Last weekend I was invited to a forum focusing on the Spiritual, Educational, Economic, and Health issues facing African American men today. Well over 200 black men showed up to discuss the challenges we face.
We had guest speakers from the 100 Black Men of Memphis, The Shelby County Democratic Party, Mid South Interfaith, and United School of Survival.
Being an African American male, unless you are one, it is hard to describe. It is a mixture of pride, frustration, hope and anger. Every day I see great accomplishments by my people. How we were able to survive through all the injustice and tribulations is nothing short of a miracle. We have much to celebrate, but we have problems:
- 32% of black males born in 2001 can expect to spend time in prison over the course of their lifetime.
- Black men live 7.1 years less than other racial groups.
- 44% of black men are considered overweight, 24% are obese.
- African-American men are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as white males while earning 74% as much per year. Unemployment for black men was 9.5 percent, as compared to 4 percent for white men.
I'll stop here. You've heard these alarming numbers before. “Empowering black men to reach their full potential is the most serious economic and civil rights challenge we face today,” said Marc H. Morial, the Urban League president, adding that is necessary, not just for blacks, but for the entire American family.
The forum didn't break any new ground or solve all our problems but what it did do was to inspire us for one more day. In these difficult times that's not bad.