Hood-Winked


By Janks Morton

One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him. – Booker T. Washington

For over four-hundred years, the majority white society has used many tools to reinforce a message that the peoples of African descent are less-than, not-equal-too or not-good enough. In this modern era of information, the media, government and special interests use statistics to further promote the message of Black inferiority. What troubles me most, is that we as a people have internalized the misinformation, embraced the myths, and perpetuated the stereotypes, sadly reinforcing a collective misperception of our own identities.

Travel to any Black-owned barbershop or beauty salon on a Saturday afternoon, and you will hear some of the most outlandish, unsubstantiated and unverifiable (statistical) claims about the state of today’s African-American Male. I sit in barber chairs across this country and hear “you know half of em’ been locked up, most of em’ dropped out of high school, and all of em’ are marrying white women.” I sit mostly in silence, because the truth about the great economic and educational strides of today’s Black Male usually starts an emotional and fiery debate. And mostly, the barbershop is a place where truth, statistics and evidence gets trumped by whoever shouts the loudest.

If I can give Black America one teachable lesson, it would be this “Never trust a man (or woman) who quotes a statistic that ends in either a five or a zero.” “25% of this, 50% of that, 75% of these” are usually opinion or conjecture, and seldom if ever valid. Fives and zeros are the numbers of men and are usually flawed (look at your fingers).

This “fives-and-zeros” rule is what led me to my initial research into carving out positive statistics about African-Americans in 2005. Former NPR correspondent Juan Williams in a debate with Dr. Michael Eric Dyson blurted out a statistic that 70% of African-American children were being born out-of-wedlock. Of course I cried foul, and headed to the census.gov to fact-check Mr. William’s claim.  That initial research is what has motivated me to look for positive data about Blacks, and attempt to offset the constant negative messaging etched into our minds. Be it graduation rates, enrollment rates, income or social data, I believe that in our hearts, we all need to hear more “good news” about Blacks in this country.

My research gave me insights as to how 21st century “information overload” can lead to all types of statistical confusion. Too often in our discourse we combine the economic, the educational, employment and social statistics to form a distorted perception of the modern-era African-American experience. Couple that with the constant bombardment by news outlets and entertainment media of the less-than-desirable Black behaviors; consequently you have a people who are ill equipped to stand confident in their own achievements.

Here’s a quick test of how we perceive ourselves – Excluding Athletics, Entertainment or Religion, name a positive stereotype about African Americans. I’ll wait…

Most African-Americans have a challenging, if not impossible time summarizing our collective experience into one positive statement of group-worth. Sadly if I were to ask you the same question about other racial groups, you would rattle off quickly “smart,” “hard-working,” “and “good with money.” This is a testament to how we have allowed Black identity to be twisted and maligned, while also adopting this societal defamation of character as our own belief set.

So with that, I believe that it is absolutely necessary for another message to be forwarded about what is means to be Black in America. WE can no longer depend on any organization, any government or any media outlet to shine the positive light of who WE are. WE can no longer afford to define ourselves by our shortcomings. WE have got to shout confidently, that WE are much more than the incarcerated, the uneducated, or the prime time buffoon.

My final challenge to you, as a Black American, would be this. If XYZ actor gets caught cheating on their spouse, you head right to the local internet search engine to fact-check the story. The Internet has become the great equalizer in this struggle, and your government has made most data freely accessible. The next time you hear any data or statistics about Blacks, anywhere, be just as diligent in your search to confirm or dismiss the story. Because, as I see it, the ratings, the notoriety, and the funding will always promote the negative statistics about Black Americans.

In closing, here are some verified African American Male statistics on education, economics and employment. Statistics you probably have never heard. Statistics I would challenge you to try discussing on your next visit to the local stylist, academic setting, or community activist meeting. What will sadden you most is to watch the debate, watch the resistance, and watch the denial from people who desire most to hold on to false claims about us… myths, stereotypes and misinformation that only perpetuates the denigration of us all.

