WASHINGTON — Pastor Michael McBride celebrated President Barack Obama’s Feb. 27 announcement of the “My Brother’s Keeper” Task Force, and renewed his resolve to amplify a shared narrative that changes the perceptions of boys and men of color, to promote policies that end the school-to-prison pipeline, mixed family status deportations and to support programs that reduce violence without increasing incarceration.
Widening the national circle of concern to tackle the particularly unique challenges of boys and men of color in America through My Brother’s Keeper is a long awaited and powerful next step toward living up to the promise of America — that all are created equal and all deserve to live free.
As Americans and people of faith, our values teach us that we have a shared responsibility to each other. And we, as a nation, must match the president’s resolve to expand opportunity so that all of God’s children have access to the opportunity to live free from violence and incarceration, whether they’re black, brown or white; rich or poor; from rural areas or urban neighborhoods.
We commit ourselves to support the My Brother’s Keeper initiative and to continue our work in cities and neighborhoods that ensure when a young man wakes up to go to school, he can learn and be successful; and when he returns home at night, he feels safe and free from violence and trauma. When he calls on us, we will answer, because we love and care for his wellbeing.
We affirm President Obama’s emphasis on the importance of the presence of fathers, and continue to call for administrative relief for the unique challenges that impact fathers and sons of color. It is a moral contradiction that we as a nation expect the active presence of our sons and fathers, and at the same time deport fathers of citizen children, and incarcerate boys and men of color for nonviolent drug offenses.
We can increase the presence of fathers by working to reform the criminal justice system and end the deportations that remove them from families across the country. And we can fully resource and implement proven programs, like Ceasefire, that reduce violence without increasing the prison population.
These are steps that can be immediate and accelerate communities so that all can live free and be safe. And we stand together with the president and all the partners to carry out this most sacred call.
Pastor Michael McBride leads the national Lifelines to Healing Campaign, a faith-based project of PICO National Network to reduce gun violence and end mass incarceration. In 2013, organizers for Lifelines to Healing on the ground across the country helped increase access to jobs by successfully advocating for California’s Fairness in Hiring bill, and with their night walks helped reduce homicides by 50 percent in Richmond, Calif., and by 33 percent in Baton Rouge.
PICO National Network, a faith-based organizing network in the United States,works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 60 local and state federations. PICO and its federations are non-partisan and do not endorse or support candidates for office. Learn more at piconetwork.org