Congressman Launches Initiative to Address State of Black MalesRep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill., has launched a yearlong initiative to look into problems facing African American males across the country, in particular the barriers Black men convicted of drug offenses face in re-entering society.
The initiative will kick off with a weekend conference — “The State of the African American Male” — at the Library of Congress Nov. 14-15. The conference will focus on what is causing Black men to have a lower quality of life than the rest of society. It will address issues of poverty, unemployment, school dropout rates, health, violent crime and cultural factors influencing different behavior in Black boys and girls.
Davis, who represents west Chicago, stressed that all of the problems facing African American males are more concentrated in inner cities.
“In almost any community where you go where there are large concentrations of African Americans there is also a heavy concentration of poverty and all the problems that poverty breeds…” he says. “We need to reinvest in central city communities. There are some communities where Black people live in America that look like Iraq.”
A large percentage of African American males are unemployed, affecting their quality of life and that of their family. Davis also discussed the high percentage of Black males being taught in special education classes, and the way that boys and girls are raised with different expectations for their behavior.
In addition to the November conference, the congressman’s initiative will include some regional weekend conferences and a possible November 2004 report on the state of African American males, perhaps the net result of a commission that will look into the subject. The initiative will focus on gathering information about the plight of African American males and drawing on potential solutions from scholars and citizens in town-hall style meetings.
Davis made it clear that the conference will not produce just talk, but will also move people to act to improve their communities.
“If you can get people engaged in doing something, you’re not going to find solutions for them; they’re going to find solutions for themselves. People have to come up with what’s going to work in their neighborhoods,” Davis says, adding that the conferences will produce a body of knowledge that may be used to develop legislation or to develop government programs.
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