Questioning the whole black males going to prison thing

I was reading another blog that was quoting a website commenting on a NYT article and I was hooked into reading it because with a title like “Most black men have not been involved in the criminal justice system and do not drop out of school….” You have to read it. Yet there wasn’t much substance, but it did get me thinking. Mainly about all my male relatives and the criminal justice system.
My dad, a troublemaker in his youth and half his adulthood, (and black man) as far as I know only went to jail once or twice. For a total of week. For… let’s just say traffic/driving violations. Being self-employed it was a minor blip. I had a cousin, was a NBA player (poor kid makes it, blah, blah, blah, you know the story) and he went to jail for failure to pay child support, for about 5 days. Beyond those two, of all the men in my family, I believe the majority of them have never seen the inside of a jail, and more than likely don’t know where the jail is. Prison? I’m going to have to call my mom, but I don’t think any of my uncles or cousins have been to prison, ever.
So now I’m questioning this whole ‘black men are more likely to go to be involved in the criminal justice system than go to college’ thing. My male relatives on mom’s side are all bourgie so they have been to college. There was no question about that. Dad’s side? They are stubborn hard headed men who are mainly self-employed, they would not succeed if they were not their own boss. They didn’t go to college, but it didn’t matter.
What does this have to do with Shaw? There was a link but I deleted it. Maybe in my original thinking was to chip at the thinking (which I sometimes fall into) that Black always equals poor or less than.

3 thoughts on “Questioning the whole black males going to prison thing”

  1. Mari,
    Have you ever read The Assimilated Negro’s blog? He’s got a very messed up story in there about when he was arrested for trying to return a movie at Blockbuster. He’s very funny (even when telling this story).
    I guess my point is that *sometimes* you can get a criminal record even without ever having broken a law. I’ve been harassed by cops for no reason before (NYC has a very fcuked up police force).

  2. hi, this is rudy at urbanonramps, saw your link… great to hear the details of some of the males in your family… i get so worked up about this because i’m close to many young black males (in my family, ministry, and neighborhood) and i don’t want them buying what “society” (don’t know what else to call it at this moment) says about black males, that it’s all bad news and that blacks are in the justice system, when my read of the studies is that the majority are not… this stuff is similar for Latinos, at least in my hood, because it’s easy to think that a lot of latino youth are in gangs, in and out of jail, baby momma or baby daddy, and again that’s not the majority case, but it gets all the ink… just a brief vent, but really to say, again, glad that you shared details about your family… it’s helpful to hear real-world details, not just abstract stats. RC

  3. Re:Black Men in America's Jails and Prisons

    Too many young black men continue to waste their precious lives in a state of neo bondage. As a correctional educator for the past several years, I can tell you that the prisons and jails in this great country are overflowing with young African-Americans (You already know). All of my students are young black men – one exception. As a teacher, it saddens me to see the talent that is wasted on a daily basis.

    We all need to start doing more to address this escalating dilemma. The youth of this country don't need to rot in jail, while we (Americans) ignore the problem. Something is causing this horrible trend to continue. You may ask yourself ”What can I do?”. There is no easy answer, but you need to do something. A few suggestions would be:

    organize sports functions (basketball leagues, football leagues, etc.)
    talk to kids at school
    write books
    contact government officials
    do volunteer work
    tutor kids
    take kids fishing, camping, etc.

    The point here is to start doing something. If we simply ignore the problem, where do you think we will be in 10 years pertaining to this issue?

    For my part, I have written a book aimed at helping young black men who are already incarcerated.

    The book is called:
    Black Choices, A young black man's guide to prison survival

    ISBN: 1-60813-727-9, 83 pages, 6 x 9,
    The book can be ordered through or by calling 301/695-1707
    This book can make a real difference to the young man who is incarcerated. It can help him to negotiate prison life more successfully and also start planning for what life brings after prison is over. If you have a loved one or friend in jail, consider sending him this most important book. I believe it will help his life to start getting back on the road to a more successful future. Any help getting the word out about this book will be greatly appreciated. I truly care about my students and the overall plight of too many young black men in America's correctional centers.



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