Black History Month- a time for members of various ethnicities to celebrate the valiant efforts and deep democratic struggles of people of African descent and a time to reflect on the strength of a courageous people who continually clothe themselves with love and justice in the face of monolithic adversity, resistance, malevolent acts, and attempts to diminish and eradicate black beauty, black intelligence and black potentiality. It is also, as Carter G. Woodson once expressed in the Journal of Negro History in October of 1927, a time not only to explore African civilization, history, art, philosophy and anthropology but also to investigate the social, economic and cultural problems of the Negro. Indeed, as we look to continue to bequeath the rich tradition and heritage of our predecessors, it is imperative that the extraordinary progress, outstanding achievements and inventions and beautiful legacy of people of African descent be explicitly and unequivocally told to present and future generations. Similarly, as we embark on communicating the whole truth, it is also essential that we persist to focus on areas where improvement is needed. To be sure, these areas for improvement exist relative to every ethnicity and are not solely confined to African-Americans. Moreover, the associated statistics are not purposed to bring negative culpability and condemnation but rather to shed light on disproportionate yet potentially alarming trends. Though not all-inclusive, the following eight areas do warrant attention, renewed thinking, civil discourse and solutions to help ensure that robust progress is not impeded.
According to a recent study published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in February 2011, “Although blacks make up only 13.6 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 50.3 percent of all diagnosed cases of HIV. Additionally, the rate of HIV diagnosis among black men is eight times that of whites and two times that of Hispanics, and the rate for black women is 19 times that of whites and four times that of Hispanics.”
According to a recent study conducted by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) at Brandeis University, “The wealth disparity between white and black households has more than quadrupled, regardless of income bracket.” Predicated on economic data from 1984 to 2007, the IASP study indicated that the average white family in the sample group held around $95,000 more in assets than the average black family. Additionally, the study found that middle-income white families have more assets (stocks, bonds, business interests, real estate other than primary residence) than do high-income black families.
According to the most recent government figures from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “72 percent of black mothers are unwed which eclipses that of most other groups: 17 percent of Asians, 29 percent of whites, 53 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of Native Americans.” To be sure, these statistics do not imply that babies born to unwed mothers will be unsuccessful or devoid of opportunities. However, the data does bespeak of the need for more fathers in the home who are involved in their child’s life.
4) Secondary Education
According to the US Department of Education, “Nearly half of the nation’s African American students attend high schools in low-income areas with dropout rates that hover in the 40-50% range.” “Dropout factories” (i.e., high schools that routinely have senior classes with 60% fewer students than their entering freshmen classes) are estimated to produce 73% of African American, 66% of Latino, and 34% of White dropouts, respectively.
5) Higher Education
According to a relatively recent graduation rate report from the Education Sector, an independent think tank, “Fewer than half of the black students who enroll in college graduate from four-year institutions within six years. Nationally, the average six-year graduation rate for all students is 57 percent.” Moreover, a 2009 Associated Press analysis of government data on the 83 federally designated four-year HBCUs indicated that only 37 percent of their black students finish a degree within six years, which is 4 percentage points lower than the national college graduation rate for black students.
6) Incarceration and Crime
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “The racial composition of the US prison and jail population as of 2008 was 60.21% (African American (non-Hispanic), 20.29% Hispanic, 13.44% White American (non-Hispanic) , and 6.06% Other (American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander American, and Multiracial American).” Relative to black on black crime, the most recent government statistics indicated that “43% of all murder victims in 2007 were African American, 93.1% of whom were killed were African Americans.”
According to recent US Census Bureau data, “24.7% of all African-American live in poverty in comparison to 8.6% of all non-Hispanic White, 11.8% of all Asian-American and 23.2% of all Hispanic.” The Labor Department statistics still show the current unemployment rate among blacks hovering around 16 percent, although the economy as a whole has shown some improvement.
8) Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke
According to the US Centers for Disease Control Health Disparities and Inequalities Report (Jan. 2011), “Black women and men have much higher coronary heart disease (CHD) death rates in the 45–74 age group than women and men of other races. A higher percentage of black women (37.9%) than white women (19.4%) died before age 75 as a result of CHD, as did black men (61.5%) compared with white men (41.5%). And, a higher percentage of black women (39%) died of stroke before age 75 compared with white women (17.3%) as did black men (60.7%) compared to white men (31.1%).
Source: Atlanta post