Are Black Parents Supportive (Enough)?
(ThyBlackMan.com) I went home to Columbus, Ohio this past weekend and learned a little more about my hometown. You see, I went to a high school football game with my friend to support her little brother. Let me paint the picture for you:
Team 1: Suburbia
Team 2: Inner-city
The game was at home for the inner city school; my friend and I were on Suburbia’s side (as we previously attended that high school). As the game progressed, my friend made an observation.
“Look at the home team’s stands,” she looked across the field. “They’re empty.” And, sadly, they were. Compared to Suburbia’s side, the support for the home team was a disgrace. The number of supporting parents and/or relatives on “Inner City’s” side wasn’t even one-third of the blue-and-gold signs waving on “Suburbia’s” side.
And, if you haven’t put two-and-two together by now, Inner City’s football team (and supporting side) was majority black and Suburbia’s side, with the exception of a few minorities, was predominantly white.
Why the discrepancy?
My friend wondered if Inner City’s lack of support reflected on the team’s performance, and conversely, if the masses of parents and family members who showed up at an away game to support Suburbia led to the team’s 13-6 victory.
It also made me wonder: Do black parents adequately support their children, inside and outside the classroom?
Using this game as an example, I had to consider all the factors:
- Inner City was located in a low-income area (and school district). This may have an affect on transportation for both students and parents.
- Minorities make up the majority of Columbus City Schools, the city’s “urban school district”, enrollment. Minorities made up 75 percent of the student body population at the high school I graduated from (I transferred from Suburbia my senior year). And, unfortunately, minorities (especially blacks) have a high percentage of children born into single-parent homes. This means the parent or provider of the households could be working 2-3 jobs and is unable to attend after-school functions.
- Suburbia has a higher percentage of students coming from two-parent homes, meaning even if one parent cannot make an after-school function, another is available. It could also mean these students’ parents aren’t forced to spend their evenings working extra jobs to make ends meet, therefore freeing up “support time.”
- The game started at 7pm, so perhaps Inner City’s “support” was either still at work or caught in traffic.
- Also, this was a freshman high school game, not varsity. Most people don’t regularly show up for freshman games. Yet, my friend pointed out she’d at least expect a fuller crowd for Inner City because it was a home game.
In his book “Family Life and School Achievement: Why Poor Black Children Succeed or Fail,” Reginald Clark says working mothers, broken homes, poverty, racial or ethnic background, and poorly educated parents are the most common reasons given for the academic problems of lower income/poor urban children. But Clark claims a student’s academic success or failure is more so a product of his/her family’s culture (or lack thereof).
He claims things like when parents are actively involved in with a student’s school instructional program, there’s a greater likelihood of students becoming academically successful. He says if parents visit schools more often they’ll gain a better understanding about their student. With this knowledge, parents can assist the school with helping students to the fullest, Without this knowledge, parents and teachers may be at cross purposes or may each deal with the student in ignorance of the other setting (p.205).
Haven’t we all seen this before? A parent is ignorant to what’s going on at school so he/she tells a child one thing (how to act, what this means, etc.), and a teacher, ignorant of the student’s home life, tells him/her another.
Clark also says that the “supportive” or sponsoring relationship of parents to students is important for educational success. When parents provide high levels of support, guidance, and protection, the student’s educational pursuits become more manageable. And this stems from the parents’ understanding how their roles are “determinate entities” in their child’s academic progress. Without that support, students have an increased chance of failure (p.206).
Think about the changing dynamics of the black household; are more and more of black parents really becoming less and less supportive of their children? Or do the often socioeconomic statuses of most black households hold these parents at a disadvantage?
Staff Writer; Shala Marks
Service is her passion, writing is her platform, women and the Black Community are her avenues. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Through her work, Marks aspires to demonstrate “The Craft of Writing, and the Art of Efficacy.” She has a B.A. in journalism from ArizonaStateUniversity. Connect with her at http://www.sisterscanwespeak.tumblr.com.