Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Black Men

Living in the city all my life and ministering alongside and among minorities for most of my adult life, I have come face to face with the enormous problems in the Black Community and have had to wrestle, as a White man, with all the questions and implications of where things are and how they got that way. I posted about this some time ago.

I have heard all the theories, seen many attempts to "fix" the problem, engaged in the arguments and debates, and at some small level actually put my hand to the plow for some kind of work toward a solution. Anyone ministering in the city has witnessed the parade of preachers and politicians and social engineers who hurl their efforts, seemingly in vain, at the behemoth of brokenness.

I think we're missing something.

The liberals tend to polarize toward a position that minorities, especially African Americans, are consummate victims. Racism, bigotry, poverty and the lack of education that results from them are the adequate explanation for the current mess. Conservatives polarize to the opposite side: Blacks are making excuses and are completely responsible for their present situation. "If they'd just pull themselves up by their bootstraps, everything would be OK" seems to be much of the conservative mantra.

In real life, it's much more complex than either of those positions. No thinking person can spend an hour in the 'hood and come to any conclusion other than that institutional racism has done devastating damage after 300 years. By the same token, I firmly believe that anyone who is objective cannot deny the role that individual and corporate responsibility play in the overall health of a community, and that these very things have become marginalized in large swaths of the Black Community - by Black people.

With all this in mind, I got this e-mail today. It was birthed in the Black community and contains the seeds, I believe, for real change. See what you think.

The Silent Genocide:Facts about the Devastating Plight of Black Males in America

Only strong, organized, committed and courageous Black parents can stop this genocide. Not the police. Not teachers. Not schools. Not preachers. Not elected officials. Not social service agencies. Join us on Saturday, January 17, 2009, to do the work of Black parents. Celebrate Dr. King's Birthday by doing Dr. King's work!

Facts about the Devastating Plight of
Black Males in America*

In Chicago, only three out of 100 Black boys earn a college degree by age 25.
In 2006, only 37% of Black males graduated from high school in Chicago (near the U.S. average for Black males); only 19% graduated in Indianapolis and 20% in Detroit.
Just 22 % of Black males who began at a four-year college graduated within six years.
69% of Black children in America cannot read at grade level by the 4th grade, compared with 29% of White 4th-grade children.
The average 17-year-old Black student has the reading and math scores of the average 14- year-old White student.
7% of Black 8th-graders perform math at grade level.
67% of Black children are born out of wedlock.

In Illinois, 47% of all non-institutionalized Black men do not have a job.
In New York City in 2003, only 51.8% of Black men ages 16 to 64 were employed vs. 75.7% of White men and 65.7% of Latino men.
At comparable educational levels, Black men earn 67% of what White men earn.
White males with a high-school diploma are just as likely to have a job and tend to earn just as much as Black males with college degrees.
Blacks make up only 3.2% of lawyers, 3% of doctors and less than 1% of architects in America. Many of these are Black women.
53% of Black men aged 25 to 34 are either unemployed or earn too little to lift a family of four from poverty.
Nationally, 72% of Black high-school dropouts are unemployed.
Black America lost between $72 billion and $96 billion in the recent mortgage fiasco.
The median net worth of a Black family in America is $6,100 vs. $67,000 for a White family.
White men with prison records receive more offers for entry-level jobs in New York City than Black men with identical records (and White men with a prison record are offered jobs just as often - if not more so - than Black men who have never been arrested).

Murders of Black males between the ages of 14- and 17-years old rose by 40% between 2000 and 2007. During the same period, murders committed by Black males between the ages of 14- and 17-years old also rose by 38%.
In 2001, the chances of going to prison were highest among Black males (32.2%) and Hispanic males (17.2%) and lowest among White males (5.9%).
Blacks account for only 12% of the U.S. population, but 44% of all prisoners in the United States.
Blacks, who comprise only 12% of the population and account for about 13% of drug users, constitute 35% of all arrests for drug possession, 55% of all convictions on those charges, and 74% of all those sentenced to prison for possession.
In at least 15 states, Black men were sent to prison on drug charges at rates ranging from 20 to 57 times those of White men.
In 2003, 1,172 Black children and teenagers in the United States died from gunfire.
One in nine Black men between the ages of 20- to 34-years old is incarcerated and one in 15 Black men over 18-years old is incarcerated.
More Black children died in Chicago from gunfire in 2008 than Chicago soldiers died in Iraq.
1.46 million Black men out of a total voting population of 10.4 million have lost their right to vote because of felony convictions.

