Why it’s not a mistake that 1.5 million Black men are missing in America

Photo: A.R. Shaw

According to a study by Upshot analysis in The New York Times, there are 1.5 million Black men missing in America. The data, which was compiled by the 2010 Census, indicated that Black men between the ages of 24-54 are mainly missing from society due to mortality and high incarceration rates. As a result, for every 100 Black women, there are only 83 Black men.

The numbers have created a crisis in the Black community as family structures collapse due to the number of Black men who are missing. Black women are less likely to get married, Black children are being raised without Black fathers in the household, and Black families find it difficult to build wealth due to a lack of working-age Black men.

But the shocking disparity didn’t occur by happenstance. It took decades of biased laws and racist actions to create a dearth of Black men in America.

In 1960, 1,300 Black men per 100,000 residents were incarcerated. By 2010, that number increased to 4,347, according to Pew Research Center. Crime rates have fallen during the last decades, but the jail population has increased.

During President Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr.’s  administrations, the private prison industry began to take off. The Correctional Corporation of America and Wackenhut began signing contracts with state governments to own and operate prisons. The catch was that the prisons needed to always be filled to capacity.

In 1986, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act enacted mandatory minimum sentences which put nonviolent offenders behind bars for decades. Due to racial profiling and policies such as stop-and-frisk, Black men were overwhelmingly targeted and more likely to end up behind bars for a nonviolent offense.

When factoring in the rise of Black males in prison, violence against Black men, and racial disparities when it comes to workplace hiring, there was a perfect storm created, which led to an increase in the number of missing Black men in America.

Now that these shocking numbers have been revealed, what will America’s leaders do to reverse this horrific trend?

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