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It is believed that the ideas proposed here should identify the target audience when drafted into policy: Black males. It should be made unapologetically clear that these are not just for people of color, the poor, etc.
1) Family Court Reform
The Family Court’s treatment of Black men has unfairly and drastically diminished Black men and boy’s quality of life by privileging women as the primary caregivers.
a) Child Custody
This includes automatic 50/50 child custody as long as fathers can prove what mothers are required to as far as being able to provide a stable and safe living environment. Once determined, pre-existing income-based alimony/child support judgements levied against Black men should be re-assessed.
b) Mandatory Paternity Testing at Birth
Prior to signing the birth certificate, newborn children should be given a DNA test to assure the parentage of the father, thus avoiding men being unjustly responsible for supporting children under false pretenses.
Once determined that the father has been misled regarding the child’s parentage (no matter how long it has been), he should be excused from both the birth certificate and child support; the exploited party should be subject to legally-sanctioned reimbursement from the mother, the biological father, and relevant city/state/federal government.
c) Reinstituting AT-FAULT divorce standards.**
In alignment with gynocentric family court policies, no-fault divorce negatively impacted Black men by authorizing a massive shift in marital culture that dramatically underdeveloped them economically.
d) Financial Abortion**
As we understand the law, it is a woman’s right to choose whether or not she will carry a baby to term, put the child up for adoption, or abort it. Within the first 6 months after being informed about the pregnancy, men should have the right to financially disassociate themselves from the pregnancy.
e) Child Support Value System**
Instituting a system where goods, services, and time spent with a child is calculated and valued at a dollar amount (any remaining deficit to be paid in cash).
Post-divorce, men should be entitled to the life they have been accustomed to in marriage. Thus, any judgement or consent determination made must ensure that the husband can enjoy the same privileges and lifestyle enjoyed BEFORE or DURING the marriage whichever costs more to maintain.**
g) Require Formal Child Support Management Reports
Ensure that child support payments are earmarked specifically for approved child-related expenses only. Payments used on non-child related expenses must be accounted for by the custodial parent.- Xavier B.
h) Prohibit Jailing for Failure to Pay Child Support*****
Such incarceration frequently punishes men for being poor more than anything else. This, in turn, increases Black male unemployment and further hurts families’ economic stability.
i) Income Floor for Child Support*
- There should be a set minimum income for anyone on child support.
- If someone is chronically under this floor in terms of income, then state governments should provide opportunities for them to intern at an apprenticeship in a trade.
- Only if they quit and refuse to work in an apprenticeship should they be incarcerated.
j) Child Support and Alimony Assistance Program**
Where it can be proven that a man’s Child Support and Alimony Judgement requirements are causing a practical impact on his standard of living, the State government and municipality shall pay the cost in whole or in part (but no less than 66%) of the total cost of the child support and alimony payments.
k) Tax Filing Options
At income tax time, many women “sell” their children’s social security numbers to friends, family members, etc.; either when the mother is not working, or has maxed out her 2-child benefit to receive income credits. Thus,
- Whenever a 3rd party submits tax returns claiming care of another person’s child, any child support orders to the mother of stated child, should be rendered void. (Or, denial of the 3rd party’s claims on the child as a dependent. (This should fall under saving tax dollars). The natural question should be, why is the mother being paid for a child under the care of 3rd party?
- Welfare benefits and incentives for women fuel the single mother phenomenon. So, to eliminate welfare contingencies (or to incentivize contingencies for fathers), stop subsidizing single mothers.
- Any child support paid should be considered earned income (due to it being taxed). Women are allowed to claim child support as an extra earned income that improves their credit and ability to finance vehicles and other products and services. Men who pay child support are not allowed to claim payments made when filing taxes even when the amount can be a third to even 50% of their earned income.
