California must reduce the barriers to success for youth of color, according to a new report assessing the bleak prospects facing Latino and African-American boys and young men in the state. These groups make up a disproportionate share of prisoners, school dropouts and the unemployed. We’ll discuss the report, which offers policy ideas for improving the lives of young people of color.

Investing in Youth of Color 10 August,2012forum

Sandre Swanson, California state assemblymember and head of the Select Subcommittee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color, which released the draft report
Jorge Ruiz de Velasco, director of education law and policy at the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the UC Berkeley School of Law and co-author of the report
Marc Philpart, senior associate at PolicyLink, a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity
Rigo "Bubba" Fuentes, contributed testimony to California Assembly's Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color
Michael Muscadine, contributed testimony to California Assembly's Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    You can spend more money on youth of colour but unless parents/guardians start making education a priority nothing will change.There are  families who come to the states from poor countries and the parents seem to take education more seriously as well as discipline in the home where doing homework is more important than watching tv, texting etc.  These parents instill in their children that getting an education, going to college is the way to security.  

    • night lock

      Beth is absolutely right. However I believe that too much emphasis is placed on a college education. I have a college education, but it’s certainly not mandatory to becoming a self sufficient, law abiding, productive member of society. As the saying goes, “the world needs ditch diggers too”. Of course if you’re going to dig ditches, then be the best damn ditch digger on earth! 

      • Beth Grant DeRoos

        Night Lock you are 100% correct per college. I should have noted I also believe in the old style technical colleges we used  to have where a student could learn a trade which paid well, such as plumber, electrician, auto mechanic etc.

        • Spanier Anne

          You are right. Technical programs were discarded along with manufacturing when we went all out for a financial sector economy. Lots of kids like to fixit or work with hands.

  • Rhet

    Overpopulation is the problem. People are encouraged by their cultures or religions, or by their own narcissism to have more children than they need. Maybe a few idiots even have more kids because they’re racists. But society does not need these extra children, and the environment cannot support them. And science will not come to the rescue despite what the liars at Monsanto say. Our planet is over capacity. Only China has gotten this one right.

    • Day Job

         On the contrary. Rhet is merely recommending that people have less (not more) children than they need.  he doesn’t talk about killing anybody – you brought that up.

    • Spanier Anne

      Population pressures when resources are low lead to all sorts of problems. Two working parents can’t give the personal attention needed in today’s world to three or four kids. Children do not need gadgets but they do need a loving and attentive parent. Very hard in single parent households.

  • Kerthialfad

    How does one define “person of color”.  I have green eyes, yellow hair, and pink skin, aren’t I a person of color, as opposed to someone with brown eyes, brown hair and brown skin?
    I remember when the their were “colored people” as in NAACP.  A colored person was simply a descendant of African slaves brought  to the New World. A person of color is not the same thing.  It seems to include South Aisian Caucasian Indians, Jews, Native Americans, Mexicans, Polynesians, etc.  Isn’t everybody a “person of color” in the same sense that technically everybody is a member of a minority group except (technically) women.

    • Freespirit

      As we well know, the meaning of words is changed to meet changing times.  There are also many, many more mixed race people now. The term People of Color is inclusive of mixed race/mixed ethnicity people without breaking us down into our component parts.  Every new word or phrase which is adopted by blacks/African-Americans/Lations/Hispanics/people of color at some point starts being associated with something negative. So we keep on coming up with new stuff. 

      You don’t like the phrase People of Color, that’s ok.  We can use a different word but unforunately that has never changed the fact that people with more melanin in their skin are poorer, sicker, less educated, aless connected to resources, and are incarcerated at higher rates than people with the least amount of melanin in their skin.  Does the fact that I used the scientifically accurate term “people with more melanin in their skin” make that any easier to swallow?  It doesn’t for me. 

      Yes, maybe everyone is a minorty somewhere and by that thinking everyone is part of the majority somewhere.  The fact is there is nowhere in the world where people with the highest concentration of melanin are in better health, better educated, or part of an industrialized economy that compares in anyway to their counterparts in countries where “less melanized” people are in power. 

      I mean no disrespect.  I just don’t think focusing on the current phrasiology is going to address the underlying issue. 

      P.S.  I wasn’t around for Jim Crow, thank goodness.  When signs said “No Coloreds Allowed”  or “Colored Entrance” did only Blacks have to obey those rules or did it also apply to South Asian Caucasian Indians, Jews, Native Americans, Latinos, Polynesians, etc?

      • night lock

        No disrespect, maybe you ought to address the underlying issue then.

  • Alan

    I heard you say that this isn’t just about African American youths and men, but about all youth and men of color, not mentioning “white” people.  So, who are you talking to?  What do you think is the part that should be played by the “average, middle-aged, white guy?”  Other than the ethical or moral questions that arise about fairness and responsibility for the community; if the general population of “non-colored people” have any responsibility, how would you engage them?  What should an everyday, “non-person-of-color” citizen do each day to be part of the solution?  Perhaps you think that every white person is so privileged that they would not even be able to relate to or participate in this discussion?  To move this forward it will not just need to happen within the communities your taking to, by helping one person at a time.  It will also need to happen at a larger policy level that will require the involvement of everyone. 

    • Karen

       I hear you Alan. We, the people of ‘non’ color need to be part of the solution. This was a great Forum today, but it was WAY TOO SHORT! We need to have this in every day discussions, weekly Forums, Monthly community meetings….How do we become more involved and  be part of the solution. I recognize also that my wanting to help, may not always be welcome, as I am ‘a white person who had all the privileges’.
      Sign me up!

