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Half Of Ferguson’s young African-American men are missing

Half Of Ferguson’s young African-American men are missing

Among Ferguson’s young adults there are, in the words of the song, two girls for every boy — that’s not such a happy finding. Modeled Behavior reports:

An important but unreported indicator of Ferguson’s dilemma is that half of young African American men are missing from the community.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, while there are 1,182 African American women between the ages of 25 and 34 living in Ferguson, there are only 577 African American men in this age group.  In other words there are more than two young black women for each young black man in Ferguson.  The problem of missing black men extends to other age groups.  More than 40% of black men in both the 20 to 24 and 35 to 54 age groups in Ferguson are missing.

It is worth noting that there are approximately equal numbers of African American boys and girls, under the age of 20, in Ferguson (2,332 boys and 2,341 girls).  What has happened to young African American men in Ferguson?  There are several possibilities.  First, the Census counts only the civilian population, and excludes individuals serving in the Armed Forces.  Second, tragically, some of these young men have already died.  Third, Census figures do not include individuals who are incarcerated at the time of the survey.  Finally, the Census Bureau may undercount homeless men, men who are marginally attached to the community, and men who are primarily engaged in criminal behavior.

What does that mean for achieving a police force representative of Ferguson?

While there have been important changes in the past few decades, law enforcement is an occupation disproportionately represented by younger men.  According to the Census Bureau over 85% of police officers in the U.S. are men and only 13% are age 55 and above. As Ferguson strives to achieve greater racial diversity in its police force, one of the first problems civic leaders will face is a shortage of young African American men from Ferguson who can fill positions in the police department.  Many of the socioeconomic problems that have caused these young men to be absent from their community will also make it difficult, if not impossible, for these men to pursue a career in law enforcement.

What’s your take away?

Posted by John B. Chilton

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons



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Marshall Scott

I would note that Scandinavian countries one the whole offer significantly more social support than the social “safety net” that we have available (as if the minimal response would have something other than a minimal result). Note, too, that not only the programs but the goals of the Great Society have been largely reduced, reshaped, restructured, and/or revoked. A lot has happened in the last fifty years, and especially in the last thirty plus, with Reagan’s election. I would hesitate to attribute too much “effect” to that “cause.”

Philip B. Spivey

It’s so seductive to periodically mount the old saw horse that Daniel Patrick Moynihan fashioned to explain the gross disparities found in Black communities. High on Moynihan’s list was the “broken” Black family; families headed by a female with absent fathers.

It’s the 50th anniversary this year of the so-called Moynihan
Report. In the intervening years, much of the science and assumptions of this report have been debunked. This Report stands in a long line of soft-science aimed at influencing public policy. Even so, it was a progenitor of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty; a well-meaning effort but like the Report, suffering from gratuitous and erroneous race-based assumptions.

Fifty years later, we see an ever growing number of white households headed by women: Is a ‘single parent home’ the same as a ‘broken home’? Probably not: it depends on the color of the household and/or their bankroll.

Moynihan and like thinking liberals have confused cause with effect when they believe: that female headed households in the Black community were a sure sign that the nuclear family was under siege and concluded that BECAUSE of this “break down”, these households were subject to economic; social; educational; legal and other institutional racial disparities. He called these intersections a “tangle of pathologies” ; the outcome of “broken homes”.

Today, we know that just the opposite is true: that racial disparities are borne of a long history of institutional racism at every level in our society. But what remains is the toxic notion that some how, Black folks are responsible for their own oppression. When Moynihan refers to tangled pathologies, he is not referring to the white supremacist society we live in; rather, he is referring to the Black folks who are its victims. The family with a Black female head-of-household is, by definition, “pathological”.

A lot of us still think that way; it’s easier to blame the victim and mount a “War on Poverty” that, 50 years later, rings hollow and cheap in the light of day because nothing changed structurally. Real progress will follow when substantive structural changes are made in the institutions that educate; provide jobs; provide health care; build and maintain housing; police communities; adjudicate “crimes”; report (media) and entertain (media). Disparities, of any stripe, don’t start in the home; disparities are etched into the American fabric. Do we have the faith and courage to identify, and name, the real sources of these disparities? And be a part of their dismantling?

George A. Bennett

Young men need to stay busy working, 40-50 hrs a week. Unfortunately, full-time jobs are becoming scarce, and the will to work hard and be independent, is also becoming scarce.

