For nearly two years, the W. K. Kellogg foundation has funded the Kirwan Institute to expand the knowledge base and academic scholarship on African American males. The major goals we have met in this work include: A) updating the review of social science literature on African American males; B) assembling and learning from a national advisory board of scholars on African American males; C) completing a mapping project on the isolation of African American males from opportunities, a goal not explicitly recorded in our grant proposal; and D) convening a national conference on African American males that will culminate in a published anthology of emergent research and literature on African American males. We organize this report using these four goals as section markers, followed by two sections for our recommendations and references. We conclude with an Appendix evaluating our work for the Kellogg Foundation.
A wide range of statistics reflects the plight of black men in America: their high rates of criminality, incarceration, alcohol and drug use, unwed parenting, and premature death; their low rates of legal employment, high school completion, college attendance, and active participation in the lives of their children. In this report, we bring to light many key research, advocacy and policy initiatives. It is critical, however, to position them within a larger, structural context that acknowledges the cumulative interaction of systemic, institutional and spatial barriers impacting black males. Truly transformative efforts on behalf of black males can only be grounded in a deep recognition of and prescriptive attention to this structural context. Creating a more cohesive “field” of researchers and advocates whose practices engage this context can strengthen efforts to subvert racial hierarchy, construct communities of opportunity, and promote democratic practices for African American males, as well as for all members of society.