Latino Men and Boys Also Targeted In President's Initiative

Image: Barack Obama, Valerie Jarret, Colin Powell
Jacquelyn Martin / AP

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Young Latino boys have a one in four chance of growing up without a father. Eighty-two percent of Hispanic boys read below proficiency levels by the fourth grade. Hispanics were almost twice as likely to be suspended as white students in 2009-10.

By almost every measure, the group facing the most severe challenges in the 21st century in the U.S. are boys and young men of color, President Barack Obama said Thursday as he announced the launch of his "My Brother's Keeper" initiative targeting black and brown men and boys.

True, many Latinos and black men and boys have succeeded, he said. But, "the life chances of the average black or brown child in this country lags behind in almost every measure and is worse for boys and young men."

“We’ve become numb to these statistics. We are not surprised by them we take them as the norm. We assume this is an inevitable part of American life instead of the outrage that it is,” Obama said.

The president’s initiative will attempt to use the president’s bully pulpit and his administration’s infrastructure to tackle the pressing racial disparities that he said drag down the U.S. economy.

“We’re going to do this by focusing on very concrete areas where we know we can make progress,” said White House adviser Cecilia Muñoz said Wednesday.

Those areas include early childhood development, early literacy, school discipline and criminal justice reform and increasing employment opportunity, she said.

Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, said the initiative resonates with Hispanic evangelicals because it is consistent with the gospel, he said. “We are indeed our brother’s keeper and we can do more.”