I Refuse To Give Up On Black Men

February 28, 2018  |  

Percy Bell
Photo: Dieter Spears | Inhaus Creative

Turn your television to any given news station and it won’t be long before you see another Black man being racially profiled, brutally attacked at the hands of the police, or possibly even found dead. As history has shown us, the Black male experience has always been a difficult one.

While we’ve progressed throughout the years as a nation and great strides have been made in many areas, when it comes to how the Black man is viewed in society, not much has changed. Black men are collecting college degrees, creating businesses, and have even been president (we miss you Obama), and yet that doesn’t seem to change the generally negative perception of African American males. We live in a world that has publicly neglected, disrespected and given up on the Black man for centuries, and as a Black woman I refuse to be apart of that. As a double minority, I have first-hand experience as to how cruel and unfair this world can be. And witnessing how my Black brothers are just as poorly treated has created an unspoken loyalty to and understanding of them.  

Let’s face it, America has long failed and given up on the Black man and from the looks of things, is pretty unapologetic about it. As early as the childhood education system, we see the neglect shown to the well-being of our Black boys. If education lays the foundation for one’s future, what happens when yours is weak?

Studies show young Black boys are more likely than any other racial group to be placed in special education. And this placement is not based solely on academic competence, but rather other factors such as behavioral and social issues and an overall lack of understanding. It’s no coincidence that 80 percent of all special education students are either Black or Hispanic. The education system is basically saying let’s give up on these students because we don’t understand them, and it’s much easier to label them as developmentally delayed than to provide them with the teaching methods and patience needed and deserved.

But the labeling doesn’t stop there. “Black boys account for 20 percent of U.S. students labeled as mentally retarded, even though they represent just 9 percent of the population,” The Edvocate pointed out. Such classifications can be devastating, discouraging Black boys from finishing school and completely removing the possibility of pursuing a college degree from their minds altogether.

Think about it, you’re a Black boy, treated unfairly at a young age, misunderstood, given harsh punishments for minor offenses, possibly suspended or expelled (because Black boys are 2.5 times more likely to be suspended from school as white students), and then what? Then you’re expected to go out and prosper normally in a world that has clearly given up on you and has made little to no effort to try to understand you?

Let’s not forget when you enter the “real world” as an adult you’re told things like, be careful because Americans fear Black men; you read shocking statistics like 1 in every 3 Black males will go to prison at some point in their lifetimeand watch the depressing realities of police killings of innocent Black men on any given news station.

These statistics and opinions have lasting effects on the mental state of Black men. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, African Americans are 20 percent more likely to face problems with mental illness than their counterparts. Those numbers are even higher for Black men in particular, solely because they are also more prone to face unemployment and exposure to violence, which happen to be leading factors for mental illness. It’s no coincidence that suicide rates have doubled in the past few decades, now making suicide the third leading cause of death for young Black men ages 15-24. Being that the Black community often shuns the idea of seeking professional help when dealing with mental issues, many internal problems go unresolved, perpetuating unhealthy behavior.

I say all this to say giving up on Black men is simply not an option. Let alone not a solution. If we’ve learned anything in the last few centuries it’s that it’s hard to be Black in America, and as a Black woman I can certainly attest to this. I also understand just how difficult being a Black man is as well. While everyone should be held accountable for their actions, it’s important to understand the unfair cards Black men have been dealt before we throw in the towel altogether. 

That being said, I can only expect the same support and loyalty from Black men to Black women. Society has failed all of us and attempted to ensure our demise since the beginning of time. I can’t, in good conscience, be apart of the destruction of our Black community and our Black men. So I refuse to give up on Black men and I don’t care what anyone thinks about it.

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