Black girls’ zero-sum struggle: Why we lose when black boys dominate the discourse
Two African-American girls live in the White House. But Malia and Sasha Obama’s presence there, in a traditional two-parent home, alongside their highly accomplished mother and their devoted grandmother, feeds a dangerous and false narrative about the progress of African-American girls and women. Though President Obama has been able to provide this kind of life for his daughters, he seems oblivious to all the ways in which Malia and Sasha’s educational and economic trajectory, even prior to coming to the White House, looks in no way similar to that of the masses of African-American girls.
Like many African-American men, the president has bought into the narrative about the problems of absentee black fathers and about the potential danger and destructiveness of fatherless black sons. Donning the role of father-in-chief for back people last week, the president announced his new My Brother’s Keeper initiative, designed to address and ameliorate issues of low achievement and lack of mentoring for young black and brown men.
I am ambivalent about My Brother’s Keeper. Yes, by almost every social measure, African-American men, and boys in particular, fall behind at alarming rates. They are suspended from school the most, incarcerated the most, have the highest rates of unemployment, commit disproportionate amounts of violent crime, and have some of the lowest high school and college graduation rates. Frequently their encounters with law enforcement and white male authority figures end with black men dead.
These are alarming times. Times that would make Ida B. Wells weep. Over these many months, as I have watched the failure to convict both Trayvon Martin’s and Jordan Davis’ killers, I have worried. Worried because I know that when African-American boys are being killed with impunity by white people this triggers every kind of deeply held race trauma that African-Americans have. We circle the wagons. We fight fiercely to protect our beloved boys. We demand their right to grow into men. And we should.
If a 6-Year-Old Can Help His City, Why Can’t You?
Blake Ansari is only six-years-old, but he’s already done something to make his city better.
The first-grader, who attends the Metropolitan Montessori School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side,
had been thinking this winter about other kids in his city, kids who didn’t have the kind of life he
has. Homeless kids.
Late last year, Blake started to understand that some children in New York City didn’t have a place
to live, and were sleeping with their families in shelters or on the streets. There are a lot of homeless
kids in New York these days, about 22,000 of them by most recent count, more than at any time since
the Great Depression. And the number has been going up.
Blake’s father, Nuri Ansari, works developing programs for the homeless and the formerly
incarcerated. To help Blake understand the issue better, his mother, Starita Boyce Ansari, showed
him the multipart New York Times story about a homeless girl named Dasani that came out in early
December. She says her son was immediately concerned about the well-being of kids living in
One thing about these children’s lives was especially troubling. “That means they don’t have a
library,” Blake said to his mother.
He wanted to give them one.
It was too late to make the gift for Christmas or Kwanzaa, but Starita Ansari started making some
phone calls to see if maybe something could be done in time for Valentine’s Day. She had trouble
finding a shelter that would take the donations, but with some help from the office of Manhattan
borough president Gale Brewer, the Ansaris located the PATH emergency family shelter in the
Bronx, which said it would be happy to accept.
And then Blake started gathering books. Some came from his classmates. About 200 were donated
by family friend Bob Gore. And even more were collected by the office of city councilmember Helen
Rosenthal from neighbors of Blake’s school on the Upper West Side, including the Children’s
Museum of Manhattan.
Altogether, the drive netted some 600 books, which will be given out to children who go through the
intake process at PATH and be theirs to keep. Blake and his family took the books to PATH in time
for Valentine’s Day. He was happy, but he still wants to do more, maybe to build a real library. His
mother says he put it this way: “When you listen to the community, learn from the community, and
help the community, you connect to your best self.”
Starita Ansari says she wants her son’s book drive to raise awareness of the severity of the homeless
problem in the United States, where nearly 1.2 million school-age children were homeless in 2011,
the latest year for which complete numbers are available. She also wants it to serve as a call to
action. “Homeless children are America’s black eye, and America doesn’t want to talk about it,” she
says. “If a 6-year-old can respond to the education needs of homeless children, then why can’t we as
ECONOMICS FOR LEADERS
Teaching Young Leaders
the “Economic Way of Thinking”
|Tell your students, friends, and eligible family members about our March 3rd Deadline!
Economics for Leaders (EFL) is a selective summer program that teaches high school juniors (and highly qualified sophomores) how to integrate economics with leadership development through a hands-on, experiential environment. College credit is available.
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*Tentative schedule for 2014. Check www.fte.org to confirm program sites and dates.
Develop leadership skills that will prepare students for the 21st century economy.
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Learn about the concepts affecting our global economy.
Get a head start on future economics courses, both high school and college.
Develop friendships, have fun, and become a more effective leader.
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Resilience Advocacy Project is hosting a wine & cheese friend-raiser in celebration of World Social Justice Day on Feb. 20th!
Featuring film shorts highlighting some of the social justice issues we are focusing on in 2014 including, an intimate look at teen fatherhood in NYC, An exploration of health rights and barriers to healthcare for girls in the sex trade, and An example of youth anti-poverty leadership!
When: Thursday, Feb. 20th, 6:30pm – 8pm Where: Northstar Fund 520 8th Avenue, Suite 2203, NYC (Between 36th & 37th Streets) This event is free and open to the public.
RSVP by Feb 19th to email@example.com
Today is a big day for KAVI’s Executive Director and Founder, Dr. Robert Gore. All week BET has been revealing its 2014 ICON MANN of the year and today (you guessed it) Dr. Gore’s place on this honorable list was revealed! Featuring an article and video Dr. Gore is honored on the site. But this is just a taste of what is to come as Dr. Gore, along with many other esteemed Black men including Academy Award winning actor Forest Whitaker, Dr. Gore will be in attendance at the ICON MANN OF CHANGE award ceremony in March.
On the Record With…Dr. Robert Gore
Via Amy Elisa Keith for BET.com
My story is simple. I was born to be a part of change and influence it. I didn’t always know how to do this or where I fit in this process of change but I was taught early on by my parents and grandparents that I could either “talk about it” or “do something about it.” There was no room for endless theory, debate or rhetoric unless thoughts were linked with bringing about a greater degree of understanding and action. This is my philosophy of combining activism with philanthropy.
I have been fortunate to be surrounded by people in my life that regularly inspired, questioned and helped guide me to become the man I am today. I’ve been blessed to save lives and impact communities, both locally and globally. I am proud to be an emergency medicine physician in Brooklyn. In the emergency room, we see patients with a wide range of medical problems and one of the things that really hit home to me was the issue of violence.
Being a Black man working in the ER and taking care of patients riddled with bullets, stabbed or beaten hit me at my core, especially when I know the patient from my neighborhood and when they look like me, my friends or family members. Violence is beyond a social problem, it is a public health crisis with risk factors that can be changed to prevent senseless death. My team and I have decided to do something about it, thus the birth of the Kings Against Violence Initiative (KAVI). (Read More)