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More than 200 “prominent” Black men write an open letter to the President Obama and ask, “What about Black girls?”
This angers me… WHEN IS THE LAST TIME 200 BLACK MEN UNITED TO WRITE A LETTER TO ANY PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA??? And now, what prompts this extremely rare unification of an entire cross sector of inter-generational Black males? (The letter pointedly notes inclusion of filmmakers, taxi drivers, college students, high school teachers, ministers, former pro athletes, inmates, fathers, males from the straight, queer and transgender community and of course, professors.) An attack to insult and criticize none other than our very first Black President of the United States of America… On what, you ask? Of ALL things – the rolling out of the VERY FIRST INITIATIVE IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA designed to address the marginalization of specifically, you guessed it, the very group writing the letter: BLACK MEN AND BOYS!
And who was this letter initiated by: Who else but an aspiring member of Black Academia… The letter is an untimely response attacking President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which unapologetically addresses issues faced by men and boys of color in America.
My unfiltered response to this letter would be very brief, captured in a just a few letters using social media jargon. However, as a woman in the Black male development space and mother of a Black male as well as the creator of one of the largest (of several!) girls initiatives in the Eastern region, I feel the need to share my personal and professional perspective on this letter (which you can google because it’s not worth me posting!).
In short: It is a disgrace. Another public display supporting the perception that, no matter WHAT you do, “the Black community can not unite” around even the most obviously prevalent needs… “What about Black girls?” the letter pushes. Mind you not ONE girl or woman of ANY color was included in the writing of this letter! So for 200 men to make this poor case for the “inclusion of women and girls” while, themselves, taking the patriarchal and hypocritical position to exclude women and girls is extremely telling and undermines their own question… But, in the name of controversy and publicity…
The better question is to YOU 200 Black Men who signed up for this public note: What will YOU do??? Will YOU SIGN UP to mentor a fatherless girl? Will YOU SIGN UP to call for equal wages for women?? Will YOU SIGN UP to support legislation for fair treatment for pregnant mothers in the workforce??? Will you SIGN UP to write an open letter to men, encouraging responsible fatherhood? Will YOU SIGN UP to demand justice and peace for youth in cities across the nation? Will YOU SIGN UP for equitable education in public schools???? Will you SIGN UP to disrupt the Prison-industrial complex and mass incarceration of youth??? Better yet will you STAND UP – 200 Black men actually DOING something in the true spirit of UNITY??? Now THAT would be powerful!
But instead you join together and “sign” to minimize and question the power of another Black man.. While there will always be an opportunity to criticize the President (or anyone else for that matter) or My Brothers Keeper (or any other meaningful initiative) change has got to START somewhere. The fact is that our sons, boys and young men in the Black community are among the most marginalized people in this country. Many are dying and have no clue who they are or who they have the great potential to be. Our sons, my sons, need you. Our brothers need you. Our women and girls – WE need you!
Now put down the f— pen, and DO SOMETHING!
Chandra G. Pitts, President & CEO ONE VILLAGE ALLIANCE