Gregory Kane | Examiner Columnist
November 14, 2010
It could be called "black America's gender crisis," if indeed anybody acknowledged it as a crisis. But most black misleaders refuse to acknowledge it at all.
Last week, the Web site blackamericaweb.com released a story entitled "Report Offers Dismal Stats on Black Boys." The first two paragraphs pretty much sum up the problem:
"A report released this week on academic performance offered disturbing news for black males. Regardless of socio-economic status, black males tend to perform more poorly than whites.
"Among the most disheartening news in the study released by the Council of the Great City Schools was that black males who are not poor do no better than poor white males or white males with a disability."
On the Web site for the Council of Great City Schools is the organization's own press release, which uses language more dire than the blackamericaweb.com story:
"New Report on Black Male Achievement in America Reveals 'National Catastrophe,' " reads the headline. In the body of the story, there is this foreboding quote: "Black males continue to perform lower than their peers throughout the country on almost every indicator."
Now that the problem has been defined, we can talk about the particulars. Anybody notice the gender question? We're not talking about black girls underachieving, or black girls having a crisis when it comes to education.
We're talking about black boys. That means the girls are achieving, and the boys aren't. That means black America's old, reliable whipping boy -- white racism -- might not be solely to blame for this crisis. And a crisis it is.
What we have here is a failure to communicate about the Great African-American gender crisis. (My apologies to Donn Pearce and Frank Pierson, the screenwriters for the film "Cool Hand Luke".)
It's our nasty little secret, the dirty laundry we don't want washed in public. If, indeed, white racism, specifically institutional white racism, were the cause of black academic underachievement, we would expect it to affect black girls and black boys in equal, or near equal, measure.
Three years ago, I talked to a group of academic superstars at Overlea High School, a racially diverse institution in Baltimore County. One of the school's administrators told me who comprised the subgroup of highest academically achieving students. Was it Asian-Americans?
No, the highest achievers at Overlea High School were black. Black girls must be doing something right, academically, that black boys haven't caught on to yet. Our misleaders either can't or won't see that, which is why reports like the one issued last week won't get them to stop their rants about "institutional racism" or to acknowledge that their own rhetoric reveals a gender, not a racial, disparity.
There are more black men in prison and jail than in college, some black talking heads like to point out. The claim is false: For the 18-to-24 age group, the ages when black men should be in college, the numbers of black males in institutions of higher learning outnumber those in prison by 4 to 1. But even those who lament about "all those black men in prison" fail to realize one thing:
Have they noticed we never talk about "all those black women in prison"? Yes, the numbers of black women in prisons have been rising, but they haven't reached nearly the numbers or percentages of black men yet.
There's a gender crisis in black America. If we want to let our black boys know what they're doing wrong, we should tell them to look at black girls to see what they're doing right.
Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.