MHMNC Publications

Breaking the cycle: Overcoming challenges faced by Black boys and men

Policy Publications 

Social Work needs more men of color

Author: Linda Burton
Publication Date: January 2021

" In doing this work, I continued to notice the absence of men of color, not just in these communities, but also in the ranks of those who surveilled African American boys and directed them into the criminal justice and social welfare systems. Women, most often White women, were typically filling those roles and directing the cases of African American males, which shaped their lives in ways the social workers didn’t fully grasp. As a consequence, I observed that they often fell short of providing these young males with the guidance and support that was critical to their positive growth and development."

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Breaking the cycle: Overcoming challenges faced by Black boys and men 

The challenges facing Black men - and the case for action

Authors: Richard V. Reeves, Sarah Nzau, and Ember Smith
Publication Date: November 2020

“To be male, poor, and either African-American or Native-American is to confront, on a daily basis, a deeply held racism that exists in every social institution,” writes our Brookings colleague Camille Busette. “No other demographic group has fared as badly, so persistently and for so long.” To meet this “appalling crisis,” Camille calls for nothing less than “a New Deal for Black men.”

Creating this New Deal is one of the core priorities of the Race, Prosperity and Inclusion Initiative, directed by Camille, but also of the new Boys and Men Project launched today out of the Center on Children and Families. The elements of this New Deal will likely consist of intentional policymaking in the fields of education and training, the labor market, family policy (especially for fathers), criminal justice reform, and tackling concentrated poverty. 

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6 policies to address social problems affecting Black boys and men

Author: Ashleigh Maciolek
Publication Date: December 2020

Last month, the Center on Children and Families and the Race, Prosperity, and Inclusion Initiative hosted an event to review the unique situation of Black men in the United States and to discuss possible policy directions for improving their social and economic outcomes and opportunities. The unique challenges facing Black boys and men require a specific set of policy responses, from the earliest days of life through adulthood.

 A key theme of the event was that policymakers must pay particular attention to the intersection of institutionalized racism and sexism in society and they must be intentional with their support for Black boys and men. Anything less than systemic change will allow the current system to continue to function as it was originally designed—to the detriment of Black men. To that end, the experts identified six key policy areas to systemically address the challenges Black boys and men face:

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A New Deal for poor African-American and Native-American boys

Author: Camille Busette
Publication Date: March 2018

The U.S. is facing a national crisis. It is virtually guaranteed that if you are poor, male, African-American or Native-American, you have a disproportionally high likelihood of ending up in prison, unemployed, or both. In a new paper by my colleague, Adam Looney, and his co-author, Nicholas Turner, intended to analyze post-incarceration employment, the authors find that:

“Almost one-third of all 30-year-old men who aren’t working are either in prison, in jail, or are former prisoners…Boys who grew up in families in the bottom 10 percent of the income distribution were 20 times more likely to be in prison on a given day in their early 30s than children born in top ten percent of families…Prisoners are also disproportionately likely to have grown up in socially isolated and segregated neighborhoods with high rates of child poverty and in predominantly African-American or American Indian neighborhoods.”

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What about the boys? Education boys for gender justice

Author: Nora Fyles
Publication Date: June 2018

When I first began hearing the comment “what about the boys” in discussions about girls’ education I dismissed it as gender biased, and a desire to stop efforts to ensure equal access for all girls and boys. But as the trends in gender disparities have started to shift, and our goal posts changed from gender parity to gender equality, I have needed to rethink my earlier response to the question about “the boys”.

Last month UNGEI published a blog highlighting our new understanding of the changing nature of the gender gap in education. In many regions, the gender gap is at the expense of boys, particularly at the secondary level and for those from the poorest families. Yet as increasing numbers of women and girls gain access to and progress through education, they continue to face discrimination in schools, communities, homes, and the workplace. We have learned through experience that an exclusive focus on girls’ education does not allow us to address the deep structures of gender inequality that are reinforced in and through education. In parallel to tackling issues that marginalize girls, we know there is a need for more focus on the harmful gender norms that disadvantage both girls and boys.

Full Article Here >>> 

Beyond Plight: Defining Pathways to Optimal Development FOR Black MEN and BOYS Across the Life Course

 ABFE_Document_portrait_FINAL.indd (issuelab.org)