- We advocate policy that exempts child support payments from the applicant’s gross income when they apply for public housing and or housing assistance. The payment is counted as income for the custodial parent and counted in the gross income for the non-custodial parent, their gross income dictates their acceptance into the program and their rent amount. Some men may not qualify due to their gross income being over the limit, but he may not actually bring that amount home due to child support payments. His rent maybe exceptionally higher, since HUD states that 30% of gross income should go to rent. This leads to a plethora of issues for many Brothers in my community such as Black Male homelessness, joblessness, and the propagating of children born out of wedlock.*******
Educational institutions play a huge role in influencing Black boys and men from pre-school through graduate school. Yet the discrimination and underdevelopment they experience at the hands of teachers, practices, the administrative bureaucracy, and educational policies that do a great disservice to the supposed mission to educate Black males.
a) Single Sex Pedagogy & Institutions
As there is documentation to suggest that Black boys perform better in all-male environments—(particularly under male teachers), it is proposed that boys be educated in environments that are all male, preferably Black, and rooted in a pedagogy that seeks to improve their performance by prioritizing their history, culture, and gender.
b) Preparatory Reading/STEM Educational Support
Ten percent of city, state, and federally targeted resources for incarceration be diverted to educational afterschool programs for ADOS boys. Even funds earmarked for special education can be used to draft male college-level teaching assistants to create an all-male educational support structure. Also provide tax breaks for private companies who may philanthropically donate materials, tech, etc. Lastly, cable/internet companies to be incentivized by federal/tax policy to provide free high-speed internet.
3) Affirmative Action (* and ******)
Double minority status for Black males where they have access to employment and higher payment income floors based on their race and gender. This is in response to generations of policies that disproportionately disadvantaged Black males on the basis of their race and gender—most particularly Affirmative Action practices from the 1980s onward that prioritized white women and Black women over Black men.
4) Targeted Homelessness Programs
Especially post-incarceration, Black men should be prioritized for housing as they are most often turned away despite having a housing vouchers. Consequently, as Black America constituted half of America’s homeless (pre-COVID), and remain disproportionately homeless, the majority of the homeless (across race) tend to be male. This makes Black males the most susceptible group to homelessness.
5) Targeted Unemployment Programs
As Black males experience unemployment at rates over 40-50% in over 34 major cities prior to COVID, they need advocacy and policy that prioritizes their employment on both racial and gendered grounds.
6) Law Enforcement
Law enforcement has been a major barrier, and at times the source of, injustice for Black men.
a) Criminal Sentencing Reform
Black men should be arrested and sentenced to no greater degree than any other members of any race who commit the same crimes.
b) Licensing Law Enforcement***
“Law enforcement professionals have a revocable license that can be permanently stripped to keep them out of the profession like lawyers, doctors, etc.” Police are protected under the ruling of police protection from incriminating information or keeping their job. Can save plenty of BM.”- Anonymous
c) Proxy Violence
Recognition of proxy violence as a criminal offense, punishable by no less than 50% of the primary offense prison time.**
d) End “Qualified Immunity”
Often negotiated into union contracts, qualified immunity is a legal principle that grants government officials (especially law enforcement) performing discretionary functions immunity from civil suits unless the plaintiff shows that the official violated “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known”.
e) Jury Nullification
“Jury nullification (US) generally occurs when members of a criminal trial jury believe that a defendant is guilty, but choose to acquit the defendant anyway, because the jurors consider that the law itself is unjust, that the prosecutor has misapplied the law in the defendant’s case, or that the potential punishment for breaking the law is too harsh. Some juries have also refused to convict due to their own prejudices in favour of the defendant.” (Wikipedia)
Jury nullification disproportionately affects Black men. Thus, 30% of the jury should be Black men. More specifically, when an ADOS man has to go before a jury, 30% of that jury must be of his peers who would be ADOS men.”
