America’s Boys and Men of Color in a “State of Dire Crisis”

Photo Courtesy of Tavis Smiley Presents and

Tonight, PBS will air “Too Important to Fail,” a new prime time special presented by Tavis Smiley that looks at the educational challenges facing African American male youth across the country. The special will feature interviews with educators, policymakers, and young people who, in their own voices, describe myriad obstacles they have and continue to encounter in their pursuit of a quality education.

In a companion blog post to tonight’s special, PolicyLink Founder and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell goes beyond the issue of education to explore other critical problems facing boys and men of color and the communities in which they live – including joblessness, poverty, high incarceration, lack of public transit, and more. According to Blackwell, the path to resolution must start with investments in comprehensive policy solutions that will slash the “opportunity deficit” disparately impacting male and female youth of color today, and end cycles of poverty in low-income communities and communities of color.

Blackwell says:

We can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to the problems facing low-income people and communities of color, particularly the black and brown youth who will soon constitute the majority. In fact, we have an urgent moral and economic imperative to address them.

In a shifting and competitive global economy, the dearth of quality, meaningful opportunities, combined with persistent obstacles and deficient academic and social supports, risks dismantling the very families and communities that are raising our future skilled workforce.

To slash America’s opportunity deficit, we must start by standing up for new and existing solutions to education, workforce training and job creation that would help shatter cycles of generational poverty by preparing young workers of color for better-paying, long-term jobs of the future.

Read the full piece here on

What did you think of Tavis’ prime time special? After you watch, be sure to visit the comments section below and let us know.

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