What does President Obama have in common with 18-year-old Noah McQueen, a former at-risk youth who’s now involved with My Brother’s Keeper as a mentee at the White House? Turns out a lot!
My Brother’s Keeper is a White House initiative aimed at helping young men of color, inspired in part by the prez’s own life and the hurdles he had to overcome. Noah sat down with POTUS to record some real talk about what the two of them have faced.
They Didn't Really Know Their DadsGetty Images
Noah says he grew up in an unstable environment and doesn’t really know his dad. “That’s one of the things we have in common,” President Obama says about the father aspect. “As I get older, I start reflecting how that affected me. How do you think that affected you?” Responding, Noah says he used to get into fights and that’s what first got him in trouble with the juvenile system.
They’ve Been Judged For Their Skin ColorGetty Images
President Obama has discussed facing racism. Noah, likewise, knows it's sting, saying, “I’m sure you can relate. I feel like as a black man, just me coming on the train over here, I know how we’re perceived, I know how people look at us. Every time we step into the room, we have to be on top of [our] game.”
They've Learned From Their MistakesGetty Images
Noah talks about the pressure of doing things right, and the president interjects, “At the age of 18, I didn't know what I was going to be doing with my life. And you shouldn’t feel like you can’t make mistakes at this point. You’re 18-years-old; I promise you you’re going to make some more as you go along.”
They Discovered Inner StrengthGetty Images
Both President Obama and Noah have had odds stacked against them because of things completely out of their control. But they’ve also both found strength and Noah says he’s a completely different person these days. “But one of the things you’ve discovered is you’ve got this strength inside yourself," President Obama says. "And if you stay true to that voice that clearly knows what’s right and what’s wrong — sometimes you’re going to mess up, but you can steer back and keep going.”
They Want To Help Young PeopleGetty Images
Noah has decided he wants to get involved with education because he wants to help kids, especially kids he sees going through the things he went through. Obama has also done a number of projects and initiatives for young people, including, of course, Our Brother’s Keeper.