If you’re a Black woman looking to marry a Black man in Milwaukee, good luck.
A report released Wednesday by the NAACP and The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, “The State of Black Milwaukee,” focuses on the decline of two-parent Black families in Milwaukee and the city’s current demographics.
In 1970, 64.2 percent of all Black families in the city were two-parent; 30 years later only 28.2 percent were two-parent homes. The decline is largely due to the disproportionate number of Black males compared to Black females, according to the report. The prime, Black child-bearing-aged male population (20-54) would need to be increased by 37.8% percent to match the amount of Black females in the same age group.
Why aren’t there as many Black men in the city? Prison.
Wisconsin has the second-highest rate of Black incarceration in the country. The state pays $716,589,270 per year on correctional facilities and more Black men are imprisoned than were enslaved in 1850.
R.L. McNeely, the lawyer and professor of social welfare at UWM who prepared the study, explains that the statistics are more than just digits, however. The low number of Black men and high number of single mothers has drastic consequences in the Black community.
“Fatherless homes and Black family disruption are associated with neighborhood destabilization, Black juvenile criminality, increased Black juvenile violence and, indeed, [lead] to substantial increases in the rates of Black murder and robbery,” McNeely said at a press conference.
Additionally, the study reports that families headed by African-American single mothers can expect to earn less than one-third of what families headed by married African-Americans earn, and children in single parent homes are twice as likely to drop out of high school. They are also at much greater risk to abuse drugs and alcohol. McNeely calls the overlapping societal ills “a persistent and growing cancer on the health of the Black community.”
Suggestions for the city to increase the male population include establishing programs to re-integrate formerly incarcerated Black men−those who have been assessed by the Department of Corrections as the most likely to succeed and commit crime again—back into their families, neighborhoods and communities. The report also suggests that the city establish entrepreneurial training so that businesses run by ex-criminals can help to employ the unemployed and reduce recidivism.
Advice for single Black females, based on the numbers: Start looking outside of your race.