How ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ Initiative Just Might Save Black Boys

By linking education and criminal justice, the initiative could finally address the key problems that are holding back young men.

Generic image Thinkstock

At the film screening, I asked Kalif how his case turned out. He explained that he had to go to court twice—missing school, and two days of missed work for his parents—before he was given a chance to explain that he carries Sharpies in his backpack because he attends an arts and technical high school. The judge dismissed the case, but what was the real cost of that arrest?

Instead of treating crime and school as unrelated topics, let’s recognize that keeping our brothers on the path to college and career means thinking more deeply about how policing and punishment undermine their educational success.

Tanya E. Coke is director of the School-Justice Project and a distinguished lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the City University of New York.