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08 January, 2017

FAREWELL TO THE CHIEF! THE LEGACY OF 2009 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATE AND THE UNITED STATES' 44TH COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF THE HONORABLE BARACK H. OBAMA

Photograph of United States President The Honorable Barack H.  Obama waving as he boards Ai
r Force One extracted from the White House website (www.whitehhouse.gov).


          For the past eight years, the United States of America has been blessed to have one of the Universe’s most brilliant, compassionate, gifted, and dynamic souls  -- The Honorable Barack H. Obama – masterfully hold the reins of power.  In November 2008, the world erupted in joyful celebration upon learning that Americans had elected The Honorable Barack H. Obama as its 44th Commander-in-Chief of the United States. During the months preceding President Obama’s occupancy of the White House, the United States was on the verge of falling off an economic cliff and dragging the rest of the world with it.    With a steady hand, infinite wisdom, and the patience of Job, President Obama steered our nation away from imminent financial disaster.   On 9 March 2009, President Obama walked into the East Room of the White House which was crowded with spectators and removed restrictions on the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research by signing an Executive Order.  He also issued a Presidential Memorandum which directed  the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology to “develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making”.


          In recognition of President Obama’s “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” and his “promotion of nuclear nonproliferation and a new climate in international relations, particularly in reaching out to the Muslim world”, on 5 October 2009, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that he was being awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.  After five American Presidents failed to create universal health insurance, under President Obama’s administration, the Affordable Care Act was signed in 2010 – legislation which has provided at least 32 million Americans with health care insurance which they did not have access to. In 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to stimulate economic growth in the midst of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Weeks after the institution of the stimulus, massive unemployment claims began to subside, and 12 months later, the private sector began producing more jobs – a trend that continued for the next 23 months. Wall Street Reform legislation was passed on President Obama’s watch which tightened capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions and limited their ability to use their customers’ money to trade on the stock market for their own profit.  The ailing auto industry was revitalized by President Obama with an infusion of US$62 billion in federal money which resulted in the auto industry gaining market share and adding 100,000 jobs.  With President Obama at the helm, the United States’ image abroad improved exponentially.  The Pew Global Attitudes Project reported that 10 out of 15 nations viewed the United States favorably.   On 14 July 2015, while visiting the City of Philadelphia where he spoke at the NAACP’s national convention, President Obama issued a national mandate for sweeping criminal justice reform.  President Obama became the first sitting President to visit a federal penitentiary on 16 July 2015 when he walked into the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma where he met with a number of prisoners.  In November 2015, President Obama flew to Paris where he joined leaders from 150 nations at the LeBourge Conference Center to launch a historic two-week conference for the purposes of creating a treaty to dramatically reduce the emissions of greenhouse gas pollution which has been singled out as the culprit for global warming.  The treaty which became known as the “Paris Agreement” was ratified by 115 nations and was subsequently “entered into force” on 4 November 2016.   And on 2 December 2016, the United States Department of Labor issued its monthly Jobs Report for November 2016 which reflected the fact that the national unemployment rate dropped to 4.6%.



              There is no doubt that saving the United States from economic disaster, instituting national health care, spearheading the creation and ratification of the Paris Agreement, issuing a sweeping national mandate for criminal justice reform, and lifting the ban on stem cell research will find their way into the legacy of The Honorable Barack H. Obama’s Presidency.  But there are additional moving parts to President Obama’s legacy.  Fatherhood Practitioners and Father’s Rights Advocates in the United States have yearned for a President who would move Fatherhood to the center of the national radar screen.  At the same time communities throughout America which are raising and educating Boys and Young Men of Color  also yearned for a President who would move the key challenges that these souls faced to the center of the national radar screen.  President Obama did not disappoint. 

           

            On Friday, 19 June 2009, two days before Father’s Day, President Obama launched a National Conversation on the Importance of Fatherhood and Personal Responsibility by facilitating events across Washington, D.C. and in the White House which cast the spotlight on how Fathers are strengthening families, communities, and themselves. A Father’s Day Proclamation was issued by President Obama which honored the work of strong and committed Fathers.  A number of Washington, D.C. non-profit organizations that mentor and support young men were treated to a visit from President Obama and a group of Fathers and mentors.  After spending time at various non-profit organizations, the President and his entourage of Fathers, mentors, Fatherhood Practitioners and Father’s Rights Advocates returned to the White House to conduct a Town Hall on Fatherhood in the East Room:   President Obama launched the Town Hall on Fatherhood by delivering the following remarks:



"We all know the difference that responsible, committed fathers like these guys can make in the life of a child. Fathers are our first teachers and coaches. They’re our mentors and role models. They set examples of success and push us to succeed ourselves – encouraging us when we’re struggling; loving us even when we disappoint them; standing by us when no one else will," President Obama said during the town hall meeting.



