Positive Statistics about Black Men 2

Black Man Positive Stats

I wonder if I should even bother with this post.  After all, the Black men I know personally are positive people.  Not only does this include my husband, son, brother, brother-in-law, uncles (unfortunately deceased), my late step-father, and a host of cousins but also friends, colleagues,  acquaintances and strangers.

Still, the prevailing and loudly promoted media stereotypes of Black men as dysfunctional/dangerous/damaged makes me know that I have to do this post.  I/we must push positive images and information in the same ways the media promotes one-dimensional nonsense.

Derrick Z. Jackson, an award-winning columnist (who is a positive Black man himself) for the Boston Globe newspaper, had a column with tremendous graphic design (by Ben O’Brien) in the Sunday Globe on February 22 – I am a statistic. The column was written in response to the release of a powerful video, I am a Statistic, featuring Medford High School students debunking myths about young Black men.  Released by the Mystic Valley Area Branch NAACP, it is simple, short, elegant and very powerful.

Mr. Jackson’s column gave other statistics including:

  • 9 out of 10 young black adults ages 25 to 29 have completed high school or its equivalent – the same ratio as the national area.
  • There are 59% more black men in post-secondary education than jail.

We all know that there is much work needed to elevate the positive outcomes for more of our brothers, but they are already achieving more than the popular media proclaims.

The late poet, Sterling Brown, wrote this wonderful tribute to Black men in 1931.  It is a relevant today as it was when he wrote it.

STR0NG MEN

The strong men keep coming on.

                Sandburg

 They dragged you from homeland,

They chained you in coffles,

They huddled you spoon-fashion in filthy hatches,

They sold you to give a few gentlemen ease.

 

They broke you in like oxen,

They scourged you,

They branded you,

They made your women breeders,

They swelled your numbers with bastards. . . .

They taught you the religion they disgraced.

 

You sang:

Keep a-inchin’ along

Lak a po’ inch worm. . . .

 

You sang:

Bye and bye

I’m gonna lay down dis heaby load. . . .

 

You sang:

Walk togedder, chillen,

Dontcha git weary. . . .

 

The strong men keep a-comin’ on

The strong men git stronger.

 

They point with pride to the roads you built for them,

They ride in comfort over the rails you laid for them.

They put hammers in your hand

And said ⎯ Drive so much before sundown.

 

You sang:

Ain’t no hammah

In dis lan’,

Strikes lak mine, bebby,

Strikes lak mine.

 

They cooped you in their kitchens,

They penned you in their factories,

They gave you the jobs that they were too good for,

They tried to guarantee happiness to themselves

By shunting dirt and misery to you.

 

You sang:

Me an’ muh baby gonna shine, shine

Me an’ muh baby gonna shine.

 

The strong men keep a-comin’ on

The strong men git stronger. . . .

 

They bought off some of your leaders

You stumbled, as blind men will . . .

They coaxed you, unwontedly soft-voiced. . . .

You followed a way.

Then laughed as usual.

 

They heard the laugh and wondered;

Uncomfortable,

Unadmitting a deeper terror. . . .

 

The strong men keep a-comin’ on

Gittin’ stronger. . . .

 

What, from the slums

Where they have hemmed you,

What, from the tiny huts

They could not keep from you ⎯

What reaches them

Making them ill at ease, fearful?

Today they shout prohibition at you

“Thou shalt not this”

“Thou shalt not that”

“Reserved for whites only”

You laugh.

 

One thing they cannot prohibit ⎯

The strong men . . . coming on

The strong men gittin’ stronger.

Strong men. . . .

Stronger. . . .

 

(From National Humanities Foundation. Originally published in The Book of American Negro Poetry, ed. James Weldon Johnson later published in Southern Road [Brown’s first book of poems]. 1 –  Carl Sandburg (1878-1967): white American poet; lines from “Upstream,” in Slabs of the Sunburnt West, 1922. )

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If you like this post, you might also like:

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Will This Keep My Grandson Safe?

 

 

 

 


About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.


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2 thoughts on “Positive Statistics about Black Men

  • JB GATLING

    I really enjoyed this post and I am glad that Candelaria chose to resolve her initial doubts by writing it.

    The blog is part of a growing trend to get the facts out and to help us all to stop relying on rumor, bad facts, and gut feel. Writers of color are leading this trend.

    The 1931 poem by Sterling Brown was remarkable when one considers the era and the challenges. It was an inspiration.

    It inspires that we must get to work and stop complaining–given the many opportunities that we enjoy today compared to back then.