Mayor Ron Nirenberg's Focus is NOT ... My Brother's Keeper
(San Antonio) - San Antonio is making progress on putting a dent in creating opportunities for young Black and Brown young men across our city. Or is it?
It’s no secret that President Barack Obama's signature legacy program, My Brother’s Keeper (MBK), is falling by the wayside quickly in the Alamo City. But why? The past Mayor Ivy Taylor literally gave the program to a White consultant group, P16 (now UP Partnership), to manage this lifesaving Presidential initiative for her Black and Brown populations. As we were in election season, Black leaders expressed their concerns to Mayor Taylor that we had the consulting companies with the experience to make MBK special. However, the Mayor put our interest on the stove's back burners in order for race not be the item of discussion in front of her White contributors and voters who she patronized for support. Perhaps, just maybe this was one of the reasons that contributed to her loss - especially losing to Ron Nirenberg on the Eastside. It definitely was not because Nirenberg out campaigned Ivy Taylor on the Eastside, it was more so a protest vote against the Black mayor. Now, we are in a mess. The current mayor, Ron Nirenberg inherited a program that he has shown no attention - in fact he doesn't appear on the website like the past mayor. He hasn't demonstrated he wants to be a solution to the problem.
Secretary Duncan joined Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, Mayor William Bell and 10 young men and women for a roundtable discussion on President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)
Truth be told this national initiative is active in our city, but its impact is not significant. Since My Brother’s Keeper challenge was accepted in 2014 it has been on a downward trajectory. In its dichotomy of influence vs. funding this city project has not stood the test of time. It is not a community led grassroots collaboration. UP Partnership/MBKSA has controlled the wheels of the work minimizing community participation. UP Partnership has simply dropped the ball on the initiative’s key benefactors, Young Black and Brown (Hispanics and Native Americans) Men. Now the current Mayor and City Manager own this problem. After looking at the website MBKSA.org, the last updates took place in 2017. Old board partners like Akeem Brown is listed, but no longer associated with SAGE. Not pleasing to the eye, the data reported for the victimization of African American young men has increased since the start in 2014. So what is the value of collecting and reporting data, if there is nothing being done to reduce the crime? Also sad to report there are only three sponsors - the City of San Antonio, Toyota and H-E-B. What happened to the many sponsors who were on-board at the very start? Why has the Mayoral leadership gone passive...or some say dead on this critical quality of life initiative? Who is the director of MBKSA?
While San Antonio appears to have thrown the initiative down like a tattered rag, across the nation, MBK has demonstrated the narrative of so many young men of color across our country has changed. The stories of many young men of color in San Antonio remain the same and some say is even worse. It is our opinion; our next District Council person needs to ask the Mayor and Council to allow his/her office to own the program since 20% of the City's Black population resides in District 2. The deaths of young Black boys and Hispanic boys are still happening at an alarming rate. MBKSA was supposed to be a viable solution.
In efforts to make the invisible visible we must empower our boys and men by way of opportunity to show them that they can lead successful lives. Black male representation in regard to employment for the MBKSA initiative has consistently remained at a discomforting low. As of press time, the SA Chapter of My Brother’s Keeper employs no Black male talent. Are they My Brother’s Keepers?
Photo: Damon Lake
Mayor candidate Greg Brockhouse says,
"there is hope". "I hope that our next Mayor - and I hope it is me - will hold this torch high enough for young Black and Brown Men to affirm their dreams. We should have made national impact by now with My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio especially with former mayor and Presidential candidate Julian Castro working with the program in Washington DC. We didn't leverage his presence and activity. It’s simply time to increase our participation in My Brother’s Keepers challenge as we create a city where the best and brightest aren’t determined by how we feel but are determined by what they are capable of. I want to congratulate San Antonio's Damon Lake, who was recognized in the Top 10 in our nation's youth participating in the MBK Rising! Challenge. When I heard of his accomplishment, I wondered why he wasn't pat on the back at the City Council meeting for showing what we are made of as a city"
Mr. Lake credits Dr. Adena Loston, President of St. Philip's College, "who showed her concerns, her love and empowered me to be my best. I hope to continue to do the same for those who look up to me."