Bloomberg announces male initiative plan, critics challenge viability and motivation

NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | 10/12/2011, 2:22 p.m.

"After 10 years in office, for him to come up with a mere $127 million for a bogus initiative that has no job creation, but money for the Department of Probation to reverse recidivism is unreal. It would take more than that.

Money for an education success program when he has already failed with the existing $23 billion budget from the Department of Education and money to teach young men to be fathers and for job training but no jobs to place them in is absolutely ridiculous. The only people who are going to benefit from Bloomberg's initiative are those who get the contracts to implement the work for this toothless initiative."

Eddie Ellis, director of the NuLeadership Policy Group, told the AmNews, "While I applaud the mayor for putting up his own money to support this initiative, there does not seem to be anything new or innovative in the approach being adopted, and I suspect the final outcomes will reflect that lack of creativity. The issues are jobs and education. Unless and until these two issues are dealt with in a serious and sustainable manner, from a community-specific and culturally competent perspective, we will continue to witness the same problems confronting young Black men."

Ellis' NuLeadership Policy Group is an independent public policy think tank, formerly located at Medgar Evers College in the City University of New York, whose research and reports are conducted by formerly incarcerated academic professionals.

"Nothing in the mayor's program suggests any change in how these issues are being handled," Ellis noted. "He needs to broaden his base of advisors and funding opportunities to include neighborhood activists who are doing the work at the local level. He should also talk to Greg Mayers [Walcott's senior staff person] about our NuUrban Marshall Plan."

In his Huffington Post piece, Myers said Bloomberg's Young Men's Initiative "underplays this dire nationwide economic distress which has so many minorities unemployed, and underemployed and ensnared in poverty - including minority women and young girls who aren't eligible for the Young Men's Initiative's paid internships, job training, and mentoring. No doubt, minorities are disproportionately in lockup - but that is, in part, because of the vestiges of racial discrimination in the form of outmoded law enforcement policies that punish victimless drug offenses - the kind that has always provided an underground job industry to the underclass and undereducated."

Myers said that the initiative also "doesn't consider the racial impact of NYPD's stop and frisk practices on young minority males, whose profiling by police is legion and fits the stereotype of "criminal."

To have Walcott track Black and Latino males in schools "and study them as if they're guinea pigs for tips about ways to raise their academic achievement and self-esteem," is not only "plain stupid" but the Black and Latino community "is dis-served by good-intentioned paternalism," said Myers. "Such strategies for addressing the racial gap between non-whites and their peers are doomed to fail because they are trying to sell hope through charity and group blame.

"Noblesse oblige is not a program of social change. It won't make the public schools functional or improve instruction or, for that matter, train a single person for real jobs. Noblesse oblige is pure and simple charity that takes the form of handouts and differential treatment of people of color from others similarly situated in conditions of poverty and despair.

"This, wittingly or unwittingly, overlooks the underlying causes of why so many minorities are involved with the criminal justice system, drop out of school and can't find work," Myers added. "At the heart of this missionary zeal is what scholar Theodore Cross describes as 'the human desire to rescue the life of a less fortunate person" which "produces, it seems, a parallel need to defame the character of the victim who is often said to be unable to help himself.'"

Bloomberg did not respond to an AmNews request for comment.