For millions of young black men in America’s inner cities, the bough just keeps on breaking. If not properly educated or prepared for jobs, they are likely to face higher unemployment rates, time in jail and a darkening sense that life for them can only get worse.
Even as a steady economy and welfare reform have lifted many black women and other disadvantaged groups out of the trenches of poverty, there’s no such promise for young black men, either nationally and locally. In April, the National Urban League issued a dismal report on “The State of Black America: Portrait of the Black Male.” The report cited data on incarceration, joblessness and educational attainment among young black males and called the issues they face the nation’s most serious social crisis.
According to the report:
1. African-American men are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as white males, and black males who work in comparable jobs earn only 75 percent of what white men earn.
2. Half of black men in their 20s were jobless in 2004, up from 46 percent in 2000.
3. Black men are nearly seven times more likely to be incarcerated, with average jail sentences about 10 months longer than those of white men.
4. In 1995, 16 percent of black men in their 20s who did not go to college were in jail; a decade later, it’s grown to 21 percent.
5. Black males between 15 and 34 are nearly eight times as likely to suffer from AIDS as their white counterparts.
6. Black males ages 15-19 die from homicide at 46 times the rate of white males their age.
7. Black male achievement begins to decline as early as the fourth grade and by high school Studies show, black male achievement begins to decline as early as the fourth grade and by high school, black males are more likely to drop out; in 2001, only 42.8 percent graduated from high school, compared to 70.8 percent for their white counterparts.