Dr. Henrie M. Treadwell
I applaud your recent creation of the White House Council on Women and Girls to help ensure we are treated equally in public policies, by employers and in every other aspect of American society. I must also urge, however, that you place a similar emphasis on men and boys, particularly young men of color, who face some of the steepest hurdles in American society.
The reasons cited in forming the new council are just -- throughout our nation's history women have often been treated as second-class citizens when it comes to earning a livelihood, climbing the corporate ladder and even exercising the delayed right to vote. Let us not forget that the Equal Rights Amendment was first drafted in 1923--and has yet to be ratified.
To be sure, the new council will focus attention on continuing the progress that has been made through the decades as women have crashed through the glass ceiling.
But I would argue that young men of color face even more daunting circumstances. Young men of color face challenges ranging from a justice system that disproportionately incarcerates them to media and entertainment industries quick to portray them as worthless, violent and criminal. Even before the recession, our young men of color faced a bleak job market where discrimination, globalization and structural change made it difficult for them to find good jobs and succeed in life. With the nation's economy in a tailspin, the unemployment of young men of color has been spiraling out of control.
Consider this sampling of data:
* High school graduation rates for males of color--African Americans (42.8 percent), Native American/Alaska Natives (47 percent) and Hispanics (48 percent)--are far lower than for whites (70.8 percent).
* Minority youths are disproportionately in the juvenile justice system: African Americans (1,004 per 100,000), American Indians (632 per 100,000) and Latinos (485 per 100,000) compared with whites (212 per 100,000).
* More than 29 percent of African-American boys who are 15-years-old today are likely to go to prison at some point in their lives, compared with 4.4 percent of white boys the same age.
* The mortality rate from homicide for African-American boys ages 15-17 is 34.4 per 100,000, compared with 2.4 per 100,000 for non-Hispanic white boys.