“Anything that makes life harder for women makes life harder for families and makes life harder for children,” President Obama told an approving crowd last month, at a White House summit meeting on working families.
But this seemingly obvious point is not reflected anywhere in the president’s signature initiative on race — My Brother’s Keeper, a five-year, $200 million program that will give mentorships, summer jobs and other support to boys and young men of color, most of them African-American or Hispanic, and that entirely omits the challenges facing their mothers and sisters. At a meeting in Washington last week to announce new commitments to the program from corporations, school systems and nonprofits, Mr. Obama gave a perfunctory shout-out to “all the heroic single moms out there,” but did not utter the word “girls”even once.
Mr. Obama has told us why men of color are his focus. His moving story of the Kenyan father he knew for a month and the Kansan mother who went on to raise a president speaks volumes about his passion. But My Brother’s Keeper highlights one of the most significant contradictions of his efforts to remain a friend to women while navigating the tricky terrain of race. It also amounts to an abandonment of women of color, who have been among his most loyal supporters.