Forum: Challenges Facing Young African American Men and Their Communities
On November 17, the Religion, Public Policy, and Political Change Consultation of the American Academy of Religion; The Urban Institute; and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy cosponsored “Forum on Young Black Men: Challenges Facing Young African-American Men, Their Families, and Their Communities: The Role of Policy, Culture, and Faith.” The forum consisted of two panels, “The Costs of Neighborhood Exclusion and Isolation” and “Improving Work and Family Prospects for Young African American Men.”
“The Costs of Neighborhood Exclusion and Isolation,” moderated by Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune and paneled by Margery Austin Turner of The Urban Institute, Darryl Timiew of Medgar Evers College, and Joe Pettit of Morgan State University, focused on housing and community building in largely minority areas with high poverty rates. Turner proposed a two point approach to helping poor communities: enabling families that would like to leave poor communities through voucher programs and restoring the health of poor areas through resources so that those families that choose to stay are also receiving benefits. Turner also stressed that the African- American population tends to suffer more from structural and systemic deficiencies because poor African-Americans tend to live in centralized locations while poor white Americans tend to be spread throughout the suburbs, benefiting from the resources provided by wealthier neighbors such as good schools systems and ample employment opportunities. Trimiew stressed the role of those who succeed in the African-American community, suggesting that instead of “escaping” to the suburbs, those individuals should stay in impoverished areas and “lift as they climb,” advocating for an agenda that moves the focus from female-lead households and failure to graduate high school and incarceration rates to the concept of an untapped population with a plethora of skills. Petit also focused on the need for a change in the way the situation is discussed, stressing the importance of faith based communities in welcoming African-American families into their communities.