f) False Accusations
There should be clear and more stringent punishments for filing false charges against Black men. Knowing that Black men are denigrated, stereotyped, and wrongfully convicted more than (and to greater degrees) than others, such accusations can have a more far-reaching and detrimental impact on Black men’s lives. Black men are the most exonerated group due to false accusations according to the National Registry of Exonerations Newkirk Center for Science and Society, University of California Irvine. They state,
“African Americans are only 13% of the American population but a majority of innocent defendants wrongfully convicted of crimes and later exonerated. They constitute 47% of the 1,900 exonerations listed in the National Registry of Exonerations (as of October 2016), and the great majority of more than 1,800 additional innocent defendants who were framed and convicted of crimes in 15 large-scale police scandals and later cleared in “group exonerations.”(p. 1)
Thus, whimsically dangerous charges with questionable/unreliable evidence (or no evidence at all) should be harshly dealt with to dissuade others from repeating this act against an already vulnerable population.
g) Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility*****
The minimum age of criminal responsibility in the US raised to at least 18 years of age. Most states do not have a lower age limit to where a person can be charged, prosecuted, sentenced, etc. for a statutory offense. The states that do specify an age floor, mostly range between 7 to 10 years of age. Such legal precedents contribute greatly to the criminalization of black boys.
- h) End Law Enforcement Collaboration***
Prohibits state and local officers from using federal databases to search for prior criminal records when in the process of questioning or apprehending a Black male. Officers more often than not decide their level of aggression based on one’s alleged prior history. There is legislative precedent for such a law already as California has adopted it under designation SB54 to protect illegal immigrants.
7) Intimate Partner Violence/Homicide Policy Reform
Despite stereotypes that intimate partner violence/homicide aggression is the sole purview of Black males, it is nigh equal (bidirectional) in the Black community (meaning men assault women to the same degree men assault women, and the numbers of intraracial IPV homicide amongst the 40+ million Black population is negligible), with data suggesting that women (across race) initiate violence first while opting to use weapons more often than men.
a) Abolishing the Duluth Model.**
“…the Duluth Model is the most common batterer intervention program used in the United States. Critics argue that the method can be ineffective as it was developed without minority communities in mind and can fail to address root psychological or emotional causes of abuse, in addition to completely neglecting male victims and female perpetrators of abuse.” (Wikipedia)
More than ignoring male victims, the Duluth Model proposed that men were de facto guilty of being the primary abusers of women whenever a woman experienced some form of intimate partner violence. It ignored women’s greater capacity to initiate violence and/or be aggressors of IPV.
b) IPV Carceral Practices
Black men incarcerated for IPV require a massive re-evaluation of their status in relation to their victimization at the hands women. As rates of bidirectional abuse in the Black community suggest equal violence initiated by women to men (w=>m) and from men to women (m=>w) and the hypo-sentencing of women for the same crime as men by up to 63%, the under-representation of female aggressors suggests a massive bias in sentencing that disproportionately targets and criminalizes men.
c) Sexual Assault/Rape Acknowledgment**
Includes legally recognizing the withholding of sex as a form of sexual abuse in marriage. That said, such an acknowledgement might allow for less punitive access to annulments and divorce options. (Also requires that all rape allegations require traditional standards of adequate evidence prior to arrest and sentencing.**)
8) Health: Targeted Cancer Campaigning, Treatment and Recognition
Black men are diagnosed with cancer at slightly less rates than WM and WW but die from it more than WM, WW, and BW. (Especially in Arkansas, Alabama, Connecticut, DC, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, and most especially in Wisconsin. The scales for measuring Black male cancer is 3x larger per 100K.)
9) Targeted Small Business Support
Commensurate with our status in society, and taking into account the lack of capital and inherited wealth, Black male-owned businesses should be targeted (particularly during COVID) for support.
10) Social Security & Life Insurance Family Support
Accrued social security and life insurance from deceased Black males should be partly applied to children and grandchildren (when applicable).****
11) Paternity Leave
“Parental Leave” for fathers on a federal level and applied nationally across the board. As Black men have been designated the most participatory fathers across race in a recent study articulated by Josh Levs in his text, All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families, and Businesses–And How We Can Fix It Together (2015), their lack of access to parental leave is unjust.