"And when fathers are absent – when they abandon their responsibility to their kids – we know the damage that does to our families. Children who grow up without a father are more likely to drop out of school and wind up in prison. They’re  more likely to have substance abuse problems, run away from home, and become teenage parents themselves."



And I say this as someone who grew up without a father in my own life. I had a heroic mom and wonderful grandparents who helped raise me and my sister, and it's because of them that I'm able to stand here today. But despite all their extraordinary love and attention, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel my father's absence. That's something that leaves a hole in a child’s heart that a government can't fill.



Our government can build the best schools with the best teachers on Earth, but we still need fathers to ensure that the kids are coming home and doing their homework, and having a book in their hands instead of the TV remote every once in a while. Government can put more cops on the streets, but only fathers can make sure that those kids aren’t on the streets in the first place. Government can create good jobs, but we need fathers to train for these jobs and hold down these jobs and provide for their families.


If we want our children to succeed in life, we need fathers to step up. We need fathers to understand that their work doesn’t end with conception -- that what truly makes a man a father is the ability to raise a child and invest in that child.

We need fathers to be involved in their kids’ lives not just when it’s easy -- not just during the afternoons in the park or at the zoo, when it’s all fun and games -- but when it’s hard, when young people are struggling, and there aren’t any quick fixes or easy answers, and that's when young people need compassion and patience, as well as a little bit of tough love.


Now, this is a challenge even in good times. And it can be especially tough during times like these, when parents have a lot on their minds -- they're worrying about keeping their jobs, or keeping their homes or their health care, paying their bills, trying to give their children the same opportunities that they had. And so it's understandable that parents get concerned, some fathers who feel they can't support their families get distracted. And even those who are more fortunate may be physically present, but emotionally absent .I know that some of the young men who are here today might have their own concerns one day about being a dad. Some of you might be worried that if you didn’t have a father, then you don't know how to be one when your turn comes. Some of you might even use that as an excuse, and say, ‘Well, if my dad wasn’t around, why should I be?’


Let’s be clear: Just because your own father wasn’t there for you, that’s not an excuse for you to be absent also -- it’s all the more reason for you to be present. There’s no rule that says that you have to repeat your father’s mistakes. Just the opposite -- you have an obligation to break the cycle and to learn from those mistakes, and to rise up where your own fathers fell short and to do better than they did with your own children.



That’s what I’ve tried to do in my life. When my daughters were born, I made a pledge to them, and to myself, that I would do everything I could to give them some things I didn’t have. And I decided that if I could be one thing in life, it would  be to be a good father .I haven’t always known exactly how to do that. I’ve made my share of mistakes.   I've had to ask a lot of questions. But I've also learned from men that I admire. And one good example is Michelle’s father, Frasier Robinson, who was a shining example of loving, responsible fatherhood. Here is a man who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was 30 years old, but he still got up every day, went to a blue-collar job. By the time I knew him he was using two crutches to get around, but he always was able to get to every dance recital, every ballgame of Michelle's brother. He was there constantly, and helped to shape extraordinary success for his children.



And that’s the standard that I strive for, though I don’t always meet it. And as I’ve said before, I've made mistakes as a parent, and I'm sure I will make plenty more. There have been days when the demands of work have taken me from my duties as a father and I’ve missed some moments in my daughters’ lives that I’ll never get back. So I’ve been far from perfect.



But in the end, it’s not about being perfect. It’s not always about succeeding; but it’s about always trying. And that's something everybody can do. It’s about showing up and sticking with it; and going back at it when you mess up; and letting your kids know -- not just with words, but with deeds -- that you love them and that they're always your first priority.



And we need dads -- but also men who aren’t dads -- to make this kind of commitment, not just in their own homes to their own families, but to the many young people out there who aren’t lucky enough to have responsible adults in their lives. We need committed, compassionate men to serve as mentors and tutors, and big brothers and foster parents.



Even if it’s just for a couple hours a week of shooting hoops, or helping with homework, or just talking about what’s going on in that young person's life. Even the smallest moments can end up having an enormous impact, a lasting impact on a child’s life.



