'Africian-American Males Have, For Too Long, Gone Uncared For'


Here is the full text of the introduction of the report last week by the Governor's Commission on Black Males, chaired by Del. Elijah Cummings.

African-American males make-up more than 500,000 of Maryland's total population. As a group, they have a significant and undeniable impact on the society and economy of Maryland. However, the research completed by this Commission provides clear evidence that African-American males have, and continue to, fare poorly in Maryland when compared to the remainder of the population. Further, it was found that the past trends suggest little or no improvement in this condition for the future. There is a need to correct these inequities if Maryland is to position itself for its future. The correction of the inequities found by the Commission will begin the process of providing African-American males the opportunities to release their many untapped treasures. Providing these opportunities will improve the current condition of African-American males and will serve well the entire State.

The challenge before the State and African-American males is to transform this current situation into one where African-American males thrive, grow and make many positive contributions to the people and institutions of Maryland.

A number of factors exist that render this challenge a formidable one. Among them are racism on the part of the larger community, low self esteem on the part of some hTC African-American males and a pre-disposition to spending resources for the treatment of symptoms rather than finding remedies for the causes of problems and developing effective prevention mechanisms. To bring about a change in the current condition of African-American males, many must make a concentrated effort to depart from "business as usual."

Hence, it is necessary to collectively design an environment that will spawn and support improvements in five key areas: health, education, employment and economic development, and criminal justice. The four are inextricably intertwined. An improvement in the overall state of African-American males necessitates simultaneous positive change in each area. The creation of positive change depends on the following critical elements:

1. A predisposition toward positive change;

2. A knowledge and understanding of the root causes of sub-optimal conditions, circumstances and outcomes;

3. A change in policies, practices and attitudes;

4. The availability and allocation of resources to support and sustain change, and;

5. The selection and implementation of intervention programs that will effect systemic change and institutionalize an environment that nurtures, protects and supports African-American males.

It is very important to understand that the improvements sought are not solely for the benefit of African-American males but for all families, and communities, in Maryland. African-American males can only prosper in an environment where everyone is valued. However,African-American males have, for too long, gone uncared for, unrecognized for their positive contributions, and unrewarded for their accomplishments in the face of significant odds.

Society has too often alienated, criticized, and blamed African-American males for many of their ills. In many instances, African-American males have been the victims, rather than the initiators, of the ills. As a result, many African-American males are convinced that there is no hope for them. For some, this has led to despair and hopelessness. This has left them unable and unwilling to fight for better conditions or to trust the sincerity of any effort to "improve things." For others, this has led to defiance and the motivation to fight back. However, too often the fight is not waged against the "real enemy." When this occurs, creative resources, intellect, physical strength, and fortitude are lost. As a result, the value of African-American males is lost from their own lives, their families, and the State of Maryland.

The majority of African-American males work hard to live productive lives. They overcome great odds daily, raise their families and excel in numerous areas. Yet, a review of specific conditions and outcomes indicates that much is needed to bring equity to their lives so that they may realize that they have even greater potential.

The Commission has found that life could be much better for Maryland's African-American males. The improvements, which must be implemented to ensure a better life for African-American males, can be realized while producing an overall lower financial and emotional cost to society. The task of creating a better environment requires the dedication and the support of State and local governments, local institutions, community organizations, families, and friends of African-American males. The short term costs of developing a better environment will be off-set by long term savings in areas such as unemployment, incarceration, and long term medical care.

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