Last night the NY Times posted an article entitled: Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn which contained information which anyone paying attention would know by now:
Focusing more closely than ever on the life patterns of young black men, the new studies, by experts at Columbia, Princeton, Harvard and other institutions, show that the huge pool of poorly educated black men are becoming ever more disconnected from the mainstream society, and to a far greater degree than comparable white or Hispanic men.
Assuming this to be true, it lays out a very ugly picture. If the drop out rates in certain locations remain the same then we are looking a serious long-term problem. While we expect, in America, for black men to trail white (non-so-called hispanic) men, the fact that black men are also in worse shape than so called "Latinos" and I use the phrase "so-called" because one can be black and come from a spanish speaking (or portugese in the case of Brazil) country or background. But I digress. There's a lot made about black and brown unity on issues. I think this report may back up my contention that blacks and browns may not have as much in common as is thought.
Especially in the country's inner cities, the studies show, finishing high school is the exception, legal work is scarcer than ever and prison is almost routine, with incarceration rates climbing for blacks even as urban crime rates have declined.
This point is particularly troubling as I contend that a large part of the reason for high rates of black incarceration is related to the lack of black business ownership in black communities. In any community the local business is the avenue of first employment it is the first example of careers and business ownership. When everything in a community is owned by people outside that community and those business owners are (rightfully) more concerned with employing their family members in order to keep money in the family, the employment prospects for local young people drops. I'll even add that a part of the problem is also the get money attitude that many young men fall into. No desire or training (or a combination of both) to wait to finish one's education in order to earn the long buck. The idea that life is short so one should have as much fun as possible as soon as possible also plays a serious role in this incarceration problem.
Some would talk about unfair sentencing and police work, but as true as that is, it is not THE determinate for black incarceration. Simply put, if one is not hanging out then one is very unlikely to get arrested for selling crack or whatever. If one doesn't sell crack then one has a far lesser chance of being subject to the incarceration business. If one does not carry a weapon or go places or hang out with people who "necessitate" such armourments, then one's chances of "catching a case" is reduced exponentially. This is not to say that some people don't get caught up due to family problems and the like, but at the end of the day during the transition from childhood to manhood, one has to start making hard choices.
In response to the worsening situation for young black men, a growing number of programs are placing as much importance on teaching life skills — like parenting, conflict resolution and character building — as they are on teaching job skills.
As indicated earlier, this is about decision making. I believe that the two biggest issues are probably conflict resolution in a the face of a popular culture that glorifies confrontation as a measure of manliness.
¶The share of young black men without jobs has climbed relentlessly, with only a slight pause during the economic peak of the late 1990's. In 2000, 65 percent of black male high school dropouts in their 20's were jobless — that is, unable to find work, not seeking it or incarcerated. By 2004, the share had grown to 72 percent, compared with 34 percent of white and 19 percent of Hispanic dropouts. Even when high school graduates were included, half of black men in their 20's were jobless in 2004, up from 46 percent in 2000.
I want folk to really sit down and think on this. For many people their 20's is when they are getting their employment legs. They are at the bottom of whatever profession and are working their way up. If you take away someone's 20's you have eliminated their foundation for work which many will be unable to recover from for an extra decade.
Dropout rates for Hispanic youths are as bad or worse but are not associated with nearly as much unemployment or crime, the data show.
With the shift from factory jobs, unskilled workers of all races have lost ground, but none more so than blacks. By 2004, 50 percent of black men in their 20's who lacked a college education were jobless, as were 72 percent of high school dropouts, according to data compiled by Bruce Western, a sociologist at Princeton and author of the forthcoming book "Punishment and Inequality in America" (Russell Sage Press). These are more than double the rates for white and Hispanic men.
Now this is an interesting point. Why, if "hispanics" are having the same amount of drop-outs, are they not exhibiting the same amount of incarceration and unemployment? I suggest, and this is wholly speculative on my part, that the reason for less crime is a by product of the lower rate of employment. Persons who have jobs to keep have less time to get involved with crime, especially the stand on the corner dealing crack type of crime. Also, and again this is highly speculative, if one has a job and have a culture in which men are expected to provide for family (or at least girlfriend and child) then I also think that one is less likely to get involved with crime as it would be shameful to not be providing for your woman and/or child. In the larger black community of late, the whole "Niggas aint shit," Bitches and Hoes" attitude that is very prevalent in the most popular music in history (possibly) tends to cause friction between black men and women so women are unable to play stabilizing roles in mens lives (yes they do). So when the message is 'niggas aint shit" and "I don't need a man" are the prevalent attitudes around impressionable black boys, then they learn that women are not to be trusted and are "out to get them." and are therefore to be used and not provided for (and I'm not going to get into the patriarchy angle on this. That is a whole other discussion). So black men get caught up on paper chasing and hoe slaying and eventually baby making hence perpetuating the problem (this phenomenon has been well laid out By Dr. Frances Cress Welsing in The Isis Papers). Tie this up with the fact that a lot of low level entry jobs are being taken, well better said, offered to illegal immigrants which depresses wages and that since many of these illegals are spanish speaking and therefore spanish speakers are more employable in these fields leaves a pretty good explanation for black men falling so far behind.
Of course we have to recognize the attitudes of potential employers who are on record as displaying blatant bias against black potential employees. But then again, that too isn't new. Garvey warned us long ago that blacks would need to be the primary employers of themselves if they wanted to be economically self-sufficient. The data in this report only underscores this need. The causes of the problem is two fold: It is the lack of stable families or at least community standards of behaviours and expectations of black males and it is the lack of black businesses to serve as the entry point of black male employment and as beacons of the value of waiting and denying oneself for the future. Until these two issues are dealt with, black men will continue to have the problems outlined here.