Where Are The Black Men?

The student body at Howard University is made up of 72 percent women and 28 percent men, according to data published by U.S. News about the school’s Fall 2021 enrollment. Comments made on student forums underscore this point.

“The ratio at Howard is just about 7 females to every male, guys love it, girls on the other hand…we make it work,” one student said in answer to a question on Unigo about the dating scene at Howard.

The staggering gender gap at the prominent historically Black college and university highlights a more significant trend. It also raises two critical questions: “Where are the Black men on college campuses?” and “Why is the gap so large in the first place?”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the education gap between Black men and Black women is not limited to HBCUs and widens regarding advanced degrees.

In 2019, 30 percent of Black women held a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 28 percent of Black men. That same year, Black women had 9 percent of master’s degrees compared to 4 percent of Black men.

According to a study by the Brookings Institute, Black men are also most likely to remain in poverty.

The Brookings study attributes the immense disparities to Black men being “uniquely stigmatized” by society, which in turn causes implicit bias that makes it harder for them to succeed.

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The historical archetype imposed upon Black men in media and popular culture is known in academia as the “Black brute” stereotype.

According to a description by Ferris State University, ‘The brute caricature portrays Black men as innately savage, animalistic, destructive, and criminal — deserving punishment, maybe death. This brute is a fiend, a sociopath, an anti-social menace. Black brutes are depicted as hideous, terrifying predators who target helpless victims, especially white women.”

The research of political scientists Ismail White and Corrine McConnaughy underscore this point by showing “more than 40% of white respondents rank ‘many or almost all’ Black men as ‘violent,’” Brookings reported.

Rashawn Ray, a Rubenstein fellow at Brookings who is also a Black man, wrote about the unfair stigma imposed upon them.

“Black men have a different social reality from their black female counterparts,” Ray wrote. “The perceptions of others influence black men’s social interactions with co-workers and neighbors [and] structure a unique form of relative deprivation…In this regard, the intersectionality framework becomes useful for illuminating black men’s multiplicities and vulnerabilities.” 

Twitter users weighed in on the disparity between black men and women at HBCUs.

“I knew this, but still shocking to see. My brother graduated from an HBCU and then got with a girl who didn’t even go to the school so even one less man for the ladies there,” Sachelle Reid wrote.

During the holidays visits w/your family, take an honest look at your nephews & male cousins, observe, ask them questions, if you can even ask them to read a paragraph or two,” @Gentlemen_Alive. “Then go talk to the girls. Then go talk to the parents. You’ll see why this is so.”

One user offered his thoughts on additional factors contributing to the gap in two tweets.

“Consider how we socialize black boys verses girls. My daughter is in Coding, Robotics, Gifted and Talented and I have already set her up financially to be secure by age 16. When I tell people that they love it. She is 7,” @Gconomic101 wrote. 

“All my friends with boys the same age tell me how the expectation from family and friends is that they put them in sports,” @Gconomics101 continued. “There are rarely conversations about putting their black sons in Coding, Robotics, etc. Nearly all the conversations revolve around physical discipline and not mental discipline.”

PHOTO: A young man reads on the Howard University campus July 6, 2021, in Washington. A recent poll found that Black Americans have a more positive outlook on upward mobility for future generations than white Americans. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

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