Saving Our Sons In School An Ultimate Guide To Understanding And Educating Young Black Males

By Richard Clay (A Future Publication)

If you live or teach in an urban or predominantly Black area, you shouldn’t need any statistics to tell you that the already deplorable crisis of young Black males in school is rapidly getting worse.  And with the dawning of each new generation, our sons’ great disdain towards school grows exponentially.  It is a sickening, mind-boggling task to even try to consider the full ramifications of this continuing crisis on the future of Black people.

If we do not organize and forcefully intervene, Black communities can expect to see unprecedented increases in all of the following conditions among Black males:

  • High school and middle school drop-out rates;
  • Juvenile delinquency;
  • Youth charged as adults and incarcerated in adult prisons;
  • Overall incarceration rates;
  • Unemployment;
  • Homelessness and vagrancy;
  • Drug addiction and distribution;
  • Black on Black violence;
  • Premature health and disease related deaths;
  • STD infection rates;
  • Self-hatred;
  • Disregard for the welfare of others;
  • Extreme bitterness towards parents and all adult authority figures;
  • General confusion; and
  • Mental disorders.

Teen pregnancy statistics which have recently been down would once again spike through the roof continuing the cycle of angry Black boys growing up without fathers, and with very little education.  Absolutely none of us living in or near Black communities are prepared to deal with these very real implications.

Yet the American government and the large private corporations that are invested in the Prison Industrial Complex are constantly tracking the demographics of dropouts and repeatedly flunked or habitually suspended students.  They carefully analyze the data, project how many lock-down facilities will be needed to service that population in the near future, and then rush to build the projected number of new prison, jail, and juvenile detention facilities.

In some cases, projections for new prison construction have been based off of the number of students who score low on their fourth and sixth grade standardized tests.  This coincides with the system’s overall solution as explained in Chapter 2 Section 2 of this guide, to kick large numbers of young Black males out of school permanently, lock them up, and make money off of them as prisoners forever after.

The harmful trends discussed throughout this guide are exacerbating the existing numerical disparities between Black women and Black men.  These disparities are already having a devastating impact on Black adult male/female relationships.  Currently, Black women by far outnumber Black men throughout America making it very hard for many Black women to find male relationship partners.  Black people commonly refer to these disparities simply as the “man shortage.”

According to an analysis of Year 2000 Census data related to the numerical disparities between Black men and women that was released in May of 2005, Black women outnumber Black men nationally by 26%.  Comparatively, white women only outnumber white men by 8%.

In many large urban cities across the country, Black women outnumber Black men by 30%-37%.  For example, for every 100 thousand Black men, the city of Philadelphia has 137 thousand Black women, a disparity of 37%.  For every 100 thousand Black men, the city of New York has 136 thousand Black women, a disparity of 36%.  There is a 29% disparity in Washington D.C. and more than 30% more Black women than Black men in: Chicago, Cleveland, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Birmingham, Alabama.  Please note that these statistics include all Black men who reside in these cities, even the prison and jail inmates.

The disparities are just as great in many of America’s smaller cities.  There is a disparity of 30% more Black women than Black men in: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Syracuse, New York, Flint, Michigan, and Mobile, Alabama.  The disparities are 37% in both Saginaw, Michigan, and East Orange, New Jersey.  Because these cities are much smaller, the disparities between Black women and Black men are more visible.  The resulting consequences are more intense.

This current situation is so dire that national columnist Jonathan Tilove, a writer for Newhouse News Service, wrote an article about it that appeared on the front pages of newspapers across the country.  The Saginaw News printed an article on the subject Sunday, May 15th, 2005 under the title “A Study In Near Extinction.”  Their article emphasized that there are just seven Black men for every ten Black women in Saginaw.