So I am grateful to many of the organizations that are here, that are working on these issues. Some are faith-based; some are not. Some are government funded; some are privately funded. But all of you have those same commitments to making sure that we are lifting up the importance of fatherhood in our communities.



This is not the end, this is the beginning, of what I hope is going to be a national dialogue. And we're going to have regional town hall meetings

President Obama also announced the next steps for his Fatherhood Agenda.  The President’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative was launched which is targeting Fatherlessness in America by creating partnerships with Fatherhood groups, role models, and organizations that provide services to families such as the National Parents and Teachers Association and Council of Christian Colleges and Universities.  The President also provided funding through the Department of Labor for transitional jobs programs for Non-Custodial parents who experience difficulty in finding employment.   And the Regional Fatherhood Town Hall meetings President mentioned during his speech in the White House’s East Room on Friday, 19 June 2009 were conducted in Chicago, Illinois on 5 August 2009; Manchester, New Hampshire on 23 September 2009; Atlanta, Georgia on 15 December 2009; and Toledo, Ohio on 2 December 2011.

            In 2014, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum which established the My Brother’s Keeper (“MBK”) Task Force – a coordinated Federal effort to address some of the key challenges that prevent Boys and Young Men of Color from reaching their full potential.  The move also silenced the rising sentiment emanating from the President’s detractors that his administration had failed to do anything to help America’s Black community. 



Christian Champagne, 18, of Chicago, Illinois  (left) introduces  United States President, The Honorable Barack H. Oba (right) at a White House event on 27 February 2014 where the President introduced the nation to the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative (Photograph extracted from the white house website – www.whitehouse.gov).


             On 27 February 2014, Christian Champagne, an 18 year old native of Chicago, Illinois stared into a sea of bright lights of television news cameras and the camera lens of photojournalists from around the nation as he stood in front of the podium in the East Room of the White House and rendered a flawless introduction of the President of the United States,   On the heels of Christian Champagne’s introduction, President Obama delivered remarks which heralded the launch of the My Brother’s Keepers Initiative.  Let’s listen to the President’s speech . . .



“Welcome to the White House. And thank you, Christian, for that outstanding introduction. . . . Like your parents and your teachers, I could not be prouder of you.  I could not be prouder of the other young men who are here today.  But just so we’re clear -- you're only excused for one day of school.  And I'm assuming you’ve got your assignments with you so that you can catch up -- perhaps even on the flight back.



As Christian mentioned, I first met Christian about a year ago. I visited the Hyde Park Academy in Chicago, which is only about a mile from my house. And Christian was part of this program called ‘Becoming A Man’. It's a program that Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced to me. And it helps young men who show a lot of potential but may have gotten in some trouble to stay on the right path. They get help with schoolwork, but they also learn life skills like how to be a responsible citizen, and how to deal with life’s challenges, and how to manage frustrations in a constructive way, and how to set goals for themselves. And it works. One study found that, among young men who participate in the BAM program, arrests for violent crimes dropped 44 percent, and they were more likely to graduate from high school. 



So as Christian mentioned, during my visit, they’re in a circle and I sat down in the circle, and we went around, led by their counselor, and guys talked about their lives, talked about their stories. They talked about what they were struggling with, and how they were trying to do the right thing, and how sometimes they didn’t always do the right thing. And when it was my turn, I explained to them that when I was their age I was a lot like them. I didn’t have a dad in the house. And I was angry about it, even though I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time.  I made bad choices. I got high without always thinking about the harm that it could do. I didn’t always take school as seriously as I should have. I made excuses. Sometimes I sold myself short.



 And I remember when I was saying this -- Christian, you may remember this -- after I was finished, the guy sitting next to me said, ‘Are you talking about you?’ I said, ‘Yes.’  And the point was I could see myself in these young men. And the only difference is that I grew up in an environment that was a little bit more forgiving, so when I made a mistake the consequences were not as severe.  I had people who encouraged me -- not just my mom and grandparents, but wonderful teachers and community leaders -- and they’d push me to work hard and study hard, and make the most of myself.  And if I didn’t listen they said it again. And if I didn’t listen they said it a third time. And they would give me second chances, and third chances. They never gave up on me, and so I didn’t give up on myself.



