November 8, 2007

Speak Freely

The Headlines From Around the African American Community

ABC News producer Eddie Pinder died July 12, 2007. Eddie began his career at ABC News in 1997. Admired and beloved, he will be missed.

Speak Freely/The Truth About Black Men

December 08, 2006 1:33 PM

Eddie Pinder


My friend, Derek, sent an email and link to a promotion on MySpace.com about a new movie, What Black Men Think, which seeks to dispel myths about us.  They call it a PSA… a public service announcement.
I don’t know anything about the producers.  I have not contacted them.  I have just visited their website on MySpace.

I was curious about the title because I am a black man and I too have heard some of the painful so-called facts about black men in America.  You know the ones:  there are more college-aged black men in jail than in college.  Less than half of us graduate from high school.  And about a third of us are in jail.  Depressing.

And quite frankly, I thought all of it was true.  That’s because when I see young black men in inner city New York, I see men who appear to fit the stereotype.  Pants hanging down.  Timberland boots unlaced.  Hair braided in corn-rows. Gangsta slang.  Urban bop.  Most times, I read the paper and see more stories about us in the crime section than in the business section.  I hear Bill Cosby castigate us on national TV for bad habits and bad English.  (My bad: I know I should say “poor” English).

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who was alarmed and concerned  The makers of the film, What Black Men Think, say in their promo that all of this is not true but they don’t back it up with research.  So we did… and by we, I mean my friend, Nick, from the ABC News research department.  He found that most of the PSA was right and most of the B-S is factually wrong.

The myth: More college-aged black men are in jail than in college.
The film says: More black men 18-24 are actually in college (469,000) as compared to prison (180,000).
What we found: In 2005, there were 106,000 black men (18-24) in prison. (Bureau of Justice Statistics)
And 402,000 full time black male college students, 71,000 part time. (US Census)

The myth: 1 out of 2 black men do not graduate high school.
The film says: 74.2 percent of black men graduate high shcool
What we found:  79.5 percent of black males 18 years and over are high school graduates or higher. (US Census) But for black males 18-19 years old 53% have not graduated high school. The high 79% number shows that eventually they do get a diploma or equivalency.

The myth:  1 out of 3 black men are incarcerated.
The film says: It’s only 290,000 out of 16,794,000 black men who are incarcerated.
What we found:  In 2005, there were 547,200 black males in prison out of a total population of 24,315,000 black men in 2002. (BJS/US Census)

I was happily shocked.  But now that I know the truth about black men, I’m saddened. The news is still bad but just not as bad as I thought.  And more importantly, I’m concerned about who and what gave birth to this perception in the first place.  And why people like me are midwives who are quick to believe it.

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Please feel free to comment.  Some of your comments will be read on the ABC News Now’s show, Speak Freely, with Ron Claiborne and me.


Categories: PRESS, STAT 101
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