Only strong, organized, committed and courageous Black parents can stop this genocide. Not the police. Not teachers. Not schools. Not preachers. Not elected officials. Not social service agencies. Join us on Saturday, January 17, 2009, to do the work of Black parents.

Phillip Jackson will speak on these statistics and solutions to these issues on Saturday, JANUARY 17, 2009, on WVON radio on the Kendall Moore Show. You may visit
www.WVON.com and click on "Streaming 24/7 WVON" to hear this show at 5:00 pm eastern time, 4:00 pm central time, 3:00 pm mountain time and 2:00 pm pacific time.

* These statistics were compiled from various sources by The Black Star Project. You may email us to request sources at
blackstar1000@ameritech.net. To join the movement to save young Black men and to educate Black children, call us at 773.285.9600, email us at blackstar1000@ameritech.net or visit our website at www.blackstarproject.org.

Across the United States, the educational, social and economic outcomes for most Black children are a catastrophe! In the new global educational and economic order, many, if not most, Black American children cannot compete. If ever there were reasons for Black parents to take action, few are more compelling than the ones listed above:
Black parents are responsible for the well-being of Black children. Not the police. Not teachers. Not schools. Not preachers. Not elected officials. Not social service agencies. Black parents must hold the police, teachers, schools, preachers, elected officials, and social service agencies accountable for their actions to support the well-being of Black children.

We will only solve the problems of Black youth to the degree that we create strong, empowered and engaged parents for Black children. Our actions, or inactions, will determine the future of our race. Please join Black parents across America who know that if we are not organized, our children will not be recognized. If we do not speak up, Black children will have no voice. Black parents must advocate as well as educate. We must take responsibility for the education of our children. We will work in our homes, with our families, with our communities, with our schools and with our government to guarantee the proper and successful education of Black children. Passive parental involvement is not enough. Black parents must become active co-managers of our children's destiny. We must become the engineers of their success. We must and will actively participate in every aspect of their lives. Please join the Black Star Project's League of Black Parents and commit to a 90-minute meeting, one day a month, for the sake of your child and the future of our race. By joining the League of Black Parents, you will also join our community PTA chapter so that we can take advantage of existing resources.

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Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...

Wow Steve. Strong stuff!

have spent almost my whole life living and working in the inner-City, and am biracial. My lenses are really African-American in many ways, as that is the box I checked on every test, job application, etc.

I like the thought of developing an empowered army of African-American parents; I am just concerned with the reality and implementation of such a strategy. Where would we start? Are you suggesting that the non-black community has no liability?

Just processing...

January 28, 2009 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Not suggesting that at all!

The non-black community is and has been a signifcant part of the problem, as I pointed out, so it is incumbent upon us to also be a part of the solution.

We have significant liability - in blame for what has happened and also in responsibility to work toward change now.

The problem in the past I think is that African-Americans themselves were often not the primary force behind attempted solutions (like LBJ's Great Society, for example).

My central thought is that the key to change in the Black community lies in the Black community itself. Whatever other resources are tapped are important, but the seeds for change must arise from within, I'm convinced.

In other words, there is no solution to the problem that does not include Black men as its primary element. Black men are the key, and everything else is secondary.

At least that's how I see it as an outsider.

My friend Nate says this: "As the Black man goes, so goes America."

Where would we start?

A revolution has to happen among Black men. I think it has to be supernatural. I think White people and the rest of the country can help, but under the direction and mentorship of Black men.

Is this realistic?

I don't know. The potential is certainly there.

The letter I posted was borne out of the Black community, so the spark certainly exists...

January 28, 2009 at 11:25 AM  
Anonymous steve martin said...

Interesting article.

I read something not too long ago that is related.

Maybe you would be interested it is at

I think there are some cross-over themes.


January 28, 2009 at 4:50 PM  
Anonymous steve martin said...

The whole address didn't come through on my first try


January 28, 2009 at 4:52 PM  
Anonymous steve martin said...

It keeps cutting off the last three letters.

After the last . (period) it should read asp

January 28, 2009 at 4:54 PM  

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