I told these young men my story then, and I repeat it now because I firmly believe that every child deserves the same chances that I had. And that’s why we’re here today -- to do what we can, in this year of action, to give more young Americans the support they need to make good choices, and to be resilient, and to overcome obstacles, and achieve their dreams.



This is an issue of national importance -- it's as important as any issue that I work on. It's an issue that goes to the very heart of why I ran for President -- because if America stands for anything, it stands for the idea of opportunity for everybody; the notion that no matter who you are, or where you came from, or the circumstances into which you are born, if you work hard, if you take responsibility, then you can make it in this country. That's the core idea.



And that’s the idea behind everything that I’ll do this year, and for the rest of my Presidency. Because at a time when the economy is growing, we’ve got to make sure that every American shares in that growth, not just a few.  And that means guaranteeing every child in America has access to a world-class education.  It means creating more jobs and empowering more workers with the skills they need to do those jobs.  It means making sure that hard work pays off with wages you can live on and savings you can retire on and health care that you can count on.  It means building more ladders of opportunity into the middle class for anybody who’s willing to work hard to climb them.


Those are national issues. They have an impact on everybody. And the problem of stagnant wages and economic insecurity and stalled mobility are issues that affect all demographic groups all across the country. My administration’s policies -- from early childhood education to job training, to minimum wages -- are designed to give a hand up to everybody, every child, every American willing to work hard and take responsibility for their own success. That's the larger agenda.


But the plain fact is there are some Americans who, in the aggregate, are consistently doing worse in our society -- groups that have had the odds stacked against them in unique ways that require unique solutions; groups who’ve seen fewer opportunities that have spanned generations. And by almost every measure, the group that is facing some of the most severe challenges in the 21st century in this country are boys and young men of color. 


Now, to say this is not to deny the enormous strides we’ve made in closing the opportunity gaps that marred our history for so long.  My presence is a testimony to that progress.  Across this country, in government, in business, in our military, in communities in every state we see extraordinary examples of African American and Latino men who are standing tall and leading, and building businesses, and making our country stronger. Some of those role models who have defied the odds are with us here today -- the Magic Johnsons or the Colin Powells who are doing extraordinary things -- the Anthony Foxxes.



Anthony, yesterday he and I were talking about how both of us never knew our dads, and shared that sense of both how hard that had been but also how that had driven us to succeed in many ways.  So there are examples of extraordinary achievement. We all know that.  We don't need to stereotype and pretend that there’s only dysfunction out there. But 50 years after Dr. King talked about his dream for America’s children, the stubborn fact is that the life chances of the average black or brown child in this country lags behind by almost every measure, and is worse for boys and young men. If you’re African American, there’s about a one in two chance you grow up without a father in your house -- one in two. If you’re Latino, you have about a one in four chance. We know that boys who grow up without a father are more likely to be poor, more likely to underperform in school.



As a black student, you are far less likely than a white student to be able to read proficiently by the time you are in 4th grade. By the time you reach high school, you’re far more likely to have been suspended or expelled. There’s a higher chance you end up in the criminal justice system, and a far higher chance that you are the victim of a violent crime.  Fewer young Black and Latino men participate in the labor force compared to young white men.  And all of this translates into higher unemployment rates and poverty rates as adults.



And the worst part is we’ve become numb to these statistics.  We're not surprised by them.  We take them as the norm. We just assume this is an inevitable part of American life, instead of the outrage that it is.  That's how we think about it. It's like a cultural backdrop for us -- in movies and television. We just assume, of course, it's going to be like that. But these statistics should break our hearts. And they should compel us to act.

Michelle and I are blessed with two beautiful daughters. We don’t have a son  But I know if I had a son, on the day he was born I would have felt everything I felt with Malia and Sasha -- the awe, the gratitude, the overwhelming sense of responsibility to do everything in my power to protect that amazing new life from this big world out there. And just as our daughters are growing up into wonderful, beautiful young women, I’d want my son to feel a sense of boundless possibility. And I’d want him to have independence and confidence. And I'd want him to have empathy and compassion. I'd want him to have a sense of diligence and commitment, and a respect for others and himself -- the tools that he’d need to succeed.



I don't have a son, but as parents, that’s what we should want not just for our children, but for all children.  And I believe the continuing struggles of so many boys and young men -- the fact that too many of them are falling by the wayside, dropping out, unemployed, involved in negative behavior, going to jail, being profiled -- this is a moral issue for our country. It’s also an economic issue for our country.



