More Black Men in Jail Than in College? Wrong

Show Me the Numbers: A 13-year-old report using questionable data gave rise to an enduring myth.

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Consider this: If all 1,127,170 black males who were enrolled in undergraduate programs in 2010 eventually graduated, the total number of black males with college degrees would increase by 71 percent, nearly achieving parity with white males. However, we will not sufficiently support black male college students -- nor college-bound students -- if we simply keep perpetuating the myth that juxtaposes their needs with those of black males in the criminal-justice system.

Next week we examine the nation's persistent problem with mass incarceration among black men and why it has little to do with black male presence at colleges and universities. We also outline some of the unintended consequences of spreading the myth, ultimately in order to start a new agenda to increase college persistence and reduce incarceration for black males.

Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D., was appointed by President Barack Obama to be the deputy director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He is currently on leave from his position as associate professor at Howard University. He is also a contributing education editor for The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

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