Philip Snyder

So, are you saying that black families were not poor prior to the Great Society? The out of wedlock birth rate among black children prior to 1964 was 7%. Today is is over 70% – a 10 fold increase. What is the cause of that increase?

David Streever

That’s a complicated question.
1. The entire rate of births out of wedlock rose dramatically after WWII.
2. The rate has been declining for several years now.
3. Only one population–women over 35 of all ethnicities–has not dropped. This population is on the rise.

Why is this? I expect it’s because fewer people are getting married, especially in that over 35 category, and many of the women having children over 35 are established in their careers and want to have a child but didn’t get married.

Ann Fontaine

It is up in all demographics. There is no social stigma for having a child without being married. And then of course there is the fact that many young black men are in prison for alleged crimes for which white young men don’t serve time.

Philip Snyder

One of the issues is that young black men commit crimes at a much higher rate than young black women. There are two issues in this. The first is the occurrence of crimes and the second is how those crimes are enforced. In my almost 20 years of prison ministry, the single most common feature I have seen is the lack of fathers (or multiple “father”) in the men’s lives growing up – and their involvement in gangs both for a sense of belonging and as a means of protection.

Objectively, the “Great Society” (sic) and the sociological movement away from marriage among the lower classes has correlated with a terrible effect on the African American family. Prior to the Great Society, the rate of children born out of wedlock was 7% in the African American community. Today it is over 70%. This increases poverty and crime AND it sets up young African American males to have a felony criminal record and, thus, have a much harder chance to get a good paying job after their incarceration. It also makes it harder to get a loan.
Finally, it is a monumental task to adapt from long term incarceration to freedom. You and I normally make > 200 decisions a day. The average person incarcerated makes around 20 and has reduced ability to handle multiple decisions.

JC Fisher

“One of the issues is that young black men commit crimes at a much higher rate than young black women.”

But they don’t commit crimes at much higher rates than young white men. They’re just arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated more.

“Objectively, the “Great Society” (sic) and the sociological movement away from marriage among the lower classes has correlated with a terrible effect on the African American family”

Are black families poor (w/ its associated pathologies) because they’re unmarried, or are they unmarried because they’re poor? In the Great Recession, marriage rates collapsed across all ethnicities, as more people were thrown into poverty. The idea that black women use AFDC as a substitute for marriage is not borne out by the facts: poor people don’t marry.

Whit Johnstone

Scandinavians are born out of wedlock at about the same rate as African-Americans, but don’t seem to suffer the same sociological ills because of it. Theologically I want everyone to be married before they have sex, but practically speaking that isn’t going to happen, especially in a society where most people aren’t Christians. So how can we mitigate the negative sociological effects of out of wedlock births. Scandinavians tend to marry only after having multiple children, if at all, but that doesn’t mean that the children don’t know their fathers. Even if the parents break up there’s a strong social expectation, backed up by employment laws, that fathers, wed or not, will share equally with mothers in the care of their children. What changes in our employment and custody laws could encourage unwed fathers to care for their children?

Philip Snyder

All too often the men abandon the women for more “freedom” or the women abandon the men for greater benefits. While the out of wedlock birth rate among the Scandinavians may be about the same, they have a long tradition of the fathers staying with the mothers to raise the children. While they may not be married in the traditional sense, they stay together just like a married couple. So the effect of out of wedlock births is minimized. Among the lower economic classes, that is not the case. It doesn’t help that the gov’t rewards the very behaviors that lead to greater poverty AND act as a pipeline to the gangs and prison life. Among some of the African American communities, a stint in adult prison is seen as a rite of passage – proof that you are a tough man and no longer a kid.

So, what can we do? How do you propose we change the hearts and minds of the younger African American men and women? I submit that rewarding women for having more children out of wedlock will only increase the number of children born out of wedlock. How about we add a reward to getting and staying married? If you are married, you get help for a nice 1200-1500 square foot home in the suburbs?

We also need to stop the idea that becoming pregnant makes you an adult or that fathering a child makes you a man.

Right now, the problem is almost beyond solution. For all the African American women in a town, there are very few African American men of similar age. How do we end this?

Ann Fontaine

There is no evidence of what you say about lower income women– studies by U of Wisconsin show it not to be true.

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