So the second Washington Post article on Black men is out (Thanks to Joy Princess for the Update). The article basically summarizes the findings of their survey, so I figured I would take issues mentioned in the article and elaborate on the sociological trends.
One of the first issues they discuss is the increasing suicide rate of Black men. The assertion that the suicide rate of Black men has increased is correct, but it should also be noted that the Black male suicide rate is still lower than the White male suicide rate. I also found this excellent article from National Public Radio’s News and Notes With Ed Gordon. It my estimation one of there are two factors that have allowed the suicide rate among Black men to escalate. First, is the increasing number of Black middle class families. These young men are more likely to commit suicide than their lower income peers. The second factor would be the notion that suicide is a “white thing,” which I have heard on numerous occasions. For a long time the suicide rate was much higher in Whites, but the gap has closed dramatically.
On Who’s to Blame for the Problems and Opportunities Facing Black Men
Six in 10 black men said their collective problems owe more to what they have failed to do themselves rather than “what white people have done to blacks.” At the same time, half reported they have been treated unfairly by the police, and a clear majority said the economic system is stacked against them.
Black men said they strongly believe in the American Dream — nine in 10 black men would tell their sons they can become anything they want to in life. But this vision of the future is laden with cautions and caveats: Two-thirds also would warn their sons that they will have to be better and work harder than whites for equal rewards.
Well I guess Bill Cosby needs to read this survey because the majority of Black men are placing the blame on themselves not Whites. But I agree with the general way the Washington Post has framed this problem. There is an interesting irony in that a high percentage of Black men report experiencing discrimination, yet they feel that Black men are to blame for the problems facing Black men. I think there probably is the “well I’m not that way, but other Black men are” attitude going on here. The optimism is also ironic. I get the sense that many of these guys are thinking there is racism, but they will be able to overcome any of it. On an individual level I think that is probably a good attitude, but at a societal level I think it is a bad attitude. Personally, it keeps people from getting down and allows them to maintain a can do ethic, but it doesn’t really challenge the racism that does affect these guys.
On Self Esteem
I was also really annoyed with this quote:
Sociologists and social psychologists say that black men’s poor view of themselves may have its roots in several factors. Movies, music, television and the news media are full of unflattering images of black men, they say.
The article fails to distinguish between self esteem and group esteem. Self esteem is how I feel about myself, and group esteem is how I feel about the group that I am a member of. For example, for me myself self esteem would be how I feel about Rachel, and my group esteem would be how I feel about a group I am a member of such as White women. As far as I can tell the study did not ask about self esteem, they asked about group esteem. When is comes self esteem, African Americans usually have higher self esteem than Whites (numerous studies have found this); on the other hand there are not many studies about group esteem, so I’m not sure about racial differences in group esteem. But Black people do not suffer from low self esteem as a collective.
On Worries and Respect
This part of the study was interesting. I don’t want to comment on it to as much because I think that there will probably be a more through analysis on some of these issues later. But for now here is a brief quote on some of the worries of Black men:
Among blacks with college degrees and household incomes of $75,000 a year or more, six in 10 said someone close to them had been murdered and six in 10 said a family member or close friend had been in jail or prison — similar to the reports of working-class, less-educated black men. Three in 10 have been physically threatened or attacked in their lives because of their race, again no different from less-advantaged black men.
If anything, the survey suggests that better-educated black men experience more direct racism than those with fewer resources. For example, 63 percent of educated, upper-middle-class black men said they have been unfairly stopped by police, compared with 47 percent of less-advantaged black men.
From the shared experiences and worries of black men have emerged a set of priorities that are very different from those of white America. Three in four black men said they highly value success on the job, fully 20 percentage points higher than white men. Black men also placed a far higher value on “being respected” by others, as well as standing up for their racial or ethnic group.
That’s all for now folks, please let me know when the next article comes out.