So yesterday the NY Times published some statistics on Americans in prison, and the numbers are particularly depressing for blacks. 1 in 15 are in prison, and 1 in 9 (!) between the ages of 20-34.
This is compared to latinos living la vida loca at a 1 in 36 rate. No word on whether whites actually get sent to prison or are simply sentenced to watching The Wire for a few days.
This report raises a constant debate TAN2 and I have about the state of blacks (usually we specify about black men) and whether we're trending up or trending down. In general I feel we're trending up, I point to Obama, more celebrities/rich black people, and the last white girl I slept with as positive signs of our growth. He points to statistics like the ones in this report as an equally effective counter-argument.
In truth I don't think either of us are wrong, but when reasoned this way it brings up a Quality vs. Quantity argument (something I'll probably raise tonight during The White House) and it essentially boils down to a formula: How many blacks in jail = 1 Obama? Or Oprah? Or Jay-Z?
10? 100? 100K? Is Obama priceless? In which case maybe we can just write-off all the imprisoned negroes on our (err, your) AMEX? Will our celebrity negroes serve as beacons of hope that eventually free us all from the system? Or are they red (err, black) herrings, superficial icing on a cake of gloom and doom?
I don't know, but if we can get a bead on that equation I suspect we'll be able to figure out how much weed we need to smoke and alcohol we need to drink to get our mind on our money and our money on our minds.
(I don't know if that last part makes sense, but I'm just ecstatic over not being in prison. Yay!)
1 in 100 Americans in jail [NY Times]