Where did all the Black men go? Analysis of population data shows so many Black males have gone to prison, died of disease of accidents, or by violence, that Black females in many communities outnumber Black men by ratios of 6 to 10. A national policy of mass Black incarceration is the primary factor – a factual basis for a
On Monday, the New York Times wrote a deeply upsetting piece titled, “1.5 Million Missing Black Men.”
According to the Times, “Black women who are 25 to 54 and not in jail outnumber black men in that category by 1.5 million. …For every 100 black women in this age group living outside of jail, there are only 83 black men. Among whites, the equivalent number is 99.”
The primary reasons the 1.5 million men are missing from their communities is because they are behind bars or because of early death, the story noted.
The number are shocking and offensive. The Times states, “One out of 6 black men who today should be between 25 and 54 years have disappeared from daily life.”
While the article makes clear that incarceration is a major reason for so many African Americans are removed from their communities, they don’t identify the role of the war on drugs in mass incarceration. Roughly 500,000 of the 2.4 million people behind bars are there for a drug offense. America is the number one jailer in the planet, with under five percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.
And it may not surprise you that there are gross racial disparities in when it comes to who ends up behind bars for drugs. According to Human Rights Watch, African Americans go to jail or prison 10 times the rate of Whites, despite similar drug use.
There is some sick hypocrisy in our country.
Despite a $40 billion a year “war on drugs” and political speeches about a “drug-free society,” our society is swimming in drugs. Every day millions use cigarettes, sugar, alcohol, marijuana, Prozac, Ritalin, Viagra, steroids, cocaine and caffeine to get themselves through the day. There are drugs on every Ivy League campus in this country and drugs are flowing on Wall Street. The vast majority of Americans use drugs on a regular basis.
While it is clear that drug use doesn’t discriminate, the reality is that the war on drug users does discriminate. The ACLU found racial disparities in every single state in the country, with blacks getting arrested for marijuana from three to 10 times the rates of Whites.
From New York to Ferguson, and all across the country we see law enforcement target people of color. Thanks to stop and frisks and racial profiling, blacks are ticketed and arrested at outrageous rates for doing the exact same thing whites do.
The “1.5 Million Missing Black Men” needs to be a wake-up call. We can not allow one out of 6 black men to go missing. And ending the war on drugs is an important, concrete step to addressing this.
Tony Newman is the director of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance (www.drugpolicy.org)
“The war of attrition is a race war.”
Black life in America does not start out with these bizarre imbalances between the sexes. There is no gender gap among Blacks in childhood. Roughly the same number of boys and girls are born, and the ratio stays stable until the teenage years, when the war of attrition begins mercilessly grinding down the numbers of Black males. How else is this phenomenon to be described except as a war, in which 600,000 are held captive during their most productive years, 200,000 are killed by violence, and most of the rest go to early graves from accidents and diseases that cause far lower casualties among whites.
The data show that U.S. society has become much more toxic for Black men during the very period in which Blacks were supposedly making such fantastic “progress.” The numbers show that the missing-Black-men phenomenon “began growing in the middle decades of the 20th century.” The increasing ratio of Black women to men is primarily a product of the age of mass Black incarceration. The war of attrition is a race war deliberately and methodically initiated by the U.S. government, the effects of which have been devastating to Black society on the most fundamental level: stunting the formation of Black families and the Black American group as a whole by physically removing and eliminating the men.
The data support a totally plausible, factually grounded charge of genocide, based on international law. The U.S. government, through its mass Black incarceration policies of the last half century, has been guilty of a) “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,” as well as b) “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.”
The facts bear witness to the indictment. So do 1.5 million missing Black men.