Men and Communities: African-American Males and the Well Being of Children, Families, and Neighborhoods

by James B. Hyman

Jan 1, 2006

This paper views men as an entry point for development of low-income, minority communities. It addresses the question of why men matter to community well-being and presents a framework for seeing the connections between societal expectations, opportunity structures, behavior and choices, and community well-being.

  • Men are more likely to get married if they do well economically, and married couples build more wealth for themselves and their children than single people. Furthermore, absent fathers harm children's chance of success.
  • Young black men are frequently perpetrators and victims of violent crime. Neighborhood crime rates hurt the whole community economically and the prison experience impacts community culture and worldview.
  • Institutions -- schools, hospitals, work places law enforcement -- make macro-social biases operational, whether consciously or unconsciously.
  • Negative environments do not necessarily imply negative outcomes; choices can be made to influence one's human capital, health, and social networks. Thus more interventions should be designed to "help build positive character and competence" to encourage positive outcomes.