Bars or Books
Not to rehash old news, but we all know the statistics of black men in prison versus black men in college. We know how distorted those numbers are, and how they're basically used to shock the masses instead of educating them. Guilty liberals point to the numbers to show how the system is still letting down minorities, our own people use it as a crutch when they can't get their shit together, and racist ass non-blacks use the numbers to justify their following us around in stores and shit. But recently, some updated numbers have come out, showing there are now more black men enrolled in college than in prison, although, the population of black men living in college dorm rooms is still less than the population of black men living in prisons (although, I have to say, as someone who lived in college dorm rooms all four years, that experience is very prison like, especially at a black college). So, this should be good news, right?
Why is college and jail the only two institutions we care about? Is it because both places say so much about a person? Old school thought will tell you if you're enrolled in college, congratulations young blood! You're doing something with your life. And if you're in jail, sorry for you, my man. Should've been hitting the books instead of those corners.
It's all just so sad.
Why is there no gray in this world of black and white? I went to college, never been to jail, but you know what that says about me? Nothing. There has to be a better gauge for how our black men are doing other than measuring their population numbers in college and in prison. I know a few good men in jail or who have been to jail. I know a few no good men in college. And, I know even more black men who have never been to either institution. There are a lot of things you have to do to get into college. On the flipside, there are a lot of things you have to do go to prison. It takes work to get to either of those destinations.Â But if a person's not going to either, that might be because they ain't doing a damn thing with their life but probably collecting a check. Real talk, apathy and laziness is the kind of attitude that can't even be measured by the Census. You know why? Because apathetic muh'fuckas are too lazy to fill out the questionaire or pick up the phone to answer the questions needed to gather numbers.
I'm not trying to be an apologist for inmates. Nor am I trying demean the college experience. Prison is bad, and college is good, that's just a fact of life. But there are plenty of black men who aren't in either of those places. Like my boy back home in California who never went to a four-year institution, and never went to jail, but he is a practicing phlebotomist, coach's a high school basketball team, and works part-time at Foot Locker. Some would say he's doing fine. Some would say he could be doing more. Whatever your opinion is of people like my boy, the fact is, we need to start doing some studies on individuals like him. The ones who aren't in college and not in prison should be of concern to everybody, because they have the potential to end up in either one of those places.