How America has Failed African-American Youth, by the Numbers

At age 25, 7.5 percent of whites are high school dropouts.

At age 25, 14.4 percent of African-Americans are high school dropouts

High School Dropouts

By age 25, 30% of whites have earned a college Bachelor of Arts degree. About 14% of African-Americans have:


Some 22 percent of American children under 18 live in households below the poverty line.

About 12% of white children live in poverty.

About 40% of Black children live in poverty:

By some measures, African-American youth unemployment is 42%

Graph: Youth unemployment by age and race:

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Responses | Print |

14 Responses

  1. about kids living in poverty –
    do you have data on how many were born to unmarried women ?

    • “about kids living in poverty – do you have data on how many were born to unmarried women?”

      You have hit on an important point, Brian, but one that, unfortunately, is considered taboo in certain circles. Study after study has shown that kids who are born in, and grow up with, two-parent families are far less likely to face poverty and lack of education than kids who are born to single mothers and grow up without a father in the household. This is not a value judgment; it is a fact.

      Daniel Patrick Moynihan first brought this problem to national attention in 1965 with his seminal report, “The Negro Family: The Case For National Action.” Moynihan’s report focused on the deep roots of black poverty in America and concluded that the relative absence of nuclear families (those having both a father and mother present) would greatly hinder further progress toward economic and political equality. Needless to say, Moynihan has been proven correct by many subsequent studies. At the time, however, he was attacked by those who charged him with taking the focus off society’s failings and instead focusing on social pathologies within the black community.

      • I agree.

        Something like 80% of all prison inmates in the U.S. are the product of a broken home.

        A cohesive and nurturing family structure for a child is undoubtedly a key determinant on whether or not the child develops an anti-social personality.

    • I’m confused. Do you mean black women or white women or Asian women or military women or Muslim women or gay women or raped women or women who divorced their husbands while in prison, or Republican Women or only women without doctorates that live more than 200 miles outside the Beltway and have never accepted so much as a single sperm gift from a current or former member of Congress, Congressional aide, military officer, corporate lobbyist, or state governor? Who did I miss? Including virgins? Lady Madonna?

      But, great idea! Could bring back chastity belts and eunuchs. But no birth control, heavens no. And DEFINITELY no health care! Losers.

    • Look it up for yourself. Here’s one link: link to

      Or you can just go the Heritage Foundation’s web site, or Ralphie Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition site,, for further reinforcement.

      On the other hand, as far as I can see, there is NO “AMERICA” any more, if there ever was such a hypostatisation, to “fail” to address the lot and prospects and nature of black youth, which “failure” and its sequalae is just one pretty small but presently news-cycle-centric bit of what is so very wrong with our species and our particular “nation.”

      You got a school system increasingly dumbed down and loaded with idiot lesson plans and irrelevant “testing” intended to sell a cattle mentality, a “Christian-centric” viewpoint, and help the switch to privatized rip-off-the-public schools. You got the undeniable prison industrial complex, fed by the corrupt “war on drugs” and look-away prosecutors and judges who happily build stats by moving puny possession cases through the system.

      You got legislatures stacked with Gerry Mander and Cotton Mather and ever more apartheid hypocrites, tightening the noose every session. You got an “economy” that sees blacks (and the rest of us) as malleable idiots who will yet work for coolie wages under a business model that is more work from fewer people for less pay, every day, or at least suckering us to dump our little income, however derived, into lottery tickets and Rent-A-Spinner-Rims. You got the part of “the arts” that is happy to take ticket and album and merchandise money to paint lipstick on gangsta behavior, and glorify “bad dudes” who “succeed” in managing the illicit drug trade that largely exists due to Rich White Folk hypocrisy. You got black “prosperity preachers” magnetizing the suckers 24/7.

      And the principal selling themes for our whole culture are SEX and DEATH, and of course MORE MONEY. Pretty straight Freud, if you think about it. And of course you have the thing we reify as “Wall Street,” always circling, circling, ripping off states and municipalities through fraudulent bond issues and pension “management” fees and self-dealing on enormous scale. And the incredible sickness that has white folks on the way down busily voting for and dangling their tea bags for the very people who are ripping them off, I guess thinking that if they can only hate and abuse the Other enough, that will stop their own stupid slide into Jerry Springer demise as stupid hosts to a huge body burden of tumors and parasites.

      In sum, a bunch of disparate, mutually destructive parts loosely flying in a formation that’s shaped like the made-in-Vietnam American Flag-motif underpants I saw in a recent fourth-class catalog in the trash at the local post office.

      Good luck with all that, which just overwhelms the little local good-will efforts of the few of your Fellow Americans that are trying to keep the whole thing from crashing into the seawall… And of course the supra-national corporations and Serous Geopoliticians are busily bleeding the planet and the rest of us all the while…

  2. Add to this the prison populations by race and compare that to the general population. Then add second-grade illiteracy rates (what builders of prisons use to gauge how many prisons they’ll be building in the future). I mourn for the death of a boy who was carrying Skittles just as I mourn for those who are unjustly sitting in a jail cell. Who will be their voice?

  3. How do we change the culture? Millionaire rap artists singing about poppin’ caps in blankers and the lyrics that dehumanize women, etc. Trying to get a job wearing pants around your ankles is also a really bad idea.

