Young, African-American Men Despite the Election of Essay
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Young, African-American men
Despite the election of an African-American man to the presidency, young African-American men still suffer disproportionately from a number of social ills. This is most strikingly manifest in the disproportionate number of young black men in the nation's prisons, the evident disparities between the performance of African-Americans and whites manifest within the educational system, and the disproportionate difficulties young African-American males experience in finding gainful employment.
Although only 13% of the nation is African-American, 49% of prison inmates nationally are African -American. A black male born in 1991 has a 29% chance of spending time in prison at some point in his life, while the chance for a white male is less than one percent. The chance for a Hispanic man is 16% (Mauer 2011). The reasons for this are debatable: a culture of criminality within urban enclaves that normalize delinquent behavior may be partially the cause but disparities in sentencing may also be at the root of the matter. "Among black defendants convicted of drug offenses, 71% received sentences to incarceration in contrast to 63% of convicted white drug offenders. Human Rights Watch's analysis of prison admission data for 2003 revealed that relative to population, blacks are 10 times more likely than whites to be sent to prison for drug offenses" (Fellner 2006:16).
These sobering statistics cannot be attributed to a failure of personal will; rather they suggest that society is
serving African-American males poorly, in a manner that must be addressed for the health of society as well as for the affected individuals. The negative relationship between African-American males and law enforcement, as well as other representatives of authority, continues to be perpetuated. "The main obstacle to getting black America past the illusion that racism is still a defining factor in America is the strained relationship between young black men and police forces" (McWhorter 2011:1)
African-American young males are recorded as having earlier difficulties within the American educational system. African-American males have a disproportionately high dropout rate. But the problems do not begin in high school alone, and cannot solely be attributed to the availability of distractions, such as selling drugs, which divert African-American males from their schooling. Even in pre-kindergarten, "among African-American males, 18% show competence at sound recognition at start of kindergarten and 36% by the end; For Euro-American males, 18% show competence at start and 54% by the end of kindergarten" (Barbarin 2011: 6). 7% of African-American can sight-read by the end of kindergarten while 17% of European males can, despite the fact that the two populations have virtually the same sight-reading skill levels at the beginning of the grade (Barbarin 2011: 6).
At present, "the jobless rate for young black men and women is 30.5%. For young blacks -- who experts say are more likely to grow up in impoverished racially isolated neighborhoods, attend subpar public schools and experience discrimination -- race statistically appears to be a bigger factor in their unemployment than age, income or even…
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