After all, these boys are a growing segment of our population. They are our future workforce. When, generation after generation, they lag behind, our economy suffers.  Our family structure suffers. Our civic life suffers.  Cycles of hopelessness breed violence and mistrust. And our country is a little less than what we know it can be.  So we need to change the statistics -- not just for the sake of the young men and boys, but for the sake of America’s future.



That’s why, in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin verdict, with all the emotions and controversy that it sparked.  I spoke about the need to bolster and reinforce our young men, and give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them.  And I'm grateful that Trayvon’s parents, Sybrina and Tracy, are here with us today, along with Jordan Davis’s parents, Lucy and Ron.



In my State of the Union address last month, I said I’d pick up the phone and reach out to Americans willing to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds to stay on track and reach their full potential, so America can reach its full potential. And that’s what today is all about.



After months of conversation with a wide range of people, we’ve pulled together private philanthropies and businesses, mayors, state and local leaders, faith leaders, nonprofits, all who are committed to creating more pathways to success. And we’re committed to building on what works. And we call it ‘My Brother’s Keeper’.  Now, just to be clear – ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ is not some big, new government program.  In my State of the Union address, I outlined the work that needs to be done for broad-based economic growth and opportunity for all Americans. We have manufacturing hubs, infrastructure spending -- I've been traveling around the country for the last several weeks talking about what we need to do to grow the economy and expand opportunity for everybody. And in the absence of some of those macroeconomic policies that create more good jobs and restore middle-class security, it’s going to be harder for everyone to make progress. And for the last four years, we’ve been working through initiatives like Promise Zones to help break down the structural barriers -- from lack of transportation to substandard schools-- that afflict some of this country’s most impoverished counties, and we’ll continue to promote these efforts in urban and rural counties alike.



Those are all government initiatives, government programs that we think are good for all Americans and we're going to keep on pushing for them. But what we’re talking about here today with ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ is a more focused effort on boys and young men of color who are having a particularly tough time.  And in this effort, government cannot play the only -- or even the primary -- role.  We can help give every child access to quality preschool and help them start learning from an early age, but we can’t replace the power of a parent who’s reading to that child. We can reform our criminal justice system to ensure that it's not infected with bias, but nothing keeps a young man out of trouble like a father who takes an active role in his son’s life.



In other words, broadening the horizons for our young men and giving them the tools they need to succeed will require a sustained effort from all of us.  Parents will have to parent -- and turn off the television, and help with homework.  Teachers will need to do their part to make sure our kids don’t fall behind and that we're setting high expectations for those children and not giving up on them.  Business leaders will need to create more mentorships and apprenticeships to show more young people what careers are out there. Tech leaders will need to open young eyes to fields like computer science and engineering. Faith leaders will need to help our young men develop the values and ethical framework that is the foundation for a good and productive life.



So we all have a job to do. And we can do it together -- black and white, urban and rural, Democrat and Republican.  So often, the issues facing boys and young men of color get caught up in long-running ideological arguments about race and class, and crime and poverty, the role of government, and partisan politics. We've all heard those arguments before.  But the urgency of the situation requires us to move past some of those old arguments and focus on getting something done and focusing on what works.  It doesn’t mean the arguments are unimportant; it just means that they can't paralyze us.  And there’s enough goodwill and enough overlap and agreement that we should be able to go ahead and get some things done, without resolving everything about our history or our future.



Twenty years ago, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson started a program in the Miami public school system -- feel free to stand up -- to help young boys at risk of dropping out of school. Today, it serves thousands of students in dozens of schools.  As Mayor of New York, Mayor Bloomberg -- Michael Bloomberg --who’s here today, started a ‘Young Men’s Initiative’ for African-American and Latino boys, because he understood that in order for America to compete we need to make it easier for all our young people to do better in the classroom and find a job once they graduate.  .A bipartisan group of mayors called ‘Cities United’ has made this issue a priority in communities across the country. Senator Mike Lee -- a leader of the Tea Party -- has been working with Senator Dick Durbin -- a Democrat from my home state of Illinois -- to reduce disparities in our criminal justice system that have hit the African American and Latino communities especially hard.



 So I want to thank everybody who’s been doing incredible work -- many of the people who are here today, including members of Congress, who have been focused on this and are moving the needle in their communities and around the country.  They understand that giving every young person who’s willing to work hard a shot at opportunity should not be a partisan issue. Yes, we need to train our workers, invest in our schools, make college more affordable -- and government has a role to play.  And, yes, we need to encourage fathers to stick around, and remove the barriers to marriage, and talk openly about things like responsibility and faith and community. In the words of Dr. King, it is not ‘either-or’; it is’ both and’.



