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This post originally appeared on Arit Essien's blog The Project C

On Thursday, February 27, I proudly stood with those who came to the White House to celebrate President Barack Obama’s official announcement of “My Brother’s Keeper.”

A lot of people had waited for this announcement for a very long time.  I met people who had come from long distances to be there.  Almost every member of theCongressional Black Caucus was there.  Trayvon Martin’s parents and Jordan Davis’ parents were there.  General Colin Powell, Rev. Al Sharpton—even Bill O’Reilly—came.  I saw preachers, businesspersons, heads of non-profit groups, and mayors of cities.  All appeared to have one thing in mind:  how to help young men of color face the many challenges on life.

President Obama is obviously one who keeps his promises. We heard him mention the issue in his 2014 State of the Union remarks, and here we are one month later doing just what he said he would do. He put people together from all walks of life to show young men of color that their country cares, values and is willing to invest in them.

Sometimes we listen to speeches, see nothing happen, and we move on to another issue—but this President did not give us time to move on to something else.  He went out to find leaders from all walks of life willing to commit to helping to resolve the challenges often faced by young men of color.

The need for this initiative is clear.  We’ve seen that boys and young men of color are disproportionately at risk throughout their lives.  Their challenges include disparities in reading, jobs, and far greater involvement in the criminal justice system. They are more likely to be victims of homicide than all other young men.  I am proud of the President for taking up this challenge of highlighting ways to inspire and save these young men by showing them that there are many people who care about them.

While I thank the President for this great effort with young men of color, I would like to see the same attention given to young women of color.  Rather than become discouraged that young women often live without hope, face denigration daily, and often have no one to serve as a role model for them, I call upon my sisters to step up our game, and reach out to more of our young sisters whose lives “ain’t been no bowl of cherries”.

Even in the face of “gangsta” rapping denigration, domestic violence that crushes our self-esteem, disrespect on the job and marginalization in the church, Black women have always been the keepers of our families and communities.  Too many of our brothers accuse us of taking away their manhood because we dare to stand up and do what we have to do to be  “Our Sister’s Keeper”, knowing that our sisters are so often the keepers of our entire community—whether we get the support  or respect we need or not.

When we speak of being “Our Sister’s Keeper”, we include the whole family.  So, we salute the President for this initiative with full faith that helping our young brothers will ultimately give women a break and make our jobs of building and maintaining functional families easier.

Maybe now is time for sisters to spend more time, not only on our young brothers, but also on mentoring our young sisters who also need help with their challenges in life.  Yes, we are “Proud to be Our Brother’s and our Sister’s Keeper”.  Acceptance of that responsibility encompasses our entire community.  No, “We ain’t no ways tired” when it comes to caring for our brothers and our sisters, but it sure is good to have some help!  Thank you, Mr. President.

To Learn More about My Brothers Keeper Click here:

(Dr. Williams is Chair of the National Congress of Black Women www.nationalcongressbw.org)


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