Daily VideoFebruary 28, 2014
White House-backed initiative aims to improve chances for young men of color
In an effort to address the challenges young men of color face as they go to school and enter the workforce, leaders from different sectors of American life convened at the White House to help launch an initiative called “My Brother’s Keeper.”
Chicago high school senior Christian Champagne attended the White House event as a member of BAM, the Becoming a Man program. He says BAM is needed “because it helps young black men to become great and get goals in life.”
During the ceremony, President Barack Obama described a conversation with Christian and the other BAM members, “I explained to them that, when I was their age, I was a lot like them. I didn’t have a dad in a house. I made bad choices. I got high, without always thinking about the harm that it could do. I didn’t always take school as seriously as I should have. I made excuses.”
“Sometimes, I sold myself short. And I remember, when I was saying this — Christian, you may remember this — after I was finished, the guy sitting next to me said, ‘Are you talking about you?’”
The University of Chicago’s Crime Lab found that a year in the BAM program increases graduation rates by 10-23 percent, and has cut violent crime arrests by 44 percent.
As part of the new initiative, the Obama administration will evaluate existing government programs that work on this issue, but much of the effort will be focused on community efforts like BAM.
Warm up questions
- What are some of the challenges faced by students?
- What races and ethnicities are included when we say “people of color”?
- What are some of the particular challenges faced by young male students of color?
- Do you believe that U.S. society is racist? How do stereotypes play a role in racism?
- Young men of color make up around a quarter of teenagers, but represent nearly half of all teenagers in the prison system. How could this happen? What can be done to change these statistics?
- President Obama famously compared himself to Trayvon Martin saying that it could have been him. What role might this case have played in alerting the public to stereotypes about young black men?
- How do organizations like B.A.M. help young men of color achieve their full potential?
- How can the president help to support young men of color?
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