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Social Work With African American Males

Health, Mental Health, and Social Policy

Edited by Waldo E. Johnson, Jr.

Publication Date - May 2010

ISBN: 9780195314366

360 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

Examines the contemporary status of African American males from adolescence to adulthood.


African American males have never fared as poorly as they do currently on a number of social indicators. They are less likely to complete high school than their white male and female or African American female peers, they are more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms, and they have fewer sanctioned coping strategies. Arguably, no other group in American society has been more maligned, regularly faced with tremendous odds that uniquely threaten their existence. When they do receive education, mental health, and physical health services, it is often in correctional settings. They are marginalized in public policies on secondary and higher education attainment, marriage and parental expectations, public welfare, health, housing, and community development. Yet they remain overlooked in health and social science research and are stereotyped in the popular media.

Taking a step back from the traditionally myopic view of African American males as criminals and hustlers, this groundbreaking book provides a more nuanced and realistic portrait of their experiences in the world. Chapter authors, both established and emerging scholars of social problems relevant to African Americans, offer a comprehensive overview of the social and economic data on black males to date and the significant issues that affect them from adolescence to adulthood. Via in-depth qualitiative interviews as well as comprehensive surveys and data sets, their physical, mental, and spiritual health and emerging family roles are considered within both individual and communal contexts. Chapters cover health issues such as HIV and depression; fatherhood and family roles; suicide; violence; academic achievement; and incarceration.

With original research and a special eye toward enhancing social work and social welfare intervention practice with this often overlooked subpopulation of American society, this volume will be of great interest to researchers interested in African American issues, students, practitioners, and policy makers.


  • First look at African American males as underserved citizens from the perspective of social welfare
  • Offers a broader perspective on the status of African American males that is both more encompassing and more nuanced
  • Mix of both high-quality qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Features work from both seasoned and emerging scholars in the field of social work and social welfare

About the Author(s)

Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., PhD, is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration and Faculty Affiliate of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago.


"This unique volume, through careful original research, explores how African American males respond to the challenges and barriers they face in their day-to-day struggles to survive. The chapters cover a range of issues in the experiences of these men, including their developmental transitions, their physical and mental health, their family roles, and the impact of incarceration on their own lives and the lives of their families. The chapter authors not only provide compelling evidence on the contemporary status of African American males, they also present thoughtful reflections on the policy implications of their research's findings." --William Julius Wilson, PhD, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard University

"Dr. Waldo Johnson, a leader in social work research, has compiled a powerful volume of thoughtful reviews and empirical research on the status of men of color. His book lays out the complex challenges they face while charting a hopeful path towards practice and policy solutions. This work is essential for anyone whose work touches the lives of men of color." --John A. Rich, MD, MPH, Professor and Chair, Health Management and Policy, Drexel University School of Public Health

"This volume brings together in one place an unprecedented collection of resources for practitioners dealing with the distinctive needs of one of the poorest groups in American society, African American males. Chapters filled with quantitative and qualitative data lay out the issues in cogent and arresting detail. Other chapters then provide a much-needed overview and discussion of existing programs and contemporary policy issues." --Mercer L. Sullivan, PhD, Associate Professor, Rutgers School of Criminal Justice

"This strengths-based book does not sugarcoat the issues that society faces, yet it offers hope. Answers are in the chapters. Every social worker should own a copy." -- Social Service Review

Table of Contents

    1. From Shortys to Old Heads: Contemporary Social Trajectories of African American Males Across the Life Course, Waldo E. Johnson, Jr.

    Part I. African American Males' Individual and Family Roles

    2. Making Room for Daddy: The Unmarried Adolescent Father's Role in Pregnancy, Constance M. Dallas and Karen Kavanaugh

    3. Intergenerational Support and Reciprocity Between Low-Income African American Fathers and Their Aging Mothers, Kevin M. Roy, Omari L. Dyson, and Ja-Nee Jackson

    4. Life after PRWORA: The Involvement of African American Fathers With Welfare-Reliant Children and the Child Support Enforcement System, David J. Pate

    5. Men Do Matter: The Socially Supportive Role of the African American "Uncle" in the Lives of Single-Female Headed Households and At-Risk African American Male Youth, Joseph B. Richardson, Jr.

    6. Academic Achievement, Peer Influences, and Sexual Behaviors Among High School African American Adolescent Boys, Dexter R. Voisin and Torsten B. Neilands

    Part II. Educational Issues Facing African American Males

    7. Promising Practices: The Positive Effects of After-School Programs for African American Male Development and Educational Progress, Reginald Clark, Alexes Harris, Kimberly A. White-Smith, Walter R. Allen, and Barbara A. Ray

    8. Academic Engagement of Black Male Student Athletes: Implications for Practice in Secondary and Postsecondary Schooling, Eddie Comeaux

    Part III. Mental and Physical Health Statuses and Challenges to African American Male Development and Social Functioning

    9. What are Depressed African American Adolescent Males Saying about Mental Health Services and Providers?, Michael A. Lindsey and Fatima Mirza

    10. Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope: Stress, Coping, and Problem Behaviors Among Young African American Males, M. Daniel Bennett, Jr. and Finake Olugbala

    11. Health and Young African American Men: An Inside View, Joseph E. Ravenell

    12. Health and Health Care Service Use Among Middle-Class Black Men, Sherrill L. Sellers, Vence Bonham, Harold W. Neighbors, and Shuntay McCoy

    13. At the Intersection of HIV/AIDS Disparities: Young African American Men who Have Sex With Men, Brian Mustanki, Amy Stauffer, and Robert Garofalo

    14. Suicide Among African Americans: A Male's Burden, Sean Joe

    Part IV. Life Chances: Violence and Incarceration Among African American Males

    15. Cultural Interventions for Reducing Violence Among Young, African American Males, Lance Williams

    16. Incarceration and Family Formation, Charles E. Lewis, Jr.

    17. Understanding the Economic Costs of Incarceration for African American Males, Mark L. Joseph

    Part V. Conclusion

    18. The African American Male: The Social Policy Challenge of the 21st Century, Earl S. Johnson, III and Waldo E. Johnson, Jr.

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