And if I can persuade Sharpton and O’Reilly to be in the same meeting -- then it means that there are people of good faith who want to get some stuff done, even if we don't agree on everything.  And that's our focus.  While there may not be much of an appetite in Congress for sweeping new programs or major new initiatives right now, we all know we can’t wait.  And so the good news is folks in the private sector who know how important boosting the achievement of young men of color is to this country -- they are ready to step up.



Today, I’m pleased to announce that some of the most forward-looking foundations in America are looking to invest at least $200 million over the next five years -- on top of the $150 million that they’ve already invested -- to test which strategies are working for our kids and expand them in cities across the country.  Many of these folks have been on the front lines in this fight for a long time. What’s more, they’re joined by business leaders, corporate leaders, entrepreneurs who are stepping forward to support this effort as well.  And my administration is going to do its part.  So today after my remarks are done, I’m going to pen this Presidential Memorandum directing the federal government not to spend more money, but to do things smarter, to determine what we can do right now to improve the odds for boys and young men of color, and make sure our agencies are working more effectively with each other, with those businesses, with those philanthropies, and with local communities to implement proven solutions.



And part of what makes this initiative so promising is that we actually know what works-- and we know when it works. Now, what do I mean by that? Over the years, we’ve identified key moments in the life of a boy or a young man of color that will, more often than not, determine whether he succeeds, or falls through the cracks.  We know the data.  We know the statistics. And if we can focus on those key moments, those life-changing points in their lives, you can have a big impact; you can boost the odds for more of our kids.



First of all, we know that during the first three years of life, a child born into a low-income family hears 30 million fewer words than a child born into a well-off family. And everybody knows babies are sponges, they just soak that up.  A 30-million-word deficit is hard to make up. And if a Black or Latino kid isn’t ready for kindergarten, he’s half as likely to finish middle school with strong academic and social skills.  So by giving more of our kids access to high-quality early education -- and by helping parents get the tools they need to help their children succeed -- we can give more kids a better shot at the career they’re capable of, and the life that will make us all better off. So that's point number one right at the beginning.



Point number two, if a child can’t read well by the time he’s in third grade, he’s four times less likely to graduate from high school by age 19 than one who can.  And if he happens to be poor, he’s six times less likely to graduate.  So by boosting reading levels, we can help more of our kids make the grade, keep on advancing, reach that day that so many parents dream of -- until it comes close and then you start tearing up -- and that's when they’re walking across the stage, holding that high school diploma.



Number three, we know that Latino kids are almost twice as likely as white kids to be suspended from school.  Black kids are nearly four times as likely.  And if a student has been suspended even once by the time they’re in 9th grade they are twice as likely to drop out.



That’s why my administration has been working with schools on alternatives to the so-called ‘zero tolerance’ guidelines -- not because teachers or administrators or fellow students should have to put up with bad behavior, but because there are ways to modify bad behavior that lead to good behavior -- as opposed to bad behavior out of school. We can make classrooms good places for learning for everybody without jeopardizing a child’s future. And by building on that work, we can keep more of our young men where they belong -- in the classroom, learning, growing, gaining the skills they need to succeed.



Number four, we know that students of color are far more likely than their white classmates to find themselves in trouble with the law.  If a student gets arrested, he’s almost twice as likely to drop out of school.  By making sure our criminal justice system doesn’t just function as a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails, we can help young men of color stay out of prison, stay out of jail. And that means then, they’re more likely to be employable, and to invest in their own families, and to pass on a legacy of love and hope.



And finally, we know young black men are twice as likely as young white men to be ‘disconnected’ -- not in school, not working.  We've got to reconnect them. We've got to give more of these young men access to mentors. We've got to continue to encourage responsible fatherhood. We've got to provide more pathways to apply to college or find a job.  We can keep them from falling through the cracks, and help them lay a foundation for a career and a family and a better life.



In the discussion before we came in, General Powell talked about the fact that there are going to be some kids who just don't have a family at home that is functional, no matter how hard we try. But just an adult, any adult who’s paying attention can make a difference. Any adult who cares can make a difference.



Magic was talking about being in a school in Chicago, and rather than going to the school he brought the school to the company, All-State, that was doing the work. And suddenly, just that one conversation meant these young men saw something different.  A world opened up for them. It doesn’t take that much. But it takes more than we're doing now.



