In July 2013, I found myself uncharacteristically tongue-tied. Person after person asked for my reaction to the verdict in George Zimmerman's trial. Over and over, I avoided answering. My challenge wasn't a lack of thoughts; they just didn't fit into the narrow space in which we are allowed to consider the stretched lives of black men in America. I suspect a great many of us feel this way. We think about Trayvon Martin or Jordan Davis or Oscar Grant--or, if we're black, likely someone in our family who died early and needlessly--and we are paralyzed by the immense odds those men faced in the first place. We know that their deaths cannot truly be understood without first examining the context of their lives. Throughout 2014, Colorlines is examining that context.

Each month, from May to November, we are publishing a package of content focused on a life stage or event that for black men in the United States is uniquely confined by broad, societal inequities.  We certainly won't cover the breadth of the black male experience; we won't even exhaust the range of inequities that impact our lives. Rather, we've focused our efforts primarily on places where existing data shows a profound relationship between poor outcomes and being a black man. We hope simply to join a broader dialogue about these inequities, and help inform a public conversation about solutions.  

You can find all of the content below, including each month's short documentary, directed by award winning filmmaker André Robert Lee. If you find one compelling, please share it widely, and join the discussion about the series online with #LivesOfBlackMen.

--Kai Wright, series editor

 

CHAPTER 7: LIFE & DEATH

 

 

lifespan_lead-thumb-120x120-12151.jpg

9 CHARTS THAT FORCE THE QUESTION, DOES BLACK LIFE MATTER?

When measured by the blunt calculus of mortality, being black in the U.S. is a killer.
By Kai Wright and Erin Zipper

 

CHAPTER 6: FATHERHOOD

 

 

lifecycles_fatherhood_cornish-thumb-120x120-11912.jpg

THE UNTOLD STORY OF BLACK FATHERHOOD

The constant refrain about a crisis of black fatherhood obscures out a far more complex reality in black families.
By Stacia L. Brown

lifecycles_franklin_lead-thumb-120x120-11927.jpg

A NEW IMAGE OF BLACK FATHERHOOD [PHOTOS]

Intimate portraits of black dads and their kids refocus the distorting lens of mainstream media.
By Marcus Franklin

 

CHAPTER 5: ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

 

lifecycles_investment_lead-thumb-120x120-11794.jpg

6 WAYS THE WHITE HOUSE CAN HELP TRULY KEEP OUR BROTHERS

Let's get specific about what the Obama administration can do in the next two years to fix generations worth of divestment in black men.
By Imara Jones

 

CHAPTER 4: CREATING CULTURE

 

 

riseyoung_lifecycles-thumb-120x120-11553.jpg

THE HIP HOP HUSTLE, THEN AND NOW

A conversation with the pioneering artists who first sold mix tapes on the streets of New York City.
By Jay Smooth

gaskin_lead_lifecycles-thumb-120x120-11532.jpg

BLACK, QUEER AND IN VOGUE [PHOTOS]

Pop culture has spent decades mining the house ballroom scene for inspiration--without recognition, or pay.
By Kai Wright and Gerard Gaskin

 

CHAPTER 3: CRIME & JUSTICE

 

jeremy_lifecycles_lead-thumb-120x120-11186.jpg

CRIMINALS, VICTIMS & THE BLACK MEN LEFT BEHIND

Young, black men in Chicago are far more likely to be touched by violent crime than any other group. But they're not innocent enough to get help.
By Carla Murphy

Colorlines_TwitterChat_2-thumb-120x120-11251.jpg

TWITTER CHAT: THE AFTERMATH OF GUN VIOLENCE

Highlights from a Colorlines community dialogue on the linger impact of violence in black neighborhoods.
By Stacia L. Brown

 

CHAPTER 2: FINDING WORK

 

dorian_moody_lead-thumb-120x120-10964.jpeg

WHY YOUNG, BLACK MEN CAN'T WORK

It's not just criminal records. The job market for recent high school graduates is shaped profoundly by race and gender.
By Kai Wright

top-hands-on-hood-thumb-120x120-10965.jpg

PHOTOS: A DAY IN THE SHOP

Young men in Newark train for auto technician jobs--the kind of high-wage work that is often segregated by race. 
By Aura Bogado

Colorlines_TwitterChat_2-thumb-120x120-11251

TWITTER CHAT: THE LONG, HARD JOB HUNT

Highlights from a Colorlines community dialogue on inequity in the labor market for high school graduates.
By Stacia L. Brown


 

CHAPTER 1: HIGH SCHOOL

 

BMRP_Cox3-thumb-120x120-10671.jpg

RACE, DISABILITY & THE SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE

A nascent program in Oakland tries to disentangle the threads that pull black boys out of classrooms and into jail.
By Juilanne Hing

DisabilityToCriminality_ArticleImage3-thumb-120x120-10691.jpg

INFOGRAPHIC: FROM DISABILITY TO CRIMINALITY

An illustration of the dangerous intersection at which too many black children are diverted from school to jail. 
By Erin Zipper