1 in 6 Black males are in prison.
Black males consist of 50% of the prison population.
I hate those numbers because I’ve always felt that they’ve been used to write the story for myself and others before the book is even opened with the synopsis reading, “He was born. He became a criminal. He went to jail. He died. The end.” Today, it’s become a bestseller among liberals and conservatives alike.
It hurts me to see those stats, to hear them reinforced by media everyday, to listen to them celebrated by some of my fellow hip hop artists in song, and to see the fear in the eyes of strangers who see me walking up the street toward them; however, what angers me more than any of that is that I never, ever hear about how many White men are in prison. Or, for that matter, how many Black men are. Not “1 in 6”...the actual number.
See, “1 in 6” could be twisted to be interpreted in a couple of different ways. For example, what if the government took $1 for every $6 you made? If you only made $6 total, then taking that $1 would seem unjust. What about $600? Most of us pay well over $100 in taxes per paycheck anyway. What if you made $6 million? You still have $5 million to play with.
Bad example? Money and peoples’ freedom have no comparison. Maybe not; however, the point that I want to convey is that “1 in 6” can be seen different ways based on presentation. What if I said, “5 out of 6 Black males in America will never see the inside of a prison cell?” Why don’t you think that’s ever said?
Well, whether you know it or not, scary Black guys move the meter in America (a half-naked White woman does, also). The thought of 1 out of every 6 of us having sex with daughters, teaching sons how to sag their pants and do drugs, robbing homes, and jacking cars is just what is needed to push people in whatever direction politics and media ratings need them to go.
Unfortunately, this view isn’t just held to White America. Many Blacks find themselves clinging to the same perceptions that are used against them by others. Are they right? After all, a lot of Black Folks are in the trenches. We live among the 1 out of 6. If we’re scared, shouldn’t everyone else be?
As a Black man, raised in Compton during 80’s and ‘90’s, I would say no. Using myself as a tester, I’ve never been arrested, so off of default, I’ve never been to prison. The same would go for most of my friends. We did all of the same things as most of the other adolescents where we lived, and more. So since this is true for me, is it that outside of the realm of thought that there are others like us?
The purpose of this article is to show you how Black men, in general, are the 5 out of 6 that you don’t hear about. I know it won’t be easy. After all, I’m fighting mental conditioning on all fronts, but I have an idea that projects at least moderate success...I hope.
To put it simply, I am going to give you numbers that I took from The FBI database, Bureau of Investigations, and Consensus websites, and let you decide. No reverse brainwashing or guilt trips. All I ask is that you have an open mind, and see the truth in what I tell you. Deal?
Okay, let’s get started.
From 2000-2010, Black males were arrested at a yearly average of 3.8 million, while nearly 3 times the amount of White males were arrested at an average on 9.7 million. Of those arrests, I discovered a couple of things:
I found this interesting because these are three violent tendencies that have been a main focal point of the Black stereotype. It was weirdly satisfying to see that the numbers say something different. I wasn’t completely satisfied, though. These numbers speak to the current state of Black men in America which, as established in part 1, shows how violence in our community has declined.
So I went back into my databases and went all the way back to 1980. In that year, 7.74 million White males were arrested versus a little over 2.5 million Black men. I thought to myself, “It was probably because crack hadn’t hit the streets yet.”
So I fast forwarded to 1985, where I saw that 8.57 million Whites in contrast to 3.17 million Black males were arrested. Nearly 558,000 of the Whites were arrested for drug related issues while only 245,000 Blacks suffered the same fate. Another surprising thing was the amount of forcible rape arrests from both races of men. Blacks were at 17,000 while Whites had 19,000.
I went to 1990 where I found pretty much the same thing, except that for the first time, I noticed that Black arrests for homicides surpassed White arrests. It did so in a disturbing fashion. There were 12,477 Black men arrested for homicides; however, there was still a high number of White homicide arrests, over 10,000. In addition, forcible rape arrests with nearly 17,000 and over 21,000 respectively.
Since then, the number of homicide and forcible rape arrests for Black and White men have dropped drastically. In 2010, there were 5430 Black men arrested for homicides and only 6300 for forcible rape. At the same time, 5540 White males were arrested for homicides with a little over 13,000 being arrested for forcible rape. Drug arrests have nearly stayed still since 1995, and arrests in general have declined by about 1 million for Whites and Blacks.
So here’s the inquiry: what do these numbers say to you? I hope they make you question what you’ve been trained to believe about me. If not, that’s okay. I’m just glad you took the time to read this. Now I do want to end on this...
...despite the overwhelming number of Whites arrested over Blacks, there is consistently around 100,000 more Black men in prison annually. I will attempt to examine that in my next article. Peace.
Quanstar is an American underground hip hop artist, indie filmmaker, comic creator, and self published author from Atlanta.