Speaking at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual awards dinner Saturday evening, President Obama addressed the mistrust of police in black communities, according to a statement from the White House. He also announced the addition of a “community challenge” to his My Brother’s Keeper initiative in an effort to help all young people succeed.
The shooting death last month of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, by Ferguson, Mo., police Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, underscored the depth of the problem of mistrust. Obama attributes the dilemma in part to apprehension over racial disparities in the meting out of justice.
“And that has a corrosive effect—not just on the black community; it has a corrosive effect on America,” the president said. “It harms the communities that need law enforcement the most. It makes folks who are victimized by crime and need strong policing reluctant to go to the police because they may not trust them. And the worst part of it is it scars the hearts of our children. It scars the hearts of the white kids who grow unnecessarily fearful of somebody who doesn’t look like them. It stains the heart of black children who feel as if no matter what he does, he will always be under suspicion. That is not the society we want. It’s not the society that our children deserve. Whether you’re black or white, you don’t want that for America.”
The president also announced the addition of a “community challenge” to My Brother's Keeper, a public-private partnership he launched earlier this year to help young minority men. Under the expansion, communities throughout the country will help all young people succeed from the cradle through college and to a career, the statement says.
“We need all of us to come together to help all of our young people address the variety of challenges they face,” the president said about the inititiative.