And that’s what ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ is all about -- helping more of our young people stay on track; providing the support they need to think more broadly about their future; building on what works, when it works, in those critical life-changing moments.  And when I say, by the way, building on what works, it means looking at the actual evidence of what works. There are a lot of programs out there that sound good, are well-intentioned, well-inspired, but they’re not actually having an impact.  We don't have enough money or time or resources to invest in things that don't work, so we've got to be pretty hard-headed about saying if something is not working, let’s stop doing it. Let’s do things that work. And we shouldn’t care whether it was a Democratic program or a Republican program, or a faith-based program or -- if it works, we should support it. If it doesn’t, we shouldn’t.



And all the time recognizing that ‘my neighbor’s child is my child’ -- that each of us has an obligation to give every child the same chance this country gave so many of us.  So, in closing, let me just say this. None of this is going to be easy. This is not a one-year proposition. It’s not a two-year proposition. It's going to take time. We're dealing with complicated issues that run deep in our history, run deep in our society, and are entrenched in our minds. And addressing these issues will have to be a two-way bargain. Because no matter how much the community chips in, it’s ultimately going to be up to these young men and all the young men who are out there to step up and seize responsibility for their own lives.



And that’s why I want to close by speaking directly to the young men who are here today and all the boys and young men who are watching at home. Part of my message, part of our message in this initiative is ‘no excuses.’ Government and private sector and philanthropy and all the faith communities -- we all have a responsibility to help provide you the tools you need; we've got to help you knock down some of the barriers that you experience. That’s what we're here for.  But you’ve got responsibilities, too.  And I know you can meet the challenge -- many of you already are -- if you make the effort. It may be hard, but you will have to reject the cynicism that says the circumstances of your birth or society’s lingering injustices necessarily define you and your future.  It will take courage, but you will have to tune out the naysayers who say the deck is stacked against you, you might as well just give up -- or settle into the stereotype. It’s not going to happen overnight, but you’re going to have to set goals and you're going to have to work for those goals. Nothing will be given to you. The world is tough out there, there’s a lot of competition for jobs and college positions, and everybody has to work hard.  But I know you guys can succeed.  We've got young men up here who are starting to make those good choices because somebody stepped in and gave them a sense of how they might go about it.



And I know it can work because of men like Maurice Owens, who’s here today. I want to tell Moe’s story just real quick. When Moe was four years old, he moved with his mom Chauvet from South Carolina to the Bronx. His mom didn’t have a lot of money, and they lived in a tough neighborhood.  Crime was high.  A lot of young men ended up in jail or worse. But she knew the importance of education, so she got Moe into the best elementary school that she could find.  And every morning, she put him on a bus; every night, she welcomed him when he came home.  She took the initiative, she eventually found a sponsorship program that allowed Moe to attend a good high school.  And while many of his friends got into trouble, some of it pretty serious, Moe just kept on getting on the bus, and kept on working hard and reaching for something better.  And he had some adults in his life that were willing to give him advice and help him along the way.  And he ended up going to college.  And he ended up serving his country in the Air Force. And today, Moe works in the White House, just two doors down from the Oval Office, as the Special Assistant to my Chief of Staff. And Moe never misses a chance to tell kids who grew up just like he did that if he can make it, they can, too.



Moe and his mom are here today, so I want to thank them both for this incredible example. Stand up, Moe, and show off your mom there.  Good job, Moe.  So Moe didn’t make excuses. His mom had high expectations. America needs more citizens like Moe. We need more young men like Christian. We will beat the odds.  We need to give every child, no matter what they look like, where they live, the chance to reach their full potential.  Because if we do -- if we help these wonderful young men become better husbands and fathers, and well-educated, hardworking, good citizens -- then not only will they contribute to the growth and prosperity of this country, but they will pass on those lessons on to their children, on to their grandchildren, they will start a different cycle.  And this country will be richer and stronger for it for generations to come.



So let’s get going. Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America.”.”


