Nonsequitur: “The Crisis Among Black Men”

June 24, 2013

Joshua DuBois has an exceptional piece in Newsweek discussing the challenges facing black men in our society.  DuBois interviewed dozens of experts, social scientists, educators, political activists, writers and religious leaders to explore why millions of black men face chronic poverty, unemployment, incarceration and addiction.   His discussion is thoughtful, serious and, yes, a bit difficult to read.  As DuBois admits, “the reasons for this crisis are complex—as are the solutions.”  But it is well worth reading and thinking about the issues DuBois raises.

For me, the question isn’t whether or not the “War on Drugs” or “War on Poverty” have failed the African-American community.  The results clearly show they have.  The real question is what to do next.  How do we provide opportunity for change while ensuring responsibility for individual choices for black youth (and everyone else)?   Part of what DuBois is saying is that society must care for, and especially black men must care for, young boys growing up facing extreme barriers.  But that care must be visible and tangible to those in crisis.  If incarceration has failed to change patterns of poverty and crime, so has billions of dollars spent on social programs.  What we have done recently and in the past hasn’t really worked.  We need to try something else.

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