·       There are more Black Males in College[1] than in Jails, Prisons, Private Corrections, Military Jails and Institutions for the Criminally Insane combined[2] (1,236,443 in College/841,000 Incarcerates – regardless of age)

·       4 to 1: The ratio of 18-24 year old Black Males in College[3] vs. Jails, Prisons, Private Corrections, Military Jails and Institutions for the Criminally Insane[4].

(674,000 in College/164,400 Incarcerates)

  • 32.3% (1 in 3) Black Males ages 18-24 are enrolled in College[5]

(674,000 in College/2,082,000 Total)

  • 1.37 to 1: The ratio of 18-24 year old Black Females enrolled in College to Black Males[6].

(930,000 Black Females Enrolled/674,000 Black Males Enrolled)

  • 6.3%: Black Males (age 18-55+) enroll in College at a higher rate by sex than White Males and Hispanic Males and are surpassed only by Asian Males[7].

(Black Males is 6.3%, White Males is 5.8%, Hispanic Males is 4.7%, and Asian Males is 9.7%)

  • 25.1% of Black Males (age 25 or over) have either an Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Professional, or Doctoral Degree[8].

(2,519,000 with Degrees/10,018,000 Total)

  • 82.1% of Black Males (age 18 or over) have at least a High School Diploma or GED[9] .

(9,897,000 with HS Diploma or GED/12,044,000 Total)

  • 12.1%:  The Black Male Dropout Rate[10] (ages 16-24) for 2008.

(301,000 Dropouts/2,583,000 Total)[11]

  • 5.1%: Percent of married Black Men who marry White Women[12]

(279,000 Black Husband-White Wife/5,654,000 Married Black Men)

  • 88.8%: Percent of Black Males earning income[13] ages 25-64 (employment)

(7,899,000 Employed/8,893,000 Total)

  • $23,738: Average Income for Black Males[14] 15 and older

$19,470 Average Income Black Females

  • 1,812,000 The number of Black Men making $50,000/year or more[15]
  • 71.6% of Black Men pay their agreed to or Court Awarded Child Support[16]

(855,000 Payers/1,194,000 Recipients)

  • $253 Billion: Total Income earned by Black Males[17] (15 and over)

($262 Billion earned by Black Females)

  • 13,104,000 Total Black Men age 15 or over[18]

(15,816,000 Total Black Females age 15 or over)


[1] National Center for Education Statistics: iPeds data set, March 2011 – reporting Scholastic Year 2009

[2] Bureau of Justice Statistics: Prison and Inmates at Midyear 2009 – June 2010)

[3] US Census Bureau: American Community Survey: Table 1.  Enrollment Status of the Population 3 Years Old and Over, by Sex, Age, Race, Hispanic Origin, Foreign Born, and Foreign-Born Parentage:  October 2009

[4] Bureau of Justice Statistics: Prison and Inmates at Midyear 2009 – June 2010

[5] US Census Bureau: American Community Survey: Table 1.  Enrollment Status of the Population 3 Years Old and Over, by Sex, Age, Race, Hispanic Origin, Foreign Born, and Foreign-Born Parentage:  October 2009

[6] US Census Bureau: American Community Survey: Table 1.  Enrollment Status of the Population 3 Years Old and Over, by Sex, Age, Race, Hispanic Origin, Foreign Born, and Foreign-Born Parentage:  October 2009

[7] US Census Bureau: American Community Survey: Table 1.  Enrollment Status of the Population 3 Years Old and Over, by Sex, Age, Race, Hispanic Origin, Foreign Born, and Foreign-Born Parentage:  October 2009

[8] U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2009 Annual Social and Economic Supplement

[9] U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2009 Annual Social and Economic Supplement

[10] National Center for Education Statistics: Table A-19-2.  Number of status dropouts and status dropout rates of 16-through 24-year-olds – American Community Survey (ACS) 2008)

[11] 2,583,000 includes individuals reporting Black A.O.I.C. US Census data are individuals reporting Black Alone

[12] U.S. Census Bureau, Annual Social and Economic Supplement: 2003 Current Population Survey, Current Population Reports, Series P20-553, “America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2003” and earlier reports.