United States President The Honorable Barack H. Obama is pictured above strolling on the South Lawn of the White House on 14 October 2014 accompanied by a group of young men who are mentees under the  ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ Initiative.  (Photograph extracted from the White House website - www.whitehouse.gov)





 


 


 


 


 


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WHO WILL BELL THE CAT? THE "LOVE FRAUD" AND MEN WHO SUFFER DOMESTIC EMOTIONAL ABUSE ABROAD: MR. MATTHEW GANSALLO


There is an epidemic in America and a gathering storm in Britain of men who are victims of emotional abuse from their spouses. Many men from Nigeria and other west African countries fall into the trap of vicious spouses they married ‘from home’ thinking they will have a more traditional valued marriage like their parents and away from the seemingly immoral attitudes of the West (and by traditional I do not mean controlling or abusive which is the misconception).

Many men in Britain and America walk around dazed, empty shells of themselves after they have been emotionally abused and their imported spouse have stripped them of all they have worked for many decades, by carefully "playing the system" of the laws in these countries and falsely accusing their deceived male spouses that brought them "over" of all types of domestic abuse and violence.


In these countries abroad the law has not recognised the deceit of these spouses, while others claim they have, but because of racial reasons, turn a blind eye to the atrocities of this fraud and leave the African man to suffer because they do not like him in their country. So year after year, month after month, many men are being emotionally abused through this marriage fraud.


So why are men so reluctant to admit and accept that they have been or are being emotionally abused? Why are they so ashamed to admit that they have been or are victims of "marriage fraud"? Not all men are so stupid to go into a marriage when they know the disastrous intent of deceitful spouses. Men are so scared of being ridiculed by others, men hardly talk to one another about their problems with their spouses for fear of being perceived as "weak". And, of course, men will never cry in public or to any one else for fear of being called a "big softie" and not a real man (whatever that is).

The formula is simple: Man goes home. Man marries wife. Husband brings the wife "over". Wife starts to work or go to a University. Husband pays all the bills and for wife's studies singlehandedly for years. Wife gets her British or American passport. Wife begins to emotionally abuse man. Wife begins to openly have affairs and go to night clubs without husband (emotional abuse). Wife calls police for man numerous times to build up a ‘history’ of molestation and abuse for the courts. Wife gets good job, applies for divorce. Court transfers all the man’s property to ex-wife. It does not matter if he has lived in the property for 50 years, all is given to her. Husband loses employment, moves into a small bedsit and ex-wife now moves her new lover into his home and bed, Husband has suffered severe emotional abuse, but bottles it all up.


And no one is saying anything about this flagrant injustice of men’s human rights. Now that there is no legal aid for family matters in Britain, a lot of deceitful spouses are capitalizing on the laws abroad that favors women. Some will comment: "It is a woman’s country" -- so this should be expected. No, it is not a woman’s country and it should not be accepted, because if Prince Charles becomes King of England tomorrow the domestic and marital laws that favor women now will not automatically change to favor men.


This is why spouses take advantage of men and abuse them emotionally, especially in a land they know they can play the legal system to their advantage. Men have no help. Our home countries and embassies will not give us legal aid because even though we are dual citizens, we succumb to the British legal system.

Should there not be a law of our land and home countries which will be set up to protect us from such vicious manipulative, British and American "passport hungry" spouses? Can our country do nothing? Should we not have human rights lawyers who will take up genuine cases in Britain and America and save our men from such wickedness? The British laws refuse to take into consideration the background of those spouses who commit the ‘love and marriage fraud’ just because they have British passports through a fraudulent marriage. Our human rights lawyers could be called in to do these checks and it will be obvious that deceit was at the core of the marriage and the false allegations of many spouses that were ‘brought over’. This should be passed on to the British and American courts and judges. This suggestion might appear lofty and will take years to legally put in place. I am no legal expert. However failing that the names of these deceitful money hungry mostly poverty mentality spouses should be published and they should be named and shamed. Their families who sold their daughters to this form of fraud and silent prostitution should be named and shamed in all the national newspapers. At least than there will be a form of deterrent of this flagrant injustice delivered to innocent men who just wanted to start and have a family. We have to begin to talk now. Men will have to be encouraged to come out and speak out. To seek help and shed of the stereotypical alpha male attitude that belongs to the early 20th Century. Men have to be warned nationally and internationally. This emotional abuse of men for financial gain in countries abroad has to stop.

There is a storm brewing.

Who will bell the Cat?

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Mr. Matthew Gansallo is the International Men's Coordinator for the nation of Nigeria.  Gansallo’s book ‘Men Who Suffer Domestic Emotional Abuse, The Silent Suffering. A Guide To Help" is scheduled for publication. To order a copy of the book, please email mgansallo@yahoo.com or aamcinternational@yahoo.com or call 011 080-5161-9466.