Prominent black men ask Obama: What about black women and girls?

(Washington Post) A group of prominent black men — 210 so far — have written an open letter to President Obama, asking that he consider the plight of young women of color in tandem with his administration’s focus on young men of color. Signed by scholars, ministers and activists, the letter comes as the White House announced this week that former basketball star and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson will co-chair “My Brother’s Keeper,” a $200 million public- and private-sector effort that will direct resources to black and Hispanic boys.

The signers of the letter, among them actor Danny Glover and civil rights activist James M. Lawson and leading academics, write to Obama that they were “were surprised and disappointed that your commitments express empathy to only half of our community — men and boys of color.”

We write as African American men who have supported your presidency, stood behind you when the inevitable racist challenges to your authority have emerged, and have understood that our hopes would be tempered by the political realities that you would encounter. While we continue to support your presidency, we write both out of a sense of mutual respect and personal responsibility to address what we believe to be the unfortunate missteps in the My Brothers Keeper initiative (MBK). In short, in lifting up only the challenges that face males of color, MBK — in the absence of any comparable initiative for females — forces us to ask where the complex lives of Black women and Black girls fit into the White House’s vision of racial justice?

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