Monday, September 24, 2007

Are There Really More Black Men In Jail Than Yale!?!?

In last week's post on Non-Urban Dictates and other B.S. I attempted to correct some commonly regurgitated misinformation. This weekend, watching more Jena 6 recaps, and other random crap on cable news, I heard the following saying about 400 times.

"There are more black men in jail than college."

It was spouted by Jesse Jackson, DL Hughley, and countless white commentators when discussing the societal ills of black America, post-Jena Six.

For the umpteenth time, can we please correct this misconception.

There are NOT more black men in jail than college!!!!!
There are NOT more black men in jail than college!!!!!
There are NOT more black men in jail than college!!!!!
There are NOT more black men in jail than college!!!!!
There are NOT more black men in jail than college!!!!!

Period. Just check the stats.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics' publication "Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2000" does indeed estimate 791,600 African Americans in prison or jail at that time. However, the figures for African-American college enrollment, derived from the National Center for Education Statistics, look very different from the figures issued by the Census Bureau, which are used in the official government "data book," the Statistical Abstract. Those figures show a total of 804,000 African-American males over the age of 17 enrolled in college in October 2000.
If you don't believe the statistics (and I wouldn't blame you, this being the gubb'ment and all), go dig them up for yourself. The 2005 statistics, quoted in this article confirm that the trend continues today, but I can't find any reliable data to back this up.

Even if there were more black men behind bars than in college, you have to really think about the numbers. Just how old is your typical college student? I know some folks continue education later in life, and many are in graduate schools well into their 30's, but typically people attend college between the ages of 18-24. Prison? Not so much? You can catch a charge at damn near any point in your life. So, comparing a relatively small sample (18-24) versus a large one (16-Infinity) is misleading anyway. Stats 101 would tell you this.

How did this silly rumor get spread in the first place? Maybe it's just another Grand Hu$tle by The Man to make us think less of ourselves. Maybe this was true at some point in the past. Or, just maybe, it's yet another example of how we as a people don't bother fact checking or confirming the source of things we hear before we regurgitate them on to the next person. Heck, some people probably think Tupac is still alive. Is there no hope for us!!?

Let's start celebrating the good things about our people, specifically black men, who pretty much get a knee to the groin by society (and themselves) every day.

And the next time you hear somebody rattle off that B.S., be sure to correct them.

Behind Books, Not Bars [TCS Daily]

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