Throughout 2014, Colorlines is examing the structural  inequities that shape the lives of black men. Too often, we zero in on black men only at thier point of premature death. Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant--and on it goes in a grim roll call. But what if these men had lived? What lives would they face? On a whole host of issues, the data suggets they'd have faced massive, sometimes insurmountable odds against safe, healthy and prosperous lives. Our "Life Cycles of Inequity" series focuses each month on a different life stage or event in which those odds have been shown to be particularly long, thanks to structural inequities that grow out of our nation's collective political and economic choices. 

This month, we step back and look at the bigger picture of this structural inequity. Colorlines' economic justice columnist Imara Jones often reminds us that the world in which we live isn't happenstance. Leaders make decisions, and they have consequences. Policies drive outcomes. As such, the outcomes we now see for so many black men have come from generations worth of bad policy choices. Over more than a century, black men have been excluded--either overtly or implicity--from the economic opportunity initiatives that have helped create an American middle class and saved millions from poverty. In the video above, Imara and graphic artist Tatiana Lam explain that history. 

We hope you'll watch it, share it with your networks and join the conversation in social media with #LivesOfBlackMen

--Kai Wright, series editor