12) Reverse Voter Disenfranchisement
Allow Black male ex-convicts to have their voting rights restored upon release from incarceration. For context, review the origins of voter disenfranchisement for convicts:
“The historical context for this comes from old English common law which justified the concept of “civil death” as punishment for conviction of treason or a felony because a person committing a crime had “corrupt blood,” making the person “dead in the law.” America did not immediately adopt this position because the Constitution was silent on voting rights — it neither granted nor denied anyone the right to vote.
In 1787, the Constitution considered Black people as three-fifths of a human being. Blacks voting was not an issue. Then came the Civil War and the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Enslaving people, except as punishment for a crime, was illegal. Birthright U.S. citizenship was established, explicitly including freed enslaved people. Black men got the right to vote. Over 2,000 Black men were elected to government offices, and they began purchasing or homesteading property and voting.
America responded. The exception in the 13th Amendment allowing slavery as punishment for a crime was paired with “Black Codes,” which basically criminalized Black life. Blacks convicted under Black Code laws were leased out to do work, providing cheap labor to boost the South’s faltering economy. In 1850, 2% of prisoners in Alabama were non-white. By 1870, it was 74%. At least 90% of the “leased” prison laborers were Black.
In the 15 years between 1865 and 1880, at least 13 states — more than a third of the country’s 38 states — enacted broad felony disenfranchisement laws. The theory was simple — convict them of crimes, strip away the right to vote, imprison them, and lease them out as convict labor and Blacks would be returned to a condition as close to slavery as possible.
What is the result of this history? Black Americans of voting age are more than four times as likely to lose their voting rights than the rest of the adult population. One of every 13 Black adults is disenfranchised. In some states like Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and, until recently, Florida, one in five Blacks have been disenfranchised. In total, 2.2 million Black citizens are banned from voting. Thirty-eight percent of the disenfranchised population in America is Black.” (Jeffery Robinson, The Racist Roots of Denying Incarcerated People Their Right to Vote.)
13) Black Male Specific Reparations for the Trans-AtlanticSlave Trade through 21st Century Hyperincarceration
Reparations is a crucially overlooked area that has required redress since the late 19th century. Due to the United States’ treatment of Black men specifically, practices deemed legal dramatically targeted and impacted Black male life in a manner distinct from the rest of Black America altogether (see Jim Sidanius’ work on Social Dominance Theory for more detail on “outgroup male treatment”).
a) Reparations should give Black men specific focus due to:
1) the exclusivity of treatment from the onset of slavery to (roughly) 1800, a time period where Black males were sought after to a greater degree than the even Black women for enslavement,
2) their prioritization in lynching and terrorist mistreatment,
3) the designation that they only were allowed 3/5th a vote when given the right, then terrorized not to even be able to use it,
4) the targeted campaign to be brutalized and killed by law enforcement, and
5) the target of hyper-incarceration policies from Reconstruction (convict leasing) through to the 1970s (prison industrial complex) to now.
b) Targeted Wealth Declines
Due to the impact of educational inequalities, neighborhood effects, workplace discrimination, parenting, access to credit, rates of incarceration, and many other factors, research has shown that Black males are more likely to experience
“…race gaps in intergenerational mobility largely reflect the poor outcomes for black men. The report is another contribution to the growing literature showing that race gaps in the intergenerational persistence of poverty are in large part the result of poor outcomes for black men. Specifically, Chetty et al. show that black men born to low-income parents are much more likely to end up with a low individual income than black women, white women, and—especially—white men.“
That said, reparations for Black males should be commensurate with what they’ve experienced both contemporarily and historically.
14) The United Nations: We Charge the U.S. With the Genocide of the Black Male
According to the United Nations‘ definition, and much of what’s listed here, Black men have been subjugated, neglected, targeted, and killed to great enough degree to warrant an investigation that covers both contemporary and historical mistreatment.
****Stuart D. Knight
*******Chief in the South