Young, Black, and Male in America: An Endangered Species

Young, Black, and Male in America: An Endangered Species

Young, Black, and Male in America: An Endangered Species

Young, Black, and Male in America: An Endangered Species

Synopsis

This comprehensive volume provides in-depth analyses of the deteriorating status of black youth, particularly black males. Experts from a variety of professions examine the implications and interrelations of the multiple problems facing black youth and propose a comprehensive set of policies and programs that address those problems. They consider such important economic, sociocultural, and political issues as unemployment, teenage pregnancy, crime and delinquency, substance abuse, and the conservative backlash against civil rights and social welfare programs.

Excerpt

Jewelle Taylor Gibbs and the authors who contributed to this volume make a convincing case that it is no exaggeration to call young black males an "endangered species." In many ways the conditions of these youths have deteriorated markedly since the 1950s and 1960s, and they are caught up in a complex mix of forces and circumstances that will, in the absence of policy changes, make their conditions even worse in the future. While the conditions of all other groups (including women and recent immigrants) have improved in the past 25 years, 6 million young black males age 15 to 24 are more likely than their counterparts in 1960 to be unemployed, to be involved with the criminal justice system, and to commit suicide. In November 1987 the black teenage unemployment rate (34.0 percent) was nearly twice the rate for all teenagers (17.4 percent); the black unemployment rate was three times as high as in 1960, and both unemployment and labor force participation rates of young black males had deteriorated dramatically relative to whites since 1960. Almost half (46.2 percent) of young black males under 18 are in households below the poverty line; 42 percent live in female-headed households, two-thirds of which have below-poverty incomes.

One of the most important conclusions to be drawn from the rich materials presented in this volume is that the conditions of young black males are due to a complex constellation of mutually reinforcing factors. Failure to appreciate this reality often causes policymakers, the media, and even scholars who should know better to analyze problems such as dropping out of school, teenage pregnancy, high crime rates, unemployment or unemployability as unitary problems with single solutions such as "better education" or a "willingness to work." The reality is that relative to whites, many young black males face serious cumulative problems all of their lives. They are more likely to be born to unwed teenage mothers who themselves have limited education and even more limited life choices. The children of teenage mothers are more . . .

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