The black male: not-so-benign neglect
The only group that can expea to live shorter lives in 1990 than in 1980 is black men 32 Why? For starters, it is black men who experience the greatest gap between the Stage I expectation to survive by being a physical slave and the Stage II need to be a master of technology. Thus the black male now lives nine years fewer than the black female.33 Nevertheless, we hear more about the double jeopardy of racism and sexism encountered by the black female.
More black males in the United States are in the prison system than are in the college system.34 That is, an incredible one out of four black males is either in jail, prison, on probation, or on parole.35 That’s almost SO percent greater than the number in college 36 This does not even come close to being true of black women. If it were, imagine the number of job training, education, and rehabilitation programs wed be sponsoring for black women. The black male does not face double jeopardy, he faces quadruple jeopardy: racism, sexism, antagonism, and neglect
For different reasons, few whites or blacks are willing even to discuss how the use of the black male as a field slave required a greater dependency on physical strength for most black men than it did for most black women – and that it is physical strength that current technology makes increasingly irrelevant. Similarly, when white females or males worked hard, their families benefited. But when black females or males worked hard, someone else benefited. So for the white person, hard work meant survival; for the black slave, hard work meant the survival of someone else – at the expense of self. Our unwillingness to discuss this has prevented us from developing affirmative-action programs encouraging, for example black father-black son businesses (rather than giving the black mother money to keep the father away from the son).
The black man is sometimes called an endangered species but receives little of the protection an endangered species is normally accorded. In regions where the owl is endangered, we wouldn’t think of depriving the male owl of its children or the owl’s children of their dad. Yet the U. S. government has a huge program that creates exactly that outcome for the male human who is poor, and especially for the male human who is black and poor. It is called Aid to Families with Dependent Children; it deprives a family of aid if the dad is present, thus depriving the father of the two most important incentives for living: love and feeling needed.