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As part of “My Brother’s Keeper,” as the new campaign is known, the White House will bring together nonprofits, foundations and private businesses to endorse and test out programs designed to help young minority men graduate from high school, stay out of juvenile detention centers and prisons, and train for and get good jobs. ..
But what started as a second-term presidential bid to confront a vexing social crisis may be turning into a lifelong cause. Senior White House aides confirm to Yahoo News that a major focus of Obama’s post-presidency will be a broad-based, lifelong effort to lift up a demographic that feels perennially written off and left behind. Obama, who wrote a best-selling memoir probing questions of race, identity and his own fatherlessness, is plotting a return to the issues that have been central to own life and will continue to shape generations of young black men after he leaves the White House.
"I think it’s something that's deeply personal to the president and first lady,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president and the Obamas’ closest friend from Chicago. “I’m sure their commitment to this initiative will be a lifelong commitment. This is not something they simply want to do while he’s in office — it will continue.”
Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who once ran the Chicago public schools, echoed Jarrett, telling Yahoo News in an interview that he believes the Obamas will be dedicated to the issue for decades. “This is core to who they are individually and core to who they are together.
The unemployment rate last month for African-American men over the age of 20 was 12 percent, compared with 5.4 percent for white men. Hispanic men over the age of 20 faced an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent.
Obama will also order his administration to examine programs that work and to discard those that do not help improve the lives of minority men. The White House pointed to bipartisan initiatives already underway to change criminal justice practices and guidelines.
Setting aside the lunacy of divvying up mankind based on the hue of their skin, it is truly a rich irony that generous Americans must suffer through a sermon from this president on how to better be our brother’s keeper.
Most of us struggle along and help the best we can no matter how much trouble our brother or our neighbor or our friend gets into. Most Americans don’t sit around waiting for yet another goofy federal program to help our brother.
But since Mr. Obama brings it up, let’s talk about taking care of our brothers, both literal and figurative. Let’s start with literal.
George Hussein Obama is the president’s half brother who lives in a tin shack in a Nairobi, Kenya, slum, struggling with addictions to booze and drugs, according to numerous news reports. What, Barack Obama, have you done to help a brother who shares your blood?
Not a thing, according to brother George, who reportedly had to hit up anti-Obama filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza for $1,000 to cover medical expenses for his sick child. Way to be your brother’s keeper, Mr. President.
The phrase comes, of course, from Genesis, chapter 4 -- God's devastating interrogation of Cain after Cain killed Abel out of rank jealousy. God asks Cain innocently, "Where is your brother, Abel? " Cain replies, "I don't know," and asks, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Now, some of us grew up aping that catchy margarine slogan, "it's not nice to fool Mother Nature," so we can immediately recognize that it is probably not a great idea to try to deceive the Creator of heaven and earth, especially just after you did something He warned you not to do. God, of course, is not amused and curses Cain, who ends up lamenting, "My punishment is more than I can bear."
But what was Cain actually saying when he uttered those words to God? The Hebrew word used here for "keeper" means more than "protector" or "defender"; it is more akin to "overseer" or "master," as in "keeping" sheep (1 Samuel 17:20, 22); royal wardrobes (2 Kings 22:14); the king's forest (Nehemiah 2:3, 3:29); gates (1 Chronicles 9:19); vineyards (Song of Solomon 1:6); and the temple threshold (Jeremiah 52:24) [ii]. Although these jobs are foreign to most of us, we can get the sense of them by thinking "zookeeper" or "doorkeeper."
Now, if you think that treating your brother like a dumb animal, a clothes collection, a tree, a gate, a vine, or a doorway is charitable, then consider the context -- Cain was wise-assing God! Cain wasn't responsibly pondering, "Am I my brother's noble defender?" He was saying, "How the hell do I know where he is? It's not in my job description to keep track of him!" It was meant to shame God into replying, "On no, of course you aren't. I'm so sorry I asked." Simply put, Cain's rhetorical sneer is not the query of a loving, responsible brother, but the bald bluster of a brutal murderer.
Does this"program"have anything to do with Obama's message to teachers not to discipline their out of control black students statements?If so Mr.president is going to have problems.The implications from that one statement alone is chilling in a few ways.For instance if blacks feel they are ENTITLED to act out with impunity in school how do you expect them to behave afterwards??Honestly has to be the most ignorant statement made by anyone much less a US president,IMO.