My Brother’s Keeper: Trauma must be part of conversation on helping Black males


Black History Month has come and gone once again. I hope that folks learned something useful and constructive during this period. Oftentimes, I believe as Black people we forget that everything we do today is making Black history. Sadly, we think about what would be in the history books 50 years from now based on current events — the major events would be the election of President Obama, the murder of Trayvon Martin, and maybe even the first openly gay professional athletes being Black as well.

However, I do not think these things encompass what we know Black history is about today. Most of our honored historical figures were fighting for justice, which, if we are to be honest with ourselves, we are still fighting for today.

However, to end the month of February, President Obama brought forth the initiative “My Brother’s Keeper.” Uplifting emotions were apparent at the launch event as President Obama stood at the podium with a group of young males of color behind him. However, this My Brother’s Keeper initiative must go beyond emotions. It must go beyond the surface level of its potential. It must assist in shifting the paradigms of the current plight of despair Black males are currently in. Shifting this paradigm will make history and hopefully move it closer to the goal of justice.


Black male trauma

One of the biggest obstacles to this goal of justice is the trauma that Black males have been infected with. The Black family unit is deteriorating in Minnesota, as well as other place in the United States. There are high numbers of fatherless homes, physical abuse, drug abuse, illiteracy, incarceration and increasing mental health issues. The Black family is in pain. Black males play a vital role in this pain.

When Black men suffer, everybody in the family and community suffers tenfold. Black males pass their pain to their children and spouses. This pain transfers across generations. The trauma has a devastating impact on the Black community.

Black males are vital in rebuilding our communities by building strong bonds with women and raising capable children. In order for this to be done, there needs to be a focus on Black male’s emotional pain and trauma. I believe addressing trauma is the first step in producing justice.


Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative

The My Brother’s Keeper Initiative is a five-year $200 million effort to find and rapidly spread solutions that have the highest potential for impact in key areas, including early child development and school readiness, parenting and parent engagement, third-grade literacy, educational opportunity and school discipline reform, interactions with the criminal justice system, ladders to jobs and economic opportunity, and healthy families and communities.

My hope is that the concept of trauma is infused in all these key areas, as well as how racism plays a vital role in creating the traumatic experience. If this is not included in the focus, I believe we will be missing the root causes of the plight of Black males and the community will continue to suffer as a result.

I hope that in the year 2050 there are Black people who look back at this time and have something to be proud about. I hope that we utilize this initiative to our advantage to really do something more constructive than starting more mentoring programs. We must move towards efforts that are getting to the roots of our problems as Black people.

Regardless if the focus is on males or females, we must start building a better foundation for the generations to come. If we do not, there will be no Black history. Honestly, we will just be that — history.


Brandon Jones M.A. is a mental health practitioner. He welcomes reader responses to, or follow him on twitter@UniversalJones.