Earlier this week, President Obama announced an initiative called My Brother’s Keeper. According to a White House website, the initiative is designed remedy a problem that has plagued America for decades – underperforming young men of color. Although the media has generally focused on young black males as the problem, the White House suggests that Hispanics (but not Asians) should be included in the mix:
- “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 as their white peers and account for almost half of the country’s murder victims each year.”
I am troubled by this initiative because America needs to get out of the business of treating people differently because of different skin color. Such varying treatment will invariably do more harm than good.
Furthermore, the White House might summarily declare that black and Hispanic boys are failing “regardless of socio-economic background,” it conspicuously fails to provide any evidence to support this highly questionable statement. Unless there is compelling evidence that there is a race-based problem in the black and Hispanic communities, I believe America will be better served by treating this as a socio-economic issue that can be addressed in a colorblind fashion.