Persistent Challenges: Context Matters

Despite overall progress, some Americans have lagged behind, have fewer opportunities available to them and continue to face roadblocks to success. One of these groups is boys and young men of color.


  • Boys and young men of color are more likely than their peers to be born into low-income families and live in concentrated poverty; to have teenage mothers; to live with one or no parent; to attend high-poverty, poor performing schools; to miss out on rigorous classes; and to have teachers that are inexperienced or unqualified.
  • In schools and in courts, these boys and young men too often receive harsher penalties for the same infractions as similarly charged White males, and are least likely to be given a second chance.
  • They have higher incidences of asthma, diabetes, and other illnesses which affect everything from school attendance to employment.
  • And, particularly detrimental to their academic and professional achievement, they are less likely to be diagnosed or treated early for intellectual, learning or emotional disabilities and are more likely to be enrolled in special education.
  • They are more likely to live in communities with higher rates of crime, increasing the likelihood of negative encounters with police and victimization by violent crime.
  • Role models and a strong network of caring, informed adults may be unavailable. Even for those children in the best circumstances, society provides negative reinforcement and at times explicit bias.

These challenges are complex and interwoven, but they are also surmountable with focused effort. Stories of triumph, despite these statistics, are inspiring evidence of this fact.


(My Brother’s Keeper Task Force Report to the President, 2014)