A year after their State of the African-American Male Conference, Rep. Danny Davis, members of the Sankofa Safe Child Initiative and other community stakeholders gathered Tuesday to unveil possible solutions to the problems black men face in their report of the same name.
The 76-page report, which is a collaboration between Sankofa and Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., laid out the ground work for changes in criminal justice reform, education and community development to enhance the lives of black men in the country.
“We don’t propose to have all of the answers but we have looked hard, we’ve looked for and we’ve looked at solutions,” Davis said. “The question becomes are we willing to do what is necessary to bring about the proposed changes that we know will work.”
The focus on African-American men stems from seeing a downturn in the livelihoods of African-American men across the country.
According to the report, drop out rates for African-American men in Austin, North Lawndale, East and West Garfield Parks and South Lawndale far outpace the drop out rates of their white peers.
The unemployment rate for black men in the city is 21 percent, or more than triple the national average. Twenty-seven percent of African-American males are in poverty, the report says — that number is nearly double the city’s poverty rate, according to the report.
Annetta Wilson, executive director of the safe child initiative, urged organizations and individuals to get involved because “when we work together we have better results so as a result of that and as a result of this report there are a lot of different things that all of us can do. No one person has to do one thing.”
The report offers a mix of solutions and stats that include requiring significant contracts to have a community benefits agreement, developing mentorship programs and dedicating Section 8 vouchers to homeless young people and those exiting foster care.
The hope is that by connecting people to employment, housing and schools, the lives of black men in Chicago and in cities around the nation will be better.
The next step in the community awareness campaign will include meetings with government officials at the local, state and federal levels to better “all aspects of African-American life.” Beyond those meetings, organizers will also launch a referendum to expand mental health services in Austin, according to the report.