Justice

This College Graduate's Viral Tweet Highlights Two Statistics About Black Men

Daivon Reeder graduated from Eastern Michigan University last week, along with 4,000 of his peers. Though many graduates were surely celebrating on social media, what Reeder tweeted revealed two terrifying odds facing young black men today.

 

The tweet went viral, earning more than 600,000 likes and 147,000 retweets. Twitter users were quick to praise the young man for his perseverance.

Speaking to WXYZ Detroit, Reeder explained how he felt upon graduating, saying, "He told me there's no point in going to orientation because you weren't going to graduate, it was kind of ironic. Like I was saying, the two situations we [are] in, we're both two black male statistics. He's on the bad statistic, on the negative, and I'm the positive one, I'm a black male who just graduated college."

Prison Inmates

Reeder is right. The stats aren't pointed in his favor.

His story reveals something disturbing about black graduation and incarceration rates. Right now, the United States locks up more people than any other country in the world, and black Americans are detained at an alarmingly higher rate than white Americans. Though white individuals are just as likely as black ones to use drugs, black people are imprisoned for drug crimes at 10 times the rate of their white counterparts, the ACLU reports.

The harrowing statistic that one in three black men end up incarcerated at some point in their life should be enough of an indication that something is amiss. But the sad truth is that Reeder's stepfather is hardly an exception—his story is quite typical. This infographic from the New York Times visualizes the problem, pointing out that there are only 83 black men for every 100 black women outside of prison. The other 17 percent? They're either in jail or dead, for the most part. The disparity hardly exists among whites.

Things aren't too rosy on the graduation side of statistics either.

Sever Hall, Harvard

In 2007, at a speech delivered to the NAACP, future President Barrack Obama said these words: "We have more work to do when more young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America." While that turned out not to be true, it's not too far off either. According to the Huffington Post, there are "about 1.4 million black men enrolled in higher education, and a cataclysmic 745,000 behind bars." That's insane, given that prison is a system designed to rehabilitate a relative few, and education ought to be a right afforded every American.

The black college graduation rate isn't terribly promising either: 42 percent overall, 35 percent for black men, and 46 percent for black women. Add that to the fact that only 47 percent of black men even graduate high school, and the numbers reveal that Reeder did in fact go against pretty unfavorable odds.