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Are Black Men Doomed?

ISBN: 978-1-5095-2205-7
140 pages
January 2018, Polity
Are Black Men Doomed? (1509522050) cover image


Life for too many African American men is a battle with extreme disadvantage, a fight for survival, and a struggle for dignity in a society which labels them a "problem." For more than thirty years, most of the effort put toward addressing the crisis of black men has centered on what they must do to improve their condition. Without neglecting that perspective, Are Black Men Doomed? radically shifts the focus.

This urgent intervention explores how a damning portrait of Black men as incorrigibly pernicious has been built and persists, and how the voice of these men themselves has been ignored. It astutely argues that improving prospects for Black men requires that society fully come to terms with the narrow and incomplete vision it has sustained about these men. It then shows us the means to hear, understand, and value them, offering a new vision rooted in reinterpretation and redemption.

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Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • 1. The Problem with Black Males
  • 2. Our Problem with Black Males
  • 3. Getting Close from Afar: The Unhealthy Gaze upon Black Males
  • 4. Pushing Past Pathology: Undoing the Consequences of the Negative Gaze
  • 5. Conclusions: The Promise of Looking Anew at Black Males
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Author Information

Alford A. Young, Jr. is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Chair of Sociology at the University of Michigan.

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"In this thoughtful and important book, Alford Young draws upon his years of research to provide an illuminating discussion of society's portrait of black males and response to them. Informed by his findings, he calls upon us to not only rethink our collective sentiment about these men, but to take a more thorough account of how they view themselves as well. Young's Are Black Men Doomed? is a must-read."
William Julius Wilson, Harvard University

"Alford Young Jr. brings together all his skills and experience as a social scientist to weave this penetrating and honest reflection on black men in America. Are Black Men Doomed? not only illuminates the perspectives of these persons, but it forces us to recognize the particular and peculiar way in which the discourse around black men has formed in the US. This book is three-decades in the making and one can feel the steady march of thought moving the prescient analysis forward. This account is at once unsettling, thought provoking and necessary for our time."
Sudhir Venkatesh, Columbia University
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