Intervention Publications

  • Boyd-Franklin, N. (2003). Black families in therapy: Understanding the African American experience. Guildford Press. 
  • DeGruy, J. (2005). Post-traumatic slave syndrome: America’s legacy of enduring injury and healing. Uptone Press. 
  • Elswick, S., Peterson, C., Washington, G., & Barnes, E.(2023). Best practices in Tele- 
  • behavioral health with Children and Adolescents. In Wilkerson, D.A., & O’Sullivan,  
  • L. (Eds.). Social work in an online world. Washington, D.C., NASW Press. (March  
  • 2023) 
  • Elswick, S., Washington, G., Mangrum, H., Peterson, C., Barnes, E. Pirkey, P., & Watson, J. (2021). The Trauma Healing Club: Utilizing Culturally Responsive Processes in the Implementation of a Group Intervention to Address African Refugees Trauma. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma. doi: 10.1007/s40653-021-00387-5 (Impact Factor: 1.71
  • Global Health Psychiatry, LLC (2018). Mind Matters: A resource guide to psychiatry for black communities. Create Space Independent Publishing Platform. 
  • Jackson, L.C. & Greene, B. (2000). Psychotherapy with African American women. The Guilford Press. 
  • Jones, G.L., Steppe, S. Washington, G., (2007). “The Role of Supervisors in Developing Clinical Decision-Making Skills in Child Protective Services (CPS)”. Evidence Base Social Work Practice Journal, 4 (3/4)103-116.
  • Martin, M. (2002). Saving our last nerve: The Black woman’s path to mental health. Hilton Publishing Company. 
  • Walker, R. (2020). The unapologetic guide to black mental health. New Harbinger. 
  • Washington, H.A. (2006). Medical Apartheid: The dark history of medical experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the present. Random House. 
  • Washington, G., Caldwell, L., Watson, J. and Lindsey, L. (2017). “African-American Rites of Passage Interventions: A Vehicle for Utilizing African-American Male Elders.” Journal of Human Behavior and the Social Environment, 27 (1-2), 100-109.
  • Washington, G. Barnes, D. & Watts, R. J. (2014). “Reducing Risk with Pyramid Mentoring: A Proposal for a Culturally-Centered Group Intervention”. Journal of Human Behavior and the Social Environment, 24 (6) 646-657.
  • Washington, G. (2014).  “Promoting the Health of Men: Concepts and Strategies” Journal of Human Behavior and the Social Environment, 24 (6), 643-645.  
  • Washington, G. & Johnson, T. (2012). “Positive Manhood Development: A Look at Approaches and Concerns from the Frontline”. Journal of Human Behavior and in the Social Environment, 22 (2) 172-187.
  • Washington, G., Watts, R.J. and Watson, J. (2005). “Manhood Seekers Camp: A Proposal for a Culturally-Centered Camp Intervention”. Journal of Adolescent and Child Residential Treatment, 23 (1/2)75-90.
  • Washington, G., Johnson, T., Jones, J. &Langs, S. (2007). “African-American Boys In Relative Care: A Culturally Centered Group Mentoring Approach”. Journal of Social Work in Groups, 30 (1) 45-69.  
  • Washington, G, Sullivan, M. & Washington, E. T. (2006). “TANF Policy: Past, Present and Future”. Journal of Health and Social Policy, 21(3)1-16.
  • Washington, G. & Teague, K. (2005). “Young African American Male Suicide Prevention and Spirituality”. Stress, Trauma and Crisis, 8 (2-3) 93-105.
  • Washington, G. (2005).” Young African-American Males and Culturally-Centered Prevention: Recommendations for Program Design”.  Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 10 (4)1-15.
  • Watson, J., Harden, T., & Washington, G. (2013). “Themes or Topics in Rites of Passages Curriculum”. Black Child Journal, Special Edition: Rites of Passages Foundations & Practices, Fall 156-169.
  • Watson. J., & Washington. G. (2015). “Kujichagulia-Self Determination: A Culturally Appropriate, Community and Family, Asset-based Youth Reclamation Project”. Black Child Journal, Fall 32-42.
  • Watson, J. & Washington, G.: Building a Movement with Black Men: Culture is the Key (2022). In Dyson, Y.D., Robinson-Dooley, V., Watson, J. (Eds). Black Men’s Health: A Strengths-Based Approach Through a Social Justice Lens for Helping Professions. Springer Press.
  • Watson, J., Washington, G., Simmons, L. D., and Akinyemi, H. (2017). “A Comprehensive Insight on Men Healing Men and Communities Network”. Journal of Depression and Anxiety, 6 (4), 1-6
  • Watson. J., Washington. G. & Stepteau-Watson, D. (2015). “Umoja: A Culturally Specific Approach to Mentoring Young African American Males”. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 32 (1), 81-90.
  • Williams, M.T., Rosen, D.C., & Kanter, J.W. (Eds.) (2019). Eliminating race-based mental health disparities. New Harbinger. 

Additional Resources

The Greatest White Privilege Is Life Itself

Like so many other black men in America, Elijah Cummings died too young.

Read this Article >>>

OCT 24, 2019

Who are America’s Poor Children? The Official Story

Authors: Vanessa R. Wight, Michelle Chau, and Yumiko Aratani
Publication Date: March 2011

Over 15 million American children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level, which is $22,050 a year for a family of four.1 The number of children living in poverty increased by 33 percent between 2000 and 2009. There are 3.8 million more children living in poverty today than in 2000.

Not only are these numbers troubling, the official poverty measure tells only part of the story. Research consistently shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice the federal poverty level to make ends meet.2 Children living in families with incomes below this level - for 2010, $44,100 for a family of four - are referred to as low income. Forty-two percent of the nation’s children - more than 31 million in 2009 - live in low-income families.3

Nonetheless, eligibility for many public benefits is based on the official poverty measure. This fact sheet describes some of the characteristics of American children who are considered poor by the official standard.  

Link to the Article >>>

Poverty Fact Sheets

The Department of Social Work in the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Memphis is dedicated to understanding poverty and its causes through research and engaged scholarship. Our purpose is to identify the most effective ways to eliminate poverty and promote social and economic development for our region. If you would like more information on Memphis poverty, please contact Dr. Elena Delavega at Poverty Fact Sheets The Department of Social Work in the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Memphis is dedicated to understanding poverty and its causes through research and engaged scholarship. Our purpose is to identify the most effective ways to eliminate poverty and promote social and economic development for our region. If you would like more information on Memphis poverty, please contact Dr. Elena Delavega at mdlavega@memphis.edu

Promoting Young Children's Health and Development

Trauma Faced by Military Families, What Every Policymaker Should Know

Empowerment Evaluation Workshops
Evaluation 101:Evaluation as an Opportunity!


Resources for Voting:

Voter Powerpoint

Resource List

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Helping formerly imprisoned Fathers transition back into fatherhood


Kuijichalia: Journal of the Black Child

African American rites of passage interventions: A vehicle for utilizing African American male elders

Umoja: A Culturally Specific Approach to Mentoring Young African American Males