it OK that the president is depending on whites — and their money and other resources, including compassion — to help solve colored folks’ problems?

Our society is not colorblind, and it may never be.

But we can blindfold Big Brother right now, before well-meaning celebs such as actor Jesse Williams and other supporters of the president’s boys-to-men initiative to gather front and center in the White House for a grand announcement.

Legal and cultural retribution could be waiting in the wings on this one.

My Brother’s Keeper can too easily be construed to mean people of color need white folks’ hand-me-downs.

Sure, I know, that’s not the intention.

Indeed, an upside could prove to be the president’s intent to discard federal programs that do not work, which is worthy of a chorus of hallelujahs.

But to suggest that black and brown kids can’t help themselves sounds like that paved road to Hell.

Enough said?

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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