(ThyBlackMan.com) For some reason, I have been having conversations with a trusted friend regarding what he terms “cultural constructs”; a fancy way of saying how black men view themselves. As is so often the case with such matters, God placed the perfect example of this malady in front of me to consider.
Let me preface this posting with an admission that I have changed from the educator who made repeated overtures to black males who openly resist the educational process. On-lookers would have termed my actions a stubborn refusal to allow these young brothers to fall by the wayside. Even when faced with obvious evidence that not even the engaging materials I shared in my African-American History courses was capable of interesting these individuals, I continued to engage and encourage them toward an engagement with academic subjects.
After the alluded to discussions over “cultural constructs” I more fully understand that many black males resistance to educational endeavors flows from a flawed understanding of what a black man ought to be and to do.
Two decades of experience teaching informs my belief that far too many of the black males sitting in my classes arrived with a flawed understanding of black manhood. I believe that it is this flawed
I remember the day several years ago when it became obvious that one of my male students had no interest in securing a quality education as it coincided with a favored lecture that discussed the linkages between declining central cities and the arrival of hip-hop