By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
Although the facility is built to hold only 838 inmates, on any given day, over 1300-plus, mostly Black men, of varying ages are housed in Norfolk’s city jail.
Many of them can peer out the narrow windows at the neighborhoods where their families live.
Most of the students who drop out of the city’s public schools are Black males. and they make up a large portion of the homeless, displaced boys and men who are usually uncounted during the census every ten years.
They are chronically unemployed surfing from one relative’s or friend’s couch or public shelter, for temporary housing.
Young Black men are usually impacted most by the Black on Black homicides: one is the victim and the other is the jailed criminal.
Apart from murder, African-American men are disproportionately impacted by HIV, cancer, and other diseases, which shorten their lives and ability to establish careers and families.
A recent article in the New York Times based on data collected from the U.S. Census, criminal justice system, death records, poverty and other data, revealed that thousands of Black men are “missing” from the nation’s general population.
Traditional birth rates say Black boys are born at higher rates than girls. Yet, when researchers using census data compared the adult population of Black men to women in various locales, they were able to determine the depth of Black men missing or unaccounted for in the general population in the 24 to 54 age range, the most productive years of their lives.
In Norfolk, according to the recent (2010 and 2013 census) yardsticks, there are 54,000 plus Black women compared to 50,000-plus Black men.
In Portsmouth, there are 27,000-plus Black women compared to 23,000-plus Black men. In Richmond, there are 58,000-plus Black women compared to 48,000-plus Black men.
Those figures are paltry compared to trends in larger urban centers.
In New York, almost 120,000 Black men between the ages of 25 and 54 are “missing” from everyday life. In Chicago, 45,000 are “missing,” and more than 30,000 are “missing” in Philadelphia. Across the South – from North
Charleston, S.C., through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi and up into Ferguson, Mo. – hundreds of thousands more are not accounted for on census data.
One out of every six Black men who today should be alive and between 25 to 54 years of age has disappeared from daily life.
The gap between Black boys and girls does not exist in childhood, but begins during the teen years, widens through the 20s and 30s and onward into adulthood.
The closest estimate of “missing men” is over 1.5 million-plus, according to anUpshot, the organization which did the analysis in conjunction with the Times.
AnUpshot relied on the census which counts the number of people in prison and in other institutions such as homeless shelters, hospitals, nursing homes and domestic military barracks.
According to the Census Bureau, there were 7,046 million Black men ages 25 to 54 who were not incarcerated in 2010 and 8.503 million Black women who were not. The difference between these two figures determined that 1.5 million Black men “missing.”
For every 100 Black women in this age group living outside of jail, there are only 83 Black men. For White Americans, there is an equal number – 99.
These trends are nothing new – fostered by abusive economic, political and judicial policies toward Blacks, especially Black men over decades.
Being “missing” physically from the population deters these Black men from traditional roles as employees, husbands and fathers.
Academics and rights activists have cast new light on these factors in the wake of the series of unarmed Black men being shot to death by police.
One example is Ferguson, Mo., where 18-year-old Black teen, Michael Brown, was shot by a white police officer after a confrontation over walking in the middle of the street.
The killing touched off riots in Ferguson, a city with a population of 21,000, which is majority Black, but has a majority white police force and cadre of city leaders.
Ferguson has 60 men for every 100 Black women in in the 24-55 age range.
The South, where most Black people live, has the largest proportions of missing men. There are also trends in locales in the Midwest and in Northeastern cities.
The trend is smallest out West.
Incarceration and early deaths are the overwhelming drivers of the gap. Of the 1.5 million-plus missing Black men from 25 to 54 – higher incarceration rates account for almost 600,000.
Almost 1 in 12 Black men in this age group is behind bars, compared with 1 in 60 non-Black men in the age group, 1 in 200 Black women and1 in 500 non-Black women.
High death rates among Black men account for about 900,000 fewer prime-age Black men than women in the United States, according to the census.
Researchers say homicide is the leading cause of death for young African-American men. Heart disease, respiratory disease and accidents caused more deaths among Black men than other demographic groups, including Black women.
Military service, especially deployment overseas, and the gender breakdown of Black immigrants play only a minor role in the reduced number of Black men, census data indicates.
With the absence of productive and available Black men, it is harder for Black women to find eligible Black men to marry and form families.
Black men, facing an abundant supply of potential female partners, don’t need to compete as hard to find one. This makes them less willing to commit to marriage, the researches say.
This factor has pushed Black women to rely on themselves to support a household.
In those states with the highest incarceration rates, Black women have become more likely to work and more likely to pursue their education further.
But the census data noted an interesting change.
Death rates since the 1990s for young African-American men have dropped more than rates for other groups, notes Robert N. Anderson, the chief of mortality statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both homicides and H.I.V.-related deaths, which disproportionately afflict Black men, have dropped.
However, the high incarceration of Black men has risen over the past 34 years, replacing homicide and death by disease in many locales.
The missing “Black men” phenomenon will not disappear anytime soon, the study shows. There are more missing African-American men nationwide than there are African-American men residing in all of New York City – or more than in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Detroit,
Houston, Washington and Boston, combined.