  4. Thanks for these graphs! I can’t help but note that Hispanics aren’t doing too well, either…

  5. Over half of young black Americans are either incarcerated, free on bond, or on probation or parole under criminal proceedings.

    There is a cycle of poverty and lack of education which is self-perpetuating.

    The military service option for many young poor blacks and Hispanics is a way toward education and steady gainful employment. Approximately 26% of the U.S. Marine Corps personnel are Hispanic-Americans.

    • Yes, but black enrollment in the Army collapsed after Bush invaded Iraq. Blacks learned their lesson from Vietnam. They refused to aid the leader of their enemies in his hour of greed. You don’t need JT McPhee to figure out that oppressing minorities to pressure them into joining your imperial military perpetuates another evil cycle that leads to societal collapse.

    • Mark, “enlistment” (it’s not “enrollment,” as used below, and certainly not “matriculation”) in the military is not “service,” except maybe in the very tiny bit of military activity that actually, you know, “protects the nation” as the person in the street would understand the phrase. Go spend some time at, at any of the veterans-for-peace sites, and in the publicly available War Department and contractor materials. It’s all about wealth transfer and career paths and domination, and the “fun” of “lighting up some bug splat.”

      As to “service” being a “way toward education and steady gainful employment,” you got any idea what the unemployment stats are for ex-GIs? Homelessness? Mental and physical disabilities? irrespective of race or ethnicity? And there is not a lot of transfer of your military education, which for the ranks is pretty sketchy, when the skills are calling in and directing artillery and air strikes, responding to ambushes that your Brass has sent you out to trigger, taking your pills, recovering from subclinical brain injuries, cleaning your weapon, stealing government equipment, repairing tanks and attack helicopters, and killing Wogs because they are trying to kill you because you are trying to kill them, in their homeland. It’s no “service” to the nation to keep a large standing military, which develops lobbies and interests that are inimical to “democracy” and even to the survival of the nation and the species.

      Some employers like the trained: Blackwater and similar, police, stuff like that. Not much of that, or of the carrying out of Imperial marching orders, is doing a damn thing to “protect our Great Nation,” which is effectively nothing but a source of replacement body parts and rents for the very few, who themselves have ZERO loyalty to “the nation,” but are happy to foster and play on the loyalties of the rest of us.

      And you got the cognitive dissonance, as a GI or Gyrene, of taking an oath to “support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” when your CinC holds that the Constitution is a dead letter and the opportunities of the moment obliterate all that high language about rights and limits and all that. And then you have to sit through “indoctrination” sessions so patently propaganda for the Empire and Christianist world view that the smartest have to laugh and the weakest have their prejudices reinforced. So you have ex-GIs and many still “in the service” going to Occupy gatherings and protests against the Forever War, to instruct the police in the content of the Constitution, and getting shot in the head and beaten and gassed for their pains. And maybe there’s some who remember the treatment accorded the Bonus Marchers, after another imperial war… and the Grand Networked Idiot Interoperable Battlespace War Managers are doing their damndest to dispense with rank-and-file anyway, in favor of better-behaved hardware, and are paying contractors 10 times what GIs get to do the jobs that might actually have some “transfer benefits.”

      The assumption that “our majority culture” is Right and Worthy and part of some pleasant, upwardly mobile monad, and that “black culture” is pathological, ignores the real makeup of our political economy, which is based on consumptive Imperialism and concentration of wealth and beggaring and enserfment of the people who actually do the work that creates the wealth that the military and cops and private security (like the Kochs have) are actually “protecting.”

      This whole thread and comments pretty aptly capture the Narrative version of Current Events, from the limited perspective of the privileged, looking down and saying to each other “what blacks are,” as if the horrors happening beneath their perches are sui generis, unrelated to anything they profit from and “not their problem,” except as an exercise in sanitation and furtherance of their privileges. News note: All “those people” are individuals, acting as advertising and propaganda and “schooling” teach them to act, with the constant reinforcement of certain behaviors. Lots of smart people of good will have offered better diagnoses of what’s wrong, and prescriptions for how to cure, ameliorate, or at least palliate the problems. There’s no money in those approaches, ask Corrections Corporation of America how that works, and breaking down the status walls and fairing up the structures and behaviors that impel people toward comity, rather than anomie (the libertarian ideal) has no lobby to press for that kind of Change. More and more for fewer and fewer, screw the consequences to others, “Apres moi le deluge.”

      And far as I can see, there’s no fixing it, not even any significant interest in trying to fix things, given the momentum and motivations in play.

  6. Hilarious that we whites justify vast gaps between ourselves and blacks when:

    a. business magazines (and GOP nutjobs) increasingly attack higher education as obsolete (and Communistic), because there are no safe careers out there under modern capitalism

    b. all these “black” pathologies are also at their highest rates in the overall population in the Republican-ruled states, which somehow have failed to solve any of them and yet imply that they can save America by putting blacks back in their place everywhere

    c. all those homeless, brain-damaged white veterans who thought they were improving their future when they volunteered

    We’re living in the Stanford Prison Experiment. All these supposed proofs of blacks deserving their oppression are exactly the phenomena you would see among the “prison” caste in that experiment; violence and despair, cynicism about the future, thrift, and hard work for the bosses.

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