March 1, 2014
President Obama’s Brother Crisis
By earl ofari hutchinson
President Obama made it perfectly clear why he got more than a little emotional when he announced his My Brother's Keeper initiative. He was one of those brothers who but for his initiative, luck, and a good support system could have easily slid into the spiral of poverty, drugs, violence, and possibly jail or an early grave.
President Obama made it perfectly clear why he got more than a little emotional when he announced his My Brother's Keeper initiative. He was one of those brothers who but for his initiative, luck, and a good support system could have easily slid into the spiral of poverty, drugs, violence, and possibly jail or an early grave. That spiral has trapped slammed countless other poor minority and especially black males. Obama challenged government, corporations and foundations to kick in millions in funds and resources to deal with the minority male crisis. While he also challenged minority males to take responsibility for their lives, he recognized that no matter how motivated an at risk male is that won't demolish the rock like institutional and societal barriers that confront black males. The biggest of all is the staggering jobless rate among young black males, and much more.
They are not just jobless; they are also in mortal danger of becoming job untouchables. Their Great Depression unemployment rate did not budge even during the Clinton-era economic boom in the 1990s, the unemployment rate for young black males was double, and in some parts of the country triple, that of white males. Discrimination, racial profiling, failing public schools, and broken homes are the easy answers to try and explain the high unemployment numbers.
But that's not the total answer. During the past decade, the relentless cutbacks in state and federal job training and skills programs, the brutal competition for low and semi-skilled service and retail jobs from immigrants, and the refusal of many employers to hire those with criminal records have sledgehammered black communities. In the late 1990s, long before the big run up in black unemployment, the California Assembly Commission on the Status of the African-American Males reported that four out of ten felons entering California prisons are young black males. That number is repeated in other states. Despite the slight tick up in the number of black two-parent households, less than half of lower income black males under age twenty-one still live in two parent households.
The explosion of gangsta rap and the spate of Hollywood violence themed ghetto films have convinced even more Americans that the thug lifestyle is the black lifestyle. It makes little difference whether a young black is a Rhodes Scholar, National Science medal winner or junior achievement candidate, he could easily be tagged as a gangster. The gunning down of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis were blatant examples of how stereotypes and negative typecasting of young black males can have deadly consequences.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is a nationally acclaimed author and political analyst. He has authored ten books; his articles are published in newspapers and magazines nationally in the United States. Three of his books have been published in other languages. He is also a social and political analyst and he appears on such TV programs as CNN, MSBC, NPR, The O'Reilly Show, American Urban Radio Network, and local Los Angeles television and radio stations as well. He is an associate editor at New America Media and a regular contributor to Black News.com, Alternet.com, BlackAmericaWeb.Com and the Huffington Post. He does a weekly commentary on KJLH Radio in Los Angeles.