Only 24 percent of black men have college degrees and 38 percent have high school diplomas as their highest qualification. Men are twice as likely as women to not have any academic qualifications.
During a meeting at the Hamilton Rotary Club yesterday, founder and former executive director of the Family Center and CEO director of Catalyst Consulting Martha Dismont revealed these, and many more, alarming statistics surrounding young black men in Bermuda.
According to research conducted by Catalyst Consulting and Global Research, black males make up only 26 percent of working professionals on the island, compared with 58 percent white males and 60 percent of white females.
“ The disadvantages faced by young black males are very well-documented and are believed to result from a legacy of intergenerational trauma dating back to Slavery and a lack of access to resources and opportunities,” Ms. Dismont explained.
“ Among blacks, black males are believed to be the most disadvantaged group because they are uniquely stigmatized by society and associated with negative stereotypes.”
A series of studies suggest that five factors may contribute to the unique challenges that face black males.
They are negative stereotyping, a negative home or community environment, a lack of support from teachers, parents and other role models, a lack of education and a lack of interest in more prevalent and higher-paying jobs in Bermuda.
“ Perhaps the strongest correlation of the unique challenges fencing disadvantaged black males in Bermuda is incarceration,” Ms. Dismont said. “ Black males aged 18 to 34 are far more likely than their same-aged peers to be incarcerated . . . 98 percent of those incarcerated [in Bermuda] are black males, 25 percent of those incarcerated are serving life sentences. Of that number, 37 percent are aged 18 to 30 years old.”
Despite some progress being made within the last decade or so, Ms. Dismont does not believe that it is good enough.
“ The lack of intentional education, life skills and job preparedness for young men are the culprits that we have been looking for for a long time, the culprits who are throwing babies into rough waters,” Ms. Dismont said. “ We are spending time and resources pulling babies out of the water instead of going upstream and beginning to do the serious prevention that is needed.”
She does not believe that the situation with young black men on the island will improve unless there is a real and concerted effort by the whole community to try and reverse the aforementioned statistics.
“ We can all imagine that no change can occur without real leadership in this area,” she said. “ We may not like it, but we must admit that a change in mindset must occur where we demonstrate a compassionate understanding of the circumstances which have brought young men to the state in which they have found themselves. There must also be proportionate consequences and proper social justice instead of sweeping up every male who looks like a perpetrator.”
In Ms. Dismont’s opinion, the island has given these issues directly facing black men 10 percent of their attention, when they are taking so much more from the community in terms of lawyers’ fees, police services, family services, etc.
“ We must give these aforementioned issues our undivided collective attention instead of working in these inefficient silos,” she said.
Photo courtesy of The RG
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