In East Orange, this crisis can clearly be viewed in perhaps its ugliest form.  There are more Black males under the age of 18 than there are Black females in East Orange.  Yet the city has 26% more Black women than it does Black men in their 20’s.  Between the ages of 18-21, Black on Black homicide, substance abuse, and fatal diseases are drastically reducing East Orange’s Black male population.  Like the residents of Saginaw and East Orange, Black families and communities across the country are suffering immeasurable pain and anguish do to these disparities.

Given that Black men are the ultimate targets of oppression in America, the national and local disparities between single, functional Black women and single, functional Black men are far more lopsided than those indicated by the Census 2000 Data analyzed above.  These disparities run any ware from two to one to as high as six to one depending upon the designated age bracket and geographic location.  They run so high primarily because lengthy prison sentences, hard-core drug addiction, Black male unemployment rates, and systemic racism literally make millions of Black men unavailable to Black women and Black youth for functional family relationships.

These realities continue to force staggering numbers of Black women, often times elderly grandmothers, into becoming single heads of their households.  Thus, they are pressed to assume more or all child-rearing and family financial responsibilities.  Such pressures are increasingly financially and psychologically damaging Black women and their children.

According to Year 2000 Census Data, only 28% of all Black family households in the city of Detroit, and 32% nationally even have adult males living in them, let alone heading them.  In comparison, 80% of Asians, 59% of whites, and 35% of Hispanic family households have fathers living in them.  The consequences of the absence of so many Black fathers from our homes are briefly discussed in Chapter 8 Section 19.

On college campuses and inside k-12 schools across the country, single Black women overwhelmingly outnumber single Black men.  Therefore, loneliness, relational frustration, man sharing, lesbianism, and tense attitudes are all increasingly observable circumstances among today’s professional Black women.

President Bush, Black ministers, and many sistas continue to champion the idea that marriage is the ultimate solution to the plethora of problems that are currently plaguing Black families and communities.  However, the national and local disparities between Black women and Black men analyzed above, especially those between functional single Black women and men, prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that such assertions are idealistic and foolishly naive.

Even if every Black man in the country miraculously married a Black woman tomorrow, three to four out of all Black women in the country would still be left unmarried without any prospects for husbands.  Furthermore, the dire economic status of most of these newly married couples would doom the majority of the marriages to end with very quick divorces.  Just as “romance without finance” stands little to no chance, mass marriage without massive community economic development is a non-solution for our problems.

While the age-old sayings in the Black community persist that, “all men are dogs,” and “all men cheat,” the stark realities of Black male oppression in America continue to drive many Black men and women from all walks of life into polygamous relationships.  Undeclared polygamy is yet another social reality that is definitely upon us at every class level in Black communities.  It infuriates and depresses many Black women, totally corrupts many Black men who are to immature and weak to handle its real added pressures, and negatively affects the psychology and character of Black children who grow up amidst the resulting constant arguments, fights, and mass confusion.

So we go on vaguely talking about the Black “man shortage,” childishly acting as though the p-word doesn’t exist.  Scores of Black men are proceeding through life incorrectly proclaiming that the fact that they are able to date numerous Black women simultaneously makes them “players,” “pimps,” or “mack daddies.”  They are either failing to realize or refusing to admit that this trend is simply the result of us as Black men being played, pimped, and macked by the system.  Meanwhile, scores of their Black women partners are becoming  over preoccupied with playing private detective in their relationships, gossiping daily about men cheating, and cheating themselves in revenge efforts to go tit-for-tat with their partners.

However, the fact that our community as a whole attempts to deny and ignore this real social phenomenon does not end, change, or improve it.  Living in a constant state of denial simply prevents us from dealing with this serious problem and its related issues constructively.

How serious an effect is the Black “man shortage” having on Black women today?  In one 2006 poll, it was reported that a majority of single Black women stated that they would rather date Black men whom they believed were low-key bisexuals than go without having a man at all.  This shocking revelation explains why so many obvious and/or very questionable bisexual Black men are having no problems dating heterosexual Black women.  It also gives us a peak at the ever-deepening senses of low self-esteem, loneliness, and relational desperation that are understandably overwhelming many sistas.

