Prison Vs. College

Illinois stats reflect a disaster for black men

There were 41 black men enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2007, according to the Black Star Project; 1.4 percent of the student body.

That same year, there were 1,183 black men imprisoned at the Illinois River Correctional Center; 60 percent of that prison's population.

And so it goes: 115 black men enrolled at Bradley University (1.9 percent); 1,093 imprisoned at the Danville Correctional Center (60 percent). 321 black men enrolled at Northwestern University (1.7 percent); 1,207 imprisoned at Western Illinois Correctional Center (60 percent).

"After 30 years of rising enrollments, the low number of black students applying to and enrolling in American colleges and universities is shocking," the Chicago-based Black Star Project says. "While this does not bode well for black students attending college today, it predicts an absolutely disastrous future in the next 10- to 20-years for the black community. Instead of more black doctors, lawyers, educators, accountants, business managers, technologists, social workers, and engineers, the black community will have more government dependent, unskilled and unemployed workers. This current educational meltdown will have a catastrophic effect on the black community."

The statistics were distributed on Tuesday via Raynard Hall's Bronzecomm e-mail newsletter, under the headline "In Illinois, More Black Men Are in Prison Than in College." 

Hall's introduction to the data: "With these statistics, who are young black women going to marry? Who is going to father children in the black community? Who is going to help the black community compete against the world? And who really cares?"

We all better care, especially in an economic environment that is likely to only make things worse.

"What a cruel hoax to believe that if a black man can become president, then black men do not have problems that America is obligated to address," Black Star executive director Phillip Jackson writes. "Yet Black America cannot trade one black man in the White House for the million-plus black men languishing in American jail houses and millions of black boys failing in American school houses."


[Note: Data from the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Department of Corrections. Black Star: "Sixty percent of the Illinois prison population is comprised of black males. Because individual prisons do not disaggregate racial data, we have attributed 60 percent of each prison's population to black men."]


Steve Rhodes is the editor and publisher of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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