BALTIMORE — Black men in the United States face a far more dire situation than is portrayed by common employment and education statistics, a flurry of new scholarly studies warn, and it has worsened in recent years even as an economic boom and a welfare overhaul have brought gains to black women and other groups.The high levels of incarceration among Blacks also leads to disproportionately fewer Blacks being able to vote.
These were among the recent findings:
¶The share of young black men without jobs has climbed relentlessly, with only a slight pause during the economic peak of the late 1990's. In 2000, 65 percent of black male high school dropouts in their 20's were jobless — that is, unable to find work, not seeking it or incarcerated. By 2004, the share had grown to 72 percent, compared with 34 percent of white and 19 percent of Hispanic dropouts. Even when high school graduates were included, half of black men in their 20's were jobless in 2004, up from 46 percent in 2000.
¶Incarceration rates climbed in the 1990's and reached historic highs in the past few years. In 1995, 16 percent of black men in their 20's who did not attend college were in jail or prison; by 2004, 21 percent were incarcerated. By their mid-30's, 6 in 10 black men who had dropped out of school had spent time in prison.
¶In the inner cities, more than half of all black men do not finish high school.
According to census data, there are about five million black men ages 20 to 39 in the United States.
Terrible schools, absent parents, racism, the decline in blue collar jobs and a subculture that glorifies swagger over work have all been cited as causes of the deepening ruin of black youths. Scholars — and the young men themselves — agree that all of these issues must be addressed.
Arrests of black men climbed steeply during the crack epidemic of the 1980's, but since then the political shift toward harsher punishments, more than any trends in crime, has accounted for the continued growth in the prison population, Mr. Western said.
A reminder that the Pennsylvania General Assembly recently passed a bill making it hard for those with a felony conviction to vote which was fortunately vetoed by Governor Rendell.
Further surpression of the Black vote can be expected in New Orleans. As ColorOfChange.org notes:
On April 22nd, New Orleans will hold it's first mayoral election since the storm. Everyone watching knows what will happen if elections go forward without a change--the Black vote will be suppressed and the ability for Black New Orleanians to claim their future compromised. During Iraq's election, the U.S. government provided polling places in U.S. cities with large numbers of Iraqi-Americans. Why won't it do the same for thousands of mostly Black displaced New Orleanians?You can join ColorOfChange.org in calling on Governor Blanco to protect the voting rights of Katrina survivors by demanding satellite voting and, if necessary, postponing the election to do so HERE.