young black males

Nelson Chenault / The Clinton Foundation

The fatal shooting last year of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland police officer rocked the celebrated Chicago poet and publisher Haki Madhubuti.

He was so disturbed, he says, that he couldn't sleep and rose at 4:30 a.m. to write. What would become the book Taking Bullets: Black People in the 21st Century America Fighting Terrorism, Fighting Violence and Seeking Healing is now in galley form for final proofing. 

Photograph by Alex Wroblewski

The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has brought to national attention the obstacles that many young black males face - including racial profiling and a world where media portrayals of their peers are often less-than-flattering. Maureen McKinney took a look at the topic in Illinois. She joined Rachel Otwell for this interview: 

As many Illinoisans sing the praises of black men like Barack Obama, it's good to remember the thousands of African-American males whose splintered lives stand in sharp contrast to the high-achieving junior senator from Illinois. Stunted by low school attendance, widespread unemployment and disproportionate rates of incarceration, these men are frequent fixtures on street corners, idle, aimless and as disconnected from mainstream society as a dead cell phone.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

A decade after federal welfare reform began to move women with children from welfare to work, activists and scholars are turning a spotlight on the plight of America's young black men. 

While women have made some social and economic gains under policies designed to promote work and limit public assistance, young men are losing ground. Black men in particular. Studies released this summer show that, more than any other cohort, black males increasingly are disconnected from school and from work.