America’s Missing Black Men

One and a half million Black Men are missing. For nearly 50 years, census data has shown alarming statistics for cities throughout the United States that have had a dramatic disappearance of African-American males. A recent report by the New York Times targets three main reasons for the substantial disproportionate gap in genders in the African-American community.

missing-men-postThe New York Times report in a section called “The Upshot” (April 20, 2015). Staggering information regarding missing black men was chronicled. For example, in New York, almost 120,000 black men between the ages of 25 and 54 are missing from everyday life. In Chicago, 45,000 are, and more than 30,000 are missing in Philadelphia. Across the South — from North Charleston, S.C., through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi and up into Ferguson, Mo. — hundreds of thousands more are missing. In a closer look at Ferguson, Missouri, there are 40 missing black males for every 100 women.

Firstly, there’s money in weed. There used to be just jail time. A recent Washington Post article released the analysis of tax data from the Colorado Department of Revenue. Legal marijuana brought in $700 million.  The data shows that in 2014 that Colorado brought in $386 million from retail medical marijuana and another $313 million from recreational marijuana. The article didn’t mention how many people were in jail from criminal charges arising from the sale of marijuana before it became legal to sell. Reports have documented the incarceration rate of black men at a much higher rate rate than their white counterparts. The “War on Drugs” has alone decimated the numbers of black males in major cities around the country. Drug incarcerations are only one-third of the report.

Secondly, blacks are killing blacks. Over the past 35 years in America, an estimated 324,000 blacks have been killed at the hands of fellow blacks, “racist” white cops killing unarmed black men is a totally separate problem. This information is gathered from an analysis generated by the Washington Post. A November 2014 article by the Post recounts; 93% of black murder victims are killed by blacks. Most of these deaths are teenagers or black men under the age of 20.



Lastly, the Times covered the third most detrimental reason for gender disparity among African-American’s is the AIDS epidemic. Blacks make up just under 14% of the population in the United States but account for 46% of those that suffer with HIV and AIDS. That information is from a website by The Times report also recounts other health related death disparities. Black men also die of heart disease, respiratory disease and accidents more often that any other demographic group.

When you add those three factors. The African-American males in jail, those that have lost there lives prematurely by either criminal activity or through the horrible illness of AIDS and other illnesses, the new analysis by the New York Times figures that nearly 1.5 million black males are missing from society in comparison to their white counterpart. Black males are only 83% of the number of black females, at birth the numbers of men and women are the same, but slowly men leave the black community until they reach middle age. Contrast that with the 99% of white males matched with the number of white females. The gender gap doesn’t exist in childhood.

The report doesn’t correlate the missing men phenomenon with any particular event, or set or circumstances. Some say the “War on Drugs” has been a major factor. Others may believe that drug usage and the rise of AIDS related deaths that’s been dramatic in the black community. Some have argued how gang violence in major cities is a key contributing factor.

For blacks these statistics aren’t new. Living in a town or city that has high incarceration rates, high murder rates and high HIV/AIDS rates has had an extremely devastating effect on the family structure, local economics and the future of children in neighborhoods with few positive role models and fewer parents to raise children without government or outside assistance.  In fact every census for the past 50 years has shown this startling phenomenon.



Changing the problem isn’t easy. Not mentioned in the report is voter apathy, voter registration roles or persons with felony records not having their voting rights restored. That’s if change can happen, in part, at the ballot box. Also not mentioned is the “drop out rate”. Employment has increasing become tied to technology, and the ability for workers to acquire technical skills quickly and satisfy skills employers require.

One thing is for sure, the recent and seemingly constant cases of police brutality has brought to light the need for change. Changes that are focused only on law enforcement policies and procedures and not the underlying factors is only addressing part of the problem. The report published by the New York Times, doesn’t give suggestions of how to correct or even how to reverse the trends, the information isn’t enough. Releasing drug related non-violent offenders, requiring students stay in school until students are 18 instead of 16 as in many states may help. For example, the graduation rate in Maryland is 83% but Washington, D.C’s it’s 59% (Huffington Post April 2015)  how about restoring the right to vote for released felons, that’s a good start.

The million and a half men could have so many positive effects on the black community. Cynically believing the absence of black males is some kind of conspiracy is a hard not to consider. There’s been too many instances of police brutality with fatal consequences.

King, "can we all get along?"

King, “can we all get along?”






One Comment:

  1. We spend a lot of time over the past several decades worried about black women. We should have spent more time on our men and boys. They’re important too.

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