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Grim Forecast for Young Black Men

From an article by Michael E. Ross on

At a time when the U.S. economy is on the upswing and more people are finding work, young African American men are falling further behind. That's the grim portrait painted by three new and forthcoming books by scholars at Columbia, Georgetown and Princeton universities. The picture isn't new, but the depths of its despair and pathology are. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are about 5 million black men in America between the ages of 20 and 39. The new books, and an earlier one from Harvard, find them losing ground in mainstream American society, despite advances made by black women, presumably part of the same socioeconomic experience. This vexing problem, caused by a variety of social ills, is equally vexing when scholars consider what causes it. Among the studies' findings:

  • Rates of imprisonment for young black men escalated throughout the 1990s and continued climbing well into the current decade. About 16 percent of black men in their twenties who were not college students were either in jail or in prison.
  • African Americans are seven times more likely to go to prison or jail than whites.
  • Almost 60 percent of black male high school dropouts in their early thirties have spent time in prison.
  • The percentage of young jobless black men continues to increase, part of a trend that generally hasn't abated in decades. In 2000, about 65 percent of black male high-school dropouts had no jobs, either because they couldn't find work or because they were in jail. By 2004, the studies found that number had grown to 72 percent. The numbers for young black men were higher than for whites and Hispanics similarly affected.


I don't agree that this is caused by a variety of social ills. It is mainly caused by not following some basic rules. I heard these rules advocated by a member of the black community about a year ago. Of course, I can't remember who.1. Stay in school - graduate from high school.2. Get a job and keep it.3. Stay away from alcohol and drugs.4. Don't have a child out of wedlock.Not following these basic "rules" makes life infinitely difficult for anyone regardless of race. Ask my nephew Scott.

The author highlighted several of the same things you did, mentioning the negative opposites of the "rules" you mentioned...not staying in school, not having a job, commiting crimes and going to jail...He mentioned the negative side of the coin and called them "social ills" mentioned the postive side and called them "rules" but you're talking about the same things for the most part.

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