The Racial Ethnic Minority Special Interest Group (REMSIG), of the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity, is a group of psychologists and graduate students with research and practice interests that center on concerns facing boys and men of color. The group meets annually during the Convention of the American Psychological Association to discuss advances, strategies, and barriers to engaging in research and practice with particular interest in Black boys and men.
During our annual meeting in 2014, REMSIG members endeavored to create a brief document that could be accessed by our members as well as the public to bring awareness, knowledge, and to share some potential interventions. Since that meeting, there have been a number of police-related deaths involving men of color. As the reports of each new death of a Black male emerge, we feel deeply the pain inflicted upon us, and members of our greater community. Each case brings to our awareness how systemic racism, bias, and masculine norms may shape the behaviors of police and the responses of boys and men in our communities. Instead of a sole focus on police violence, we sought to provide more context to understand the experiences of Black boys and men. We recognize that police-related deaths have impacted communities of color outside of our specific focus on Black boys and men, however this report gives special attention to Black boys and men given the disproportionate number of violent acts against this group.
Alarming statistics of the disparities faced by Black boys and men in the areas of public health, criminal justice, and education are used to introduce our discussion of the risk factors that should inform interventions and policies impacting Black boys and men. Though only 12% of the population, African American men comprise 1 million out of the total 2.3 million incarcerated in U.S. prisons. Despite the fact that Whites commit most drug crimes, Blacks are incarcerated for drug crimes at a rate ten times higher than Whites. In 2002, Blacks constituted more than 80% of the people sentenced under the federal crack cocaine laws and served substantially more time in prison for drug offenses than did Whites, despite the fact that more than 2/3 of crack cocaine users in the U.S. are White or Hispanic. Regarding education, Black males have the lowest graduation rates among Black, Latino, and non-Latino White male and female students.
Psychologists are in an optimal position to work against social injustices such as these, by serving as consultants to law enforcement, engaging in the creation of policy, and working in school settings. Psychologists can be ready and skilled to address the experiences of direct and vicarious race-based trauma experienced by Black boys and men. We encourage psychologists to leverage theoretical and empirical knowledge to address structural inequities that promote disparities in academic opportunities, health, and legal problems that are.
To those ends, our document is two-fold. The first half presents current information on the state of Black boys and men in the United States: (1) provides a summary of public health, criminal justice, and education data on Black boys and men and (2) summarizes the scholarship on implicit bias as a way to explain recent race-based inequities. The second half of the document provides recommendations such as (1) promising strategies to stem the violence that Black boys and men face by law enforcement; (2) interventions with educators, counselors, and school administrators; and (3) resources for psychologists and families.
Despite the many odds stacked against Black boys and men there are many protective factors that aid their development. Our full report references the psychological theories and research that should inform interventions and policies designed for Black boys and men. Furthermore, recommendations are provided to inform policy makers, law enforcement, educators, and psychologists.
The full report will be available on http://division51.net by Summer 2016
Prepared by: Christopher T. H. Liang, Bryana French, Amber Hewitt, Shalena Heard, Christina Hermann, Louis Rivera, Pegah Eftekharzadeh, and Meenal Jog on behalf of the SPSMM Racial/Ethnic Minority Special Interest Group (REMSIG)