Let's tell the White House how young men of color are doing in Detroit

When President Obama announced the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force in February, one thought began occupying my mind: how do we bring this energy and momentum to Detroit?

Obsessed is a strong word, but some things are worth being obsessed over.

On Monday, I’m excited to say, we have the first output of that obsession. The White House is sending several representatives, including Broderick Johnson, head of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, to Detroit for two important meetings.

At the first, the Foundation has partnered with Rep. Thomas Stallworth, who heads the Detroit Caucus, to convene civic leaders working on issues effecting young men of color in Detroit.

At the second, we’re joining forces with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit Free Press to hold a public listening and conversation night at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. If you’d like to come, please check out the information here and register. We’d love to see you.

One of my biggest hopes is that through Monday’s events, Detroiters will get two important things accomplished.

First, regular residents, youth leaders and civic leaders will have a chance to converse directly with White House officials, to enlighten them about our specific issues in Detroit, to stress how much more we want and expect for our young men of color, and to share their thoughts about what’s working now and what might work given more investment.

At our public listening event, we will hear directly from a panel of young men about what challenges they face, what their hopes are, what their worries are, and what their solutions are. Any chance we have to hear directly from our youth always brings me incredible insight and value. I’m very much looking forward to hearing what these young men have to say. Detroit Free Press Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Stephen Henderson will moderate the conversation. As a native Detroiter and an African American man, he’s a great example of the kinds of achievements we know our city’s young men can reach.

Secondly, I hope Detroiters will leave with better understanding of what My Brother’s Keeper can mean for Detroit. Johnson and his team from the White House will share a bit more about the direction of the Task Force is headed. I know there is immense community interest in this initiative, which is directing $300 million in philanthropic and federal dollars to efforts to improve outcomes for young men of color. I also know there has been some confusion about exactly what the game plan is. If you have questions or concerns, or just want to know more, I hope you’ll try to be with us on Monday evening. If you can't make it, follow the action on Twitter using #MBKDetroit.

As someone who grew up in Detroit, and who works daily to improve outcomes for Detroit youth, this issue is very personal to me. No young man in this city, no matter his color, should live a marginalized life, one destined for prison, one riddled with violence, stress and limited opportunities. I know there are many, many people who want to change these odds. I’m hoping Monday provides a catalyst to our efforts. I’ll see you then.