Monday, June 15, 2009

Dear President Obama...

Earlier this year of 2009, I read that the President signed an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls. According to the White House website, the mission of the Council will be to provide a coordinated federal response to the challenges confronted by women and girls and to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies consider how their policies and programs impact women and families. When I read about the newly formed Council I couldn’t help but hope that someday such a Council would be formed specifically to address challenges that young men of color confront. We urgently need such a Council

. Prior to my learning about that Council, I started writing letters to President Obama. My goal is to write one letter to the President per month for four years, asking him to address specific issues. Below is the first letter I wrote and sent to President Obama. January 30, 2009

 The Honorable Barack Obama President of the United States 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama: You have America’s future in your hands. When you succeed, we all succeed. My sleeves have been rolled up for some time working to make the country and my community (our communities) a better place. Like many, my family and friends are caught in the tidal wave of problems facing this country. I write to share my son (name removed)  story. See enclosed or visit: . A Dream Deferred. On July 17, 2007, my son went from being a 19-year old, third year college student, to being a bank robber. Like so many young men of color who should have the audacity of hope, he languished in hopelessness. (name removed) committed a horrible  crime for which he is rightfully being punished. Still President Obama, I ask you to consider that longer prison sentences and harsher penalties come at the expense of taxpayer dollars, inmates and their families. There is something fundamentally wrong when one considers that America has more people in prison than any country in the world. There is something wrong in the way America treats first-time offenders. There is something wrong with a prison system that offers little, if any rehabilitation opportunities. There is something fundamentally wrong when one considers the fact that young men of color are sentenced more harshly and for longer periods of times than other young man. President Obama, will you pledge to make sentence disparity a top priority? Will you pledge to reform America’s prison system, so that when inmates are released from prison, having paid their debt to society, they have the opportunity to become productive members of society? President Obama, I thank you in advance for your pledge to eliminate sentence disparity. I humbly wait for a response to the question of whether you’ll pledge to make sentence disparity a top priority. Sincerely,  (none of your buisness)