[13] U.S. Census Bureau, PINC-01. Selected Characteristics of People 15 Years Old and Over by Total Money Income in 2009, Work Experience in 2009, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Sex

[14] U.S. Census Bureau, PINC-01. Selected Characteristics of People 15 Years Old and Over by Total Money Income in 2009, Work Experience in 2009, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Sex

[15] U.S. Census Bureau, PINC-05. Work Experience in 2009–People 15 Years Old and Over by Total Money Earnings in 2009, Age, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Sex

[16] U.S. Census Bureau, Child Support Payments Agreed to or Awarded Custodial Parents by Selected Characteristics and Sex: 2007

[17] U.S. Census Bureau, PINC-08. Source of Income in 2009-People 15 Years Old and Over, By Income of Specified Type in 2009, Age, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Sex

[18] U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2009.

About the Author:   JANKS MORTON is the founder of iYAGO ENTERTAINMENT GROUP, LLC, a multimedia production company. He states “the company came into existence to reflect both the consciousness and the unconsciousness soul of Black America.  Janks is an award winning filmmaker who shook up the world with his movie “What Black Men Think.”  He’s also the author of the book, “Why He Hates You.”  Janks has been in the entertainment industry for more than 20 years

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16 Responses to “Hood-Winked”

  1. I love this one. Its so true in every word. We do need to focus on positive, so much of our lives are negative. Good read.

  2. Too bad that the negative sells faster and better than the positive. That’s why you see more advertising dollars shifting to Black boys (and now girls) with basketballs rather than briefcases in the 21st century. Old stereotypes don’t die…they get re-introduced every ten years.

  3. Everett Says:

    I can scarcely find the words to describe how much I appreciate this particular article. I wish there were a way to share this information with as all of our people. I for one am tired of other folks framing and telling our story. I look forward to more tellings of a truthful nature about our people.

  4. Hey Brother Janks,
    Great piece, and a myth-buster too. Simply stated, we must tell our own story. Thanks so much. My daughter is coming to Howard this year, and she is very interested (and talented too) in the film industry. I have already contacted Gary Johnson and Jeff Banks to watch out for her, and I would like her to meet you too. I will be in touch. Keep up the good work. Jim Clingman

  5. […] There are more Black Males in College[1] than in Jails, Prisons, Private Corrections, Military Jails and Institutions for the Criminally […]

  6. Great article! Better facts! Good to share something positive. You are right, we make stuff up based on the misinformation that the media presents. We say we don’t believe the media but we believe their lies! Thanks for pointing out some truth!

  7. I sat in a stats class tonight during which an article was presented about the statistical difference between blacks and whites with respect to the amount of television watched, the types of commercials shown btwn black prime time shows and general prime time; and the weight differences between the two groups with link to more junk food commercials being shown on black channels. I believe it was a 1999 report. Anyway, I was the only black student in the class and I am overweight. Based on the article, my classmates were left to assume that I likely gained weight from watching too many black programs with excessive junk food commercials. However, my poor eating habits correlate to my life’s stressors more than television viewing which is minimal. An article about the disparity in mortgage interest rates was also discussed. I left class feeling like I was starving to hear something good about my race. Hence, I found your article. Thank you.

  8. Read your article and marveled at the facts you presented. In a society where every morning and all day long I hear something negative about my brothers and sisters in the media, I was refreshed and more confident in our collective ability to rise above the hinderances and traps that we endure as African Americans. Thank You!!

  9. This article makes me feel great!. I think we as black people are moving in the right direction 🙂

    • Anonyous is a white dude, he goes on all the black sites to destort the trueth, pay him no mind. Whites don’t want blacks to hear the trueth about themselves, thats why they lie all the time about us. The devil(2 kings 5:27)

  10. What sources did you find that led you to that statistical data you presented in this article?

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