That poll further concluded that while they understand how vitally important it is to use protection during sexual intercourse, many Black women do not ask their mates to use condoms because Black men often interpret this question to mean that they don’t trust them.  These findings of many Black women being willing to have unprotected sex with Black men who probably are low-key bisexuals come in the midst of a terrible crisis in which AIDS and HIV infection rates are rising faster amongst Black women than any other sex-race group in the country.  Unprotected sexual intercourse with men that are low-key bisexuals, and men that have recently been released from prison are extremely high-risk behaviors for HIV and AIDS infections.

High school teachers do not need to take a poll to recognize that this scary phenomenon is alive and well in their schools.  Black female students are openly dating Black male students who are widely believed throughout their schools to be gay or bisexual.  Some of such relationships are of course sexual ones.  All of such relationships temporarily empower the young men to convince themselves and others that they are heterosexual, or at least that they can “pull girls” if and whenever they want to.

In cases where the relationships fail, and the young men later admit to being gay or bisexual, the young ladies almost always insist that they didn’t know back then, or truly did not believe the rumors.  Yet in most cases, they were seeing signs and questioning the young men’s sexuality all along.  They saw the signs because gay and bisexual Black male teens are nowhere near as good at hiding them as are older gay and bisexual Black men.  However, low self-esteem, physical attraction, the intense need to “have somebody,” and the disparity between available young women and men students motivated the young ladies to attempt to make the relationships work.

There is no doubt that the Black “man shortage” is real.  Black women are already feeling it, and hurting as well as over-competing with each other because of it.  It is drastically affecting how Black women date, dress, relate to one another, and view themselves.  Black men and women need to begin to have mature dialogues with each other around these issues so that we can all grow to be safer and more productive in our responses to them.

With all of the problems that the visible Black “man shortage” is causing us now, let us return to Harvard Law Professor Michael Males’s dire 1995 prediction.   After studying updated FBI crime data, he predicted that if current trends continue, by the year 2020, 63% of all Black males in between the ages of 18-34 will be locked up in prison.  His prediction did not cover all of those Black males from that same age group who will be repeatedly serving jail sentences, or be on probation or under house arrest via a tether.

Even if you totally disregard all of the other conditions discussed above that are bound to get worse among Black males if we do not take immediate corrective action, the American criminal justice system alone is poised to snatch from us at least 70% of our: sons, future husbands and mates, future fathers, and future leaders during the primes of their lives.  Since 2020 is only 12 years away, Michael Males’ prediction covers all young Black males in our schools and homes today from ages 6-22.

Now factor back in the other conditions discussed above and ask yourself the following series of questions.  How many of our little boys and teenage Black males are going to be able to survive this onslaught which they have little or no real understanding of?  In 2020, what will Black communities look and function like with that many Black men and young Black males missing in action?  Who will our daughters marry and partner with?  Who is going to raise our incarcerated sons’ children?  Who will protect and rebuild what will be left of our fractured communities?

If we as a people do mature and begin to make sacrifices and changes in order to implement the solutions suggested in this guide, is this great human catastrophe avoidable?  And what must I personally do now in order to contribute to rebuilding a movement to save our sons in school and in life?

There is no mystery about the overall ramifications of what we are facing as a people.  We are staring two decades into the future at a serious Black population decline, and several decades into the future right at Black genocide.  Genocide is the wholesale killing off of an entire race or group of people.  Even though we are fully cooperating by doing a lot of this killing off ourselves, the end results are the same.

No matter what scientific advances the world makes, we will still need free and functional Black men and women in order to carry our race into the distant future.  In order to have free and functional Black men, we must first educate and raise young Black males to be intelligent problem solvers.  Therefore, it is more true now than it ever was before that school is the crucial battleground where we will either save or loose our sons, and simultaneously save or loose the future of our race.  Our time clock is ticking, time is of the essence, and time waits for no one.