America Has Lost A Generation Of Black Boys
posted March 21, 2007
There is no longer a need for dire predictions, hand-wringing, or
apprehension about losing a generation of black boys. It is too late.
In education, employment, economics, incarceration, health, housing,
and parenting, we have lost a generation of young black men. The
question that remains is will we lose the next two or three
generations, or possibly every generation of black boys hereafter to
the streets, negative media, gangs, drugs, poor education,
unemployment, father absence, crime, violence and death.
Most young black men in the United States don't graduate from high
school. Only 35% of black male students graduated from high school in
Chicago and only 26% in New York City, according to a 2006 report by
The Schott Foundation for Public Education. Only a few black boys who
finish high school actually attend college, and of those few black
boys who enter college, nationally, only 22% of them finish college.
Young black male students have the worst grades, the lowest test
scores, and the highest dropout rates of all students in the country.
When these young black men don't succeed in school, they are much
more likely to succeed in the nation's criminal justice and
penitentiary system. And it was discovered recently that even when a
young black man graduates from a U.S. college, there is a good chance
that he is from Africa, the Caribbean or Europe, and not the United
Black men in prison in America have become as American as apple pie.
There are more black men in prisons and jails in the United States
(about 1.1 million) than there are black men incarcerated in the rest
of the world combined. This criminalization process now starts in
elementary schools with black male children as young as six and seven
years old being arrested in staggering numbers according to a 2005
report, Education on Lockdown by the Advancement Project.
The rest of the world is watching and following the lead of America.
Other countries including England, Canada, Jamaica, Brazil and South
Africa are adopting American social policies that encourage the
incarceration and destruction of young black men. This is leading to
a world-wide catastrophe. But still, there is no adequate response
from the American or global black community.
Worst of all is the passivity, neglect and disengagement of the black
community concerning the future of our black boys. We do little while
the future lives of black boys are being destroyed in record numbers.
The schools that black boys attend prepare them with skills that will
make them obsolete before, and if, they graduate. In a strange and
perverse way, the black community, itself, has started to wage a kind
of war against young black men and has become part of this
Who are young black women going to marry? Who is going to build and
maintain the economies of black communities? Who is going to anchor
strong families in the black community? Who will young black boys
emulate as they grow into men? Where is the outrage of the black
community at the destruction of its black boys? Where are the plans
and the supportive actions to change this? Is this the beginning of
the end of the black people in America?
The list of those who have failed young black men includes our
government, our foundations, our schools, our media, our black
churches, our black leaders, and even our parents. Ironically,
experts say that the solutions to the problems of young black men are
simple and relatively inexpensive, but they may not be easy,
practical or popular. It is not that we lack solutions as much as it
is that we lack the will to implement these solutions to save black
boys. It seems that government is willing to pay billions of dollars
to lock up young black men, rather than the millions it would take to
prepare them to become viable contributors and valued members of our
Please consider these simple goals that can lead to solutions for
fixing the problems of young black men:
1) Teach all black boys to read at grade level by the third grade and
to embrace education.
2) Provide positive role models for black boys.
3) Create a stable home environment for black boys that includes
contact with their fathers.
4) Ensure that black boys have a strong spiritual base.
5) Control the negative media influences on black boys.
6) Teach black boys to respect all girls and women.
1) Invest as much money in educating black boys as in locking up
2) Help connect black boys to a positive vision of themselves in the
3) Create high expectations and help black boys live into those high
4) Build a positive peer culture for black boys.
5) Teach black boys self-discipline, culture and history.
6) Teach black boys and the communities in which they live to embrace
education and life-long learning.
Executive Director of the Black Star Project
blackstar1000@ ameritech. net