Endangered Species: The Crisis of the Man-child in the Promised Land

The Reality of America for Black Males

All of the most important quality of life indicators suggest that African American males are in deep trouble. They lead the nation in homicides, both as victims and perpetrators (1) and in what observers regard as an alarming trend, they now have the fastest growing rate for suicide.(2) For the last several years Black males have been contracting HIV and AIDS at a faster rate than any other segment of the population (3) and their incarceration, conviction and arrest rates have been at the top of the charts in most states for some time.(4) Even as babies, Black males have the highest probability of dying in the first year of life(5), and as they grow older they face the unfortunate reality of being the only group in the United States experiencing a decline in life expectancy.(6) In the labor market they are the least likely to be hired, and in many cities, the most likely to be unemployed.(7)


Poverty and Unemployment

An astronomically high number of young black males are not just jobless, they are also in mortal danger of becoming job untouchables. According to the Labor Department, nearly forty percent of young blacks are now unemployed. This comes on the heels of the Bush administration's tout of the increase in more than 100,000 new jobs in the past few months. But the jobless crisis among young blacks is not new and can't be totally blamed on Bush's dubious fiscal and economic policies. Even during the Clinton-era economic boom, the unemployment rate for young black males was double, and in some parts of the country triple, that of white males. Discrimination, racial profiling, failing public schools, and broken homes are the easy answers that explain their Great Depression-era high unemployment numbers.


While the economy lifted the boats of many Americans during the 1990s, it left thousands of young black men groping for a life preserver. As a group, black males ages 16-24 who are out of school and have no more than a high school education sank in the job market compared with whites and Hispanics with like attributes. In 1979, 62.5 percent of young blacks with low education had jobs. By 1999-2000, that number had decreased almost 10 percentage points, according to research from professors Paul Offner and Harry Holzer at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute. The largest decline occurred in the past decade. "It's a serious problem," Holzer said. "Our biggest concern is it limits the well-being not only of the men themselves, but of families and children. How can families rise out of poverty and become self-sufficient? And among single mothers, what are the odds of boys breaking out of this cycle if we don't do something to help the dads?" Chronically high unemployment among young blacks has long been a concern, but recent trends show the problem is worsening. Renewed debate on welfare reform has highlighted the challenges facing public policy makers: Efforts to increase the marriage rate will depend on the ability of young men to get jobs.


Inadequate Education

The opposition to Negro education in the South was at first bitter ... for the South believed an educated Negro to be a dangerous Negro. And the South was not wholly wrong; for education among all kinds of men always has had, and always will have, an element of danger and revolution, of dissatisfaction and discontent. Nevertheless, men strive to know.



Declining Life Expectancy

Among teen-agers 15-19 -- where firearm homicide rates are
rising the fastest -- the rate for black males (105.3 deaths per
100,000 population) was 11 times the rate for white males (9.7
per 100,000).  For suicide the racial pattern was reversed.  The
rate for firearm suicide for white males 15-19 was one and a half
times that for black males (13.5 versus 8.8 per 100,000).Young black males, ages 15-24, had the highest firearm mortality rates -- five times that for white males and 10 times that for black females.  For those aged 25-34 the rate for black males was four times the rate for white males and seven times the rate for black females.  For younger ages, firearm death rates
for black children were higher than for white children as well. 
Rates for white females were the lowest at every age group.

 see also: Black Men Missing
God Bless America