In these recent years, most of the racial news in America has been sobering, if not depressing. Trayvon Martin. Tamir Rice. Walter Scott. Ferguson. Baltimore. And Charlottesville. like Ta-Nehisi Coates, many public commentators have underlined the enduring character of racism in America, and the ways America’s racial divide has exacted a particular kind of tolls on black boys and men, there is today, unheralded, good news for African-American men.
Despite all the race relations that always portrays negativity, especially regarding African-American men (many Americans, according to a study done in 2006 by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Washington Post, and Harvard University, which shows that unemployment, poverty, and crime are endemic among African-American men), the truth is that most of African-Americans in America will not beincarcerated, are not unemployed, and are not poor even if black men are more likely to experience these outcomes than other men to experience these outcomes.
Matter of fact, millions of black men are prospering in America today.
Our newest report, “Black Men Making It In America,” spotlights two pieces of particular good news about the economic well-being of African-American males.
First, the share of poverty within black men has fallen from 41% in 1960 to 18% today. Second, and the most important, the share Of African-American males in the middle or upper class as measured by their family yearly income has risen from 38% in 1960 to 57% today. In other words, about one in every two black men in America have reached the middle class or higher.
This wonderful news is important and should be widely spread because it might help reduce prejudicial views towards black males in the society at large, and negative representations of black men in the media. It should also generate hope among all African-Americans particularly the young black males.
Correcting overly negative representation and attitudes regarding black men is important because they form and shape how black men are treated within society, and how black males view their potential. Executive director of Opportunity Agenda, a social justice organization Alan Jenkins, said that “Experience and research show that expectations and prejudice on the part of potential employers, police officers, teachers, health care providers, and other stakeholders influence the life outcomes of thousands or even millions of black males.”
So, what roads are black men taking to make it in the United States?
we were able to identify three factors that are associated with their success: education, work, and marriage by tracking black males from young adulthood through their 50s using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979.
Black males who were married, worked full-time, or had some college education were more likely to be part of the middle or upper class by the time they got to their 50s. For instance, we found that the odds that black males who make it to the middle or upper class are more likely to get married by a rate which is three times higher, compared to their rivals who never married. Their financial status is better and higher mostly because married black women contribute a higher share of income to their household than any other married women.
Adding to the chances of black men achieving middle or upper class and higher status is the US military. We found that the service in the military was associated with a 72 percent increase in the odds that black males made it into the middle class or higher as 50 something men.
By providing good health care, stable work, housing, and opportunities for advancement,
By providing stable work, good health care, housing, and opportunities for advancement, by supporting virtues such as responsibility, duty, loyalty, and perseverance, and by pushing racial integration, the US military has served as an important factor and route into the middle class.
Moreover, the US military is also known for the marriage-oriented culture, and we found that black males who served in the military as young men were more likely to be married later on after the service, at ages 29-37, compared to their rivals who did not serve at all. This marriage advantage played a huge role in boosting their odds of being successful.
Of course, the story behind our report is not all rose-colored. Black males are significantly less likely to make it into the middle or the upper class than their white rivals and Asian-American peers. The rates of black men in their 50s making it to the middle class were about 60% lower for those who were charged with a crime as a young man.
Regarding the fact that poverty, racial segregation, and bias affect the probability that young black men will get caught up in the criminal justice system, systemic racism limits the economic fortunes black males might have. What’s more right now, only a small portion of black males graduate from college: 17%. Schools and colleges in the US need to do more and more to identify, recruit, and support young black males so they are accepted, make sure they attend, and graduate from four-year colleges and universities in America.
among all that is wrong about race in America, we cannot disregard two sets of social facts: today, about one in every two black men have made it in America, and these men have crossed long paths into the middle class that can be replicated.
The evidence suggests that if more Americans knew about how many black men were succeeding today, and more about the routes they are taking towards that success, it would most definitely reduce racial prejudice and generate hope among today’s young black men that they too have a shot at making it in America now.