La Shawn Barber

I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves. – Harriet Tubman

The physical chains of American slavery may be broken, but the mental chains are still there. That's the message of filmmaker Janks Morton's 84-minute documentary, What Black Men Think.

Stereotypes and myths perpetuated by the government, the media, and so-called black leadership about black men fuel an "undeclared civil war" between black men and women, according to Morton. The film features man-on-the-street interviews, interspersed with commentary from conservative and moderate black writers like Shelby Steele, actor Joseph C. Phillips, Jesse L. Peterson, John McWhorter, Armstrong Williams, FOX News analyst Juan Williams, former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele, Mychal Massie, and Earl Ofari Hutchinson.

Morton was inspired to make the documentary after hearing an alarming and well-known statistic. While watching a C-SPAN debate between Juan Williams and professor and author Michael Eric Dyson, he heard Williams say that 70 percent of black babies were born out of wedlock. Morton said he didn't believe him until he looked it up.

But Morton found that other statistics, just as alarming, were misleading. For instance, the Justice Policy Institute released a study in 2002 that became big news. According to the study, there were more black men in prison than in college. Morton dug deeper and found that there were 805,000 black men in college and 757,000 in prison that year. But Morton believed the more relevant statistic was how many black men of college age were in prison. He looked at the numbers for 2005 and found there were 473,000 black men between the ages of 18 and 24 in college and 106,000 in prison.

What Black Men Think also attempts to deflate the hype surrounding interracial marriage. What percentage of black men marry white women? Some people interviewed guessed as high as 30 percent, but the actual figure is 5.3 percent. With the government's own statistics, Morton tackles other misperceptions and reveals the truth about the percentage of black men who graduate from high school, infect black women with HIV because of "down low" behavior, and pay child support.


La Shawn Barber

Freelance writer La Shawn Barber blogs at the American Civil Rights Institute blog.