2024 | PITTSBURGH, PA
Confronting trauma in education & Beyond: Charting a pathway forward for black men & boys
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - the location for the 2024 International Colloquium on Black Males in Education - is a microcosm of the disparate outcomes between White and Black residents in cities across the United States and the world.
Despite being repeatedly ranked as one of the “most liveable cities in the United States” by Economist’s Global Livability Ranking, quality of life is not experienced equally by all Pittsburgh residents.
A 2020 report conducted by a city-appointed Gender Equity commission to examine inequality across gender and race found that Pittsburgh ranks below national averages for Black men on several indicators, particularly outcomes related to health and employment.
Eighty-five percent of comparable cities have higher Black employment than Pittsburgh, where only 49 percent of Black men are employed compared to 67 percent of White men. Within the city, Black men are also the least likely to be employed and the most likely to be looking for work. Black men make only seventy cents for every dollar earned by a White man, Black women make sixty-three cents. Occupational segregation plays a considerable role in income-based disparities, with jobs that pay less than $30,000 per year disproportionately filled by Pittsburgh’s Black population. Pittsburgh’s Black male workforce is more occupationally concentrated than 99 percent of other cities.
These workforce and income disparities translate into high poverty rates for Black residents, higher in Pittsburgh than 96 percent of US cities. Black boys in particular are more than six times more likely to live in poverty than White boys. Ninety-eight percent of cities have more equality between White and Black boys than Pittsburgh.
When it comes to education, high educational attainment is not translating into employment experiences for Black men. Pittsburgh’s Black men are more educated than Black men in 60 percent of similar cities, with an above average number of Black male residents holding both bachelor’s and graduate degrees.
Despite higher levels of educational attainment than comparable cities, large disparities in educational outcomes remain. White residents in Pittsburgh are three times more likely than Black residents to have a bachelor’s degree and Black men are nearly 2.5 times more likely than White students to drop out of high school. Sixteen percent of Black men in Pittsburgh do not have a high school diploma or GED.
Educational disparities have remained persistent despite historical efforts to reduce them. In 1992, a complaint against the School District of Pittsburgh was filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) charging that the district violated sections of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act related to educational outcomes for Black students. The district and the Advocates for African American Students, the group that filed the claim, reached a Conciliation Agreement in September 2006. This original agreement included 94-action steps that address how the district can reduce the achievement gap, provide instructional support, and create an environment of equity for its Black students. In 2012, following a review, the PHRC concluded the district had not achieved sufficient progress to justify termination of the agreement. As a result, the District and PHRC agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for an additional two years of monitoring. In 2015, the PHRC and District entered into a new MOU set to expire on August 30, 2020. The new MOU required that the district provide a detailed implementation plan for advancing educational equity.
These efforts have not translated into vastly improved outcomes. The 2020 report by the city-appointed Gender Equity Commission found that zero percent of Black students received a passing score on at least one Advanced Placement (AP) exam, White students are almost five times more likely to be selected for gifted and talented programs as Black students, and Black boys are nearly twice as likely to be held back as their White peers.
Alarming levels of disciplinary action are also negatively impacting Black students. One in five Black girls and one in three Black boys enrolled in Pittsburgh public schools are suspended at least once during the school year. Black boys are 4.5 times more likely to be suspended than White girls. Pittsburgh public schools refer more students to police than 95 percent of school districts in similar cities. For Black students, police referrals and arrests are 3 to 5 times the rates of their White classmates.
Join us as we bring together scholars, practitioners, policy makers, and community members to examine these issues and generate intellectual thought, discussion, and ideas that can be implemented to serve and improve the experiences of Black males in Pittsburgh and throughout the world.
"If Black residents got up today and left and moved to the majority of any other cities in the U.S., automatically by just moving, their life expectancy would go up, their income would go up, their educational opportunities for their children would go up as well as their employment.”
Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh and member of Pittsburgh Gender Equity Commission
Key statistics on black men & boys in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh's Black workforce is more occupationally segregated than 99 percent of comparable cities.
Jobs that makes less than $30,000 per year are disproportionately filled by Pittsburgh's Black population.
Police referrals and arrests for Black students in Pittsburgh public schools are 3-5 times higher than referrals for White students.
One in three Black boys and one in five Black girls enrolled in Pittsburgh Public Schools are suspended at least once during the school year.
Black male students in Pittsburgh are nearly 2.5 times more likely than White male students to drop out of high school.
Sixteen percent of Black men in Pittsburgh do not have a high school diploma or GED.