WASHINGTON—A batch of new studies suggesting that black males in the United States are falling ever further behind other groups in health, education and employment has ignited a debate within the black community about who is to blame and what can be done.
The rate of infection among black men was 103.5 per 100,000 individuals—around seven times that of white men and three times the rate among Latinos.
Black men live an average of 7.1 years less than other racial groups and experience disproportionately higher mortality in every single leading causes of death—a fact recently seized on by President Bush in a bid to win black support for his plan to partially privatize the Social Security retirement program.
Another recent study by the American Council on Education showed that twice as many black women as men now attend college. Over the past decade, the high school graduation rate for black men has fallen to 43 percent, while that of black women has risen to 56 percent.
“In a relative sense, we are not closing the gap between blacks and whites when you look at the rate of economic and educational progress,” said William Harvey of the Center for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity.
He blamed what he called “American bravado” and a “macho culture” that made education seem irrelevant to many black males and pushed them toward low-paying jobs, the military or the “undercover economy.”
A report in June for the Alternative Schools Network found that in 2002 one in every four black men in the United States was permanently unemployed, a rate double that of white men and 70 percent higher than among Asian and Hispanic men.