September 12, 2007

‘What Black Men Think’ plays tonight at school
Tuesday, September 11, 2007

CANTON Janks Morton said an “undeclared civil war” is unraveling the very fabric of the black community.

Tonight at 6, the Washington, D.C.-based filmmaker will host a free viewing and discussion of his new documentary, “What Black Men Think,” at Timken High School at 521 Tuscarawas St. W.

The film, Morton said, addresses some of the problems afflicting the black community, the damaging stereotypes, as well as solutions.

“Just a generation ago, black men and women were together,” he said. “We have the highest divorce rate, the lowest marriage rate, the highest (unmarried) rate and the highest out-of-wedlock birthrate. There’s been an undeclared civil war. … The reason why we’re disconnected is we do not see each other for who we are anymore. We’ve bought into the myths and stereotypes, and have blanketed one another with them.”

Morton said he was moved to make the documentary after watching a C-SPAN debate between writers Michael Eric Dyson and Juan Williams, who appears in the film.

“During their debate, Juan Williams said that 70 percent of black children are born out of wedlock; I didn’t believe him,” Morton said. “I went and did some research. He was dead-on.”

Morton said it resulted in his doing more research, during which he found evidence to debunk the biggest myth of all: That more black men are in prison than in college; a fallacy, he said, that even blacks believe.

Morton said the myth is partly rooted on a Justice Policy Institute study released in 2002

“It was a flawed study,” he said. “They’re two groups that never should have been put together. Incarcerated men includes everyone from a 13-year-old-kid to 80- to 90-year-old-guys, while the age range for college men is 18 to 24.”

Morton said 2005 statistics from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Justice Statistics draw a different conclusion. In 2005, there were 864,000 black men enrolled in college, versus 801,900 incarcerated 18-to 24 year-olds.


Morton said how blacks are viewed, and even how blacks see themselves, is shaped by the media.

“One of the challenges we’re facing is what we define as ‘authentically black,’ ” he said. “There’s a constant bombardment of imagery that redefines what ‘normal’ behavior is. If you take our lowest common denominator — call him Flavor Flav if you want — and while you might not do some of the ignorant things he does, some of the less ignorant things he does don’t seem so bad.”

Another problem, Morton said, is the absence of what he calls “internal corrective measures,” namely, fathers.

“Remove the father from the equation, and you began see some of the bizarre behaviors being adapted by the media,” he said.


Morton said other factors such as welfare in the 1960s and the loss of blue-collar jobs have taken their toll on relationships.

“By the time you get to ‘The Color Purple’ and the ‘Waiting to Exhale’ generation, it’s full-on civil war,” Morton said. “If you want to restore the community, you have to restore the family, which means you have to restore the man.”

Morton also contends that division among blacks is a profitable industry, “that as you fight with one another, the ratings go up, and revenues go up. We keep festering over ancillary issues that keep us divided. Someone’s picking up a very big paycheck.”

A question session will follow the film. Donations will benefit Saving Our Sons (and Daughters). For information, contact Vince Watts at (330) 312-2876 or by e-mail at:

Categories: PRESS
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