It’s easy to disregard people when they say that the government is against black advancement, but when data shows that black men are more likely to end up in prison than college, you begin to think that there must be something to this theory. Why is it that more black men end up behind bars than in class? And if they don’t, why do we constantly hear that they do? It is easy for researchers and the general public to point a finger at incarcerated black men, but why is it that Americans believe that more African-American end up in jail than in learning institutions?
At a 2007 NAACP forum, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama said, “We have more work to do when more young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America.”
Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D. discussed the issue:
“Both President Obama and I brought our own unique style to the line. I was deferential and academic, while President Obama was passionate and eloquent. In contrast, many people, like Charles Barkley, are reckless and aloof when they use the line. Recently he told Bob Costas, “You know, we as black people always, we don’t have respect for one another. You know, we’ve got more black men in prison than we do in college, and crime in our neighborhoods is running rampant.” In full context, Barkley was using the line to justify the need for armed defense against black men.
However, just as a Jheri curl would be wrong no matter how you dressed it up today, the line “There are more black men in jail than in college” is wrong no matter how you contextualize, qualify or articulate it.”