  • sunshinetax

    Great program. And the caller Rigo is an example of why we need to invest in the youth in this state; obviously a bright, interested and intelligent boy who needs the support of his community. He’s right, the youth of California are our future, and investing in all of them will benefit the state as a whole.

    To Alan and other commentators, I doubt the guests want to exclude poor and underserved white youths, it just happens that the vast majority of youths dealing with poverty, education inequities and crime happen to be non-whites.

    • night lock

      The youth of California are unfortunately our future. And yes they purposely excluded poor white youth. The show was about “Boys and Men of Color”.

    • Fuentes6pak

      Thank you sunshine tax!You are right,Rigo is a bright and intelligent young man interested in creating more opportunities in Ca for ALL youth.He is my son.I am very proud of him and all the work he serves on this commitee.And for the record nightlock he comes from a well structured TWO parent home.These kids need more credit for what they are trying to do and less criticism!!The east valley is a very difficult place to “get ahead” we still dont even have public transportation in our area.At least there are some brave young men trying to make a difference when it should be the adults worrying about these issues.Very proud of ALL BOYS AND YOUNG MEN OF COLOR!! S.Fuentes “bubbas mom”

  • Jinthebay

    Can you recommend East Bay programs that fight the cradle to prison pipeline. The juvenile justice department fails to reintroduce students after serving time. This system is broken.

    • night lock

      The program is called parents aka “mother & father”. Your mother nurtures you, your father disciplins you. You don’t end up in the juvenile justice system in the first place. That program is highly effective and doesn’t cost society a penny.

      • Jinthebay

        I appreciate you taking the time to read and respond to my posting,
        however, it saddens me that you think everyone has the same opportunities you
        have had. Thus, you seem ignorant to the vary society you are a part of. Not
        all families consist of both a father and mother. Furthermore, not all families
        can afford to be home all day to tend to the delinquencies teenagers get into. Teens get into trouble for various reasons. 


        Sounds like you didn’t pay much attention
        to the show. The gist…there are many factors, outside the control of parents,
        that attribute to juvenile delinquency. Your response may be very well intended (the realistic side of me says probably not the case) but the
        question was for the experts and not for a polarized opinion as those are easy
        to come by.

  • Laura

    I would like the input of those on the show about the idea of starting real community centers where people who had questions about education, voting health, etc There could also be access to computers and help finding answers to their questions. It would also offer a place to walk into, talk to a person looking to help out. I think we could all use more positive human contact. I think our money would be better spent helping a community and not segmenting off young, old, color, no color?, it would help bring people together, the young people could help out older folks in the community and the older people could share their wisdom with the young . And while we are at it, we need to redefine success, a successful life should never be defined by how much you have but by how open your heart is. It is essential that we pull together and pool our resources.

    • night lock

      If I broke my back to be wealthy, why would I pool my wealth with someone who has no motivation to contribute?

      • Jinthebay

        Because we are all just fish swimming in the same pond. 

        And when that wealthy person needs help that money can’t buy that poor person may be the one to offer the skills to help.

  • Theearthgirl

    link to this report? 

  • GHarris-Oakland

    Please post a weblink to the study being discussed

  • Livegreenoak

    How can white people help? We can do practical things like contributing to good organizations. Our mixed race family in Oakland contributes what we can to Brothers on the Rise, Girls Inc., & two inner city PTA’s.


    Many white people are happy to read the paper or vote for progressive politicians, and stop at that. We need to take PRACTICAL action and help organizations doing PRACTICAL work.

    • night lock

      White people can’t help. This is not a problem of race, it is a problem of culture.

  • Damien

    I think the lack of disipline in bring up kids is the cause of these issues. I went to a boarding school all my life and was brought up “by hand”. We would get caned by our teachers if we stepped out of line. That instilled in us fear of authority and also respect later on in life for our teacher’s as we now know that they did everything for our betterment. Here in the US if a teacher tries to discipline a kid, that teacher’s job is on the line. Giving a kid a “timeout or suspension” is not the correct way, we have to push the kid in the direction we want them to go and make them realize that its for their betterment.

  • night lock

    Let me approach the NPR audience with something they are not used to getting. Simple straight forward logic…

    When a man has a heart attack his symptoms may include nausea, sweating, pain radiating in the arm, shortness of breath. When a child grows up without parental guidance and support, the symptoms are poor health, suspension from school, incarceration, lack of job opportunities.
    When a man is diagnosed with a heart attack the doctor doesn’t treat his nausea with dramamine, he doesn’t treat his sweating with a towel, he doesn’t treat the pain in his arm with a massage. The doctor instead gets to the root of the problem and treats the patients heart.

    The problems for “Men of Color” have roots too. Most importantly, the emasculation of the male figure and the decline of the traditional family. 

    Since NPR loves government reports and statistics tell me how many of the “Men of Color” in prison grew up in households with one parent. Tell me how many of those household were run by single mothers. Tell me how many of those men in prison had divorced or unmarried parents.

    Treat the real problem and you’ll see positive results. Continue to treat the symptoms and the patient dies.

    • Jinthebay

      Again in a perfect world doctors would treat a patient with a heart condition with a prescription for proper nutrition and appropriate exercise. By taking a preventive measure you may prevent the need for pharma. Which sounds irrelevant to this conversation but bc you mentioned it, I thought to comment on how simplistic your view is to a solution.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Sadly this is a broken record, where you can go back ten years to FORUM shows that talked about this same issue.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor