Posts Tagged ‘W.K. Kellogg Foundation’

“Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”

In My Brother's Keeper on March 5, 2014 at 12:01 pm

I’m back, really, this time, I’m back. After several months of hibernation and let’s hit the ground running with the relaunch. If you want to know me, know these five things: 1) Love family; 2) Love food; 3) Love television; 4) Love sports; and 5) Love politics. And there are times where all five collide and ***BOOM!*** and there are other times where the combination echoes a beautiful and sweet symphony. 

Music to my ears, and many civil rights activists’ ears, was President Obama’s launch of the “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative. Aaron Dorfman, Executive Director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, says of the initiative “Something major just happened in philanthropy. It is certainly the most significant and strategic development so far in 2014, and it just might prove to be the most important thing that happens in our sector all year.” MBK is a public-private venture to confront and tackle the most pressing issues young boys and males of color face. Ten of the nation’s leading, and as Dorfman describes, “courageous” philanthropic organizations have committed approximately $150 million to improving the lives and opportunities for males of color. La June Montgomery-Tabron, President/CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation noted that “for more than 20 years, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) has funded initiatives to improve the plight of young men and boys of color. Eight years ago, a group of public officials, scholars and community leaders known as the Dellums Commission identified public policies around the country that curtailed opportunities, and recommended comprehensive remedies.” The Open Society Foundations “welcome and are heartened by the president’s commitment and recognition that a key part of the effort to increase opportunity for all Americans, regardless of race and gender, is to focus explicitly on helping boys and men of color succeed.”

There have been much criticism to the President and these foundations’ commitment; nonetheless, what is obvious here is that of all, Black and Latino males face significant challenges. Race matters and so does gender. As Jonah Goldberg points out, 1 in 15 Black males are in prison, and there’s something systemically and inherently problematic about the dark statistics – inasmuch that it is no longer a Black or Brown issue, but an American concern. And this initiative should speak to many on the right – I Corinthians 12:26 – “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” 

As for President Obama, who has been excoriated for either not doing enough for Blacks and even not being Christian enough has used such an initiative to address some of his biggest and harshest criticisms through MBK. God, in Gensis 4:9 asked of Cain “And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?” Through this program, the government and the private sector have come together, to address a pressing and growing concern. This is not a handout, but an extension of the resources and services that generally evade a people – Black and Brown individuals generally face systemic barriers and challenges and being born in and growing up in an inner city or a rural isolated, under-resourced area should not limit people’s ability to acquire life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Lest we forget, America was not born out of individualism…Thus, whether you are Black, White, Brown, Orange, Purple, Blue, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, etc. if you believe in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, for all of us the response to the question of “Am I my brother’s keeper” is a resounding YES! 


“Healing for Democracy”

In Uncategorized on April 30, 2012 at 12:17 am

That was the theme of last week’s W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s 2nd Annual America Healing Conference. The theme “Healing Democracy” comes on the heels of the Trayvon Martin case, on the heels of alleged racialized violence in Tulsa, on the heels of violence in the Middle East, and the Sudan (where battles are occurring over the boundaries separating Sudan from South Sudan), on the heels of a wounded democracy, where battles over budgets, entitlements, the size of government are playing out right before us all.

After giving a presentation to a group of elected officials, economic developers, and teachers, I was once asked whether I thought government, our American government, was broken. I think what the insightful individual was truly asking me is whether democracy is broken. My answer now, as it was then, no it is not, rather it is fractured in some areas. This is what the Kellogg’s conference sought to address, the fractures, especially the fractures and wounds surrounding race in America. It was evident that the advocates, intellectuals, and practitioners present were of diverse opinions on how to heal in the area that Attorney General Eric Holder said we were “a nation of cowards” in.

Healing requires at times removing scabs, requires digging in areas one would rather not, requires even admitting there is a problem to address. Not all agree that America requires healing because for them there is no problem. Yet, there are some areas and cleavages that must be addressed in order for America to move forward as a democracy. And as the 2010 Census illustrates, America is growing ever more diverse in color.

And this too was reflected at the conference, inasmuch that President and Co-Founder of CommonHealth Action Natalie S. Burke acknowledged was a beautiful sight, as well as a significant one, as we move toward healing through dialogue, deliberations, and learning from the other. Vice President of Program Strategy at W.K. Kellogg, Dr. Gail Christopher, summed it up this way: “We have so much to celebrate. What started as an idea, and one of my colleagues reminded me, it really started as a prayer, several years ago, is actually mushrooming into, dare I say, an actual movement for racial healing in this country. And that gives us all a great deal of heart and hope, and pause, because it is tremendous responsibility to shape and guide and see that movement flourish.”