The mainstream press has run so many news stories about the pathological sociology and psychology of African- American males recently that it’s about time to start talking about Failing Black Men Syndrome, analogous to the well-known Missing White Woman Syndrome. The latest entry spotlights a new report by the Task Force on the Education of Maryland’s African-American Males that suggests several solutions, including placing troubled young black men into single-sex classes at majority-black schools, allowing nonviolent ex-cons to be mentors, and encouraging more black men to become teachers. On the one hand, I’m a little unsettled by the prospect of being studied anthropologically as part of a “problem group,” and I worry about these media prophecies fulfilling themselves on the job and in the classroom. On the other hand, the stats are pretty clear that my demographic group is suffering a disproportionate share of the nation’s worst social outcomes: incarceration, police brutality, high dropout rates, low college attendance rates, unemployment, etc. There’s definitely a problem out there and I don’t think the media is making it up.
But my major question is: what are the root causes of FBMS? Why is it that these social pathologies weigh so much more heavily on black males than females? While the latter group hasn’t exactly caught up with whites, they are doing significantly better than their brothers. What do y’all think? Is it the media? Some aspect of culture? Lack of strong father figures? What do you think is the most important factor contributing to this crisis?