By Phillip Jackson
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.
Black men in prison in America have become as American as apple pie. There are about 1.1 million black men in prisons and jails in the United States, more than there are people incarcerated in the entire rest of the world combined. This criminalization process now starts in elementary schools with black male children as young as nine and ten years old being arrested in staggering numbers according to a report from the U.S. Department of Education..
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 destructive process.
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 society.
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 black men.
2) Help connect black boys to a positive vision of themselves in the future.
3) Create high expectations and help black boys live into those high expectations.
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.
Phillip Jackson is Executive Director of The Black Star Project; 2013 White House Champion of Change; 2013 Omega Psi Phi Citizen of the Year; 2011 Purpose Prize Fellow; AKA Monarch Man of the Year in Education; Delta Sigma Theta Measure of a Man Awardee, Chicago Defenders 50 Men of Excellence Awardee; Operation PUSH Reclaim Our Youth Awardee; 7th Congressional District of Illinois Education Advocate of the Year and Auntie's Baby Boy. Please contact him at 773.285.9600 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.