Development of Boys and Young Men of Color: Implications of Developmental Science for My Brother's Keeper Initiative

by Oscar A. Barbarin; Patrick Tolan; Sandra Graham; Velma McBride Murry

Feb 1, 2016

Boys and men of color (BMOC) are at significant risks for poor out-comes across multiple domains including education, health, and financial well-being with little promise of improvement in the near future. Out of concern for this situation, President Obama instituted the My Brother's Keeper Initiative (MBKI) to enlist the combined resources of federal, state, and local governments as well as human services, philanthropy, and business sectors. The Social Policy Report describes MBKI and summarizes ideas gleaned from developmental science that may be useful in efforts to reach the MBKI goals of school readiness, competent reading by third grade, high school and college completion, successful entry into the work force, and reduction of violence. Policy recommendations are offered along with suggestions for research that might involve developmental scientists in this effort.

  • The United States will witness immediate change in the population shift of youth as early as 2018 when children of color will become the majority of youth ages 18 years and younger.
  • the third grade problems of behavior and social adjustment to school have morphed into serious concerns about academic performance.
  • Schools must actively combat negative cultural stereotypes about boys and men of color, particularly those that portray boys as threatening and incapable of academic excellence and benefiting from rigorous instruction.
  • Boys and Young Men of Color experience the highest violence victimization rates in this country. This goes unnoticed or is dismissed because their victimization is seen as caused by their own criminal behavior and violence.