In her new article for Rolling Out, Yvette Caslin calls on more black men to step up and be an active presence in the lives of young black boys.
We know the stats and we’ve heard the anecdotes—70% of our kids are born to unwed parents—but that doesn’t tell the whole story. While there are scores of involved and dedicated black men who step up and take on the daunting task of being a parent (no matter their marital status), there are others who shirk responsibility and leave their children on the sideline while they move on with their lives.
And it is precisely this breakdown that has had a negative impact on so many young men and women in our communities.
The school-to-prison pipeline for African American males is not just propaganda. According to new data released by the U.S. Department of Education this spring, “African-American students, particularly males, are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers.”
The statistics are disheartening because there are many officials and educators, and a plethora of research, that supports that this disparity is not based on or related to “differential bad behavior” but to “differential responses” from the educational system.
You know the saying, when a door closes, a window opens. In this case, the alienation from school opens a window of opportunity for our young black men to often end up on the wrong side of the law and land in prison. Our young black men are “at risk” and three times more likely to be incarcerated than non-African American males. And that’s a fact.
Caslin highlights the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Atlanta and points out that of the 455 children waiting to be matched with mentors, 95-percent were male and 77-percent were black. So what’s the hold up? The Big Brothers Big Sisters programs says they need more African-American male mentors to volunteer.
While Caslin focuses on Atlanta, I’m sure mentoring programs in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, New Orleans, Houston, and other metropolitan areas have similar numbers. And one thing is clear: more black men need to get involved.
Inside and outside of the home black women are stepping up to parent, teach, and mentor children, but we can’t do it alone. More black men need to join the ranks of teachers, mentors, coaches, and community leaders if we are going to help our young people avoid the traps that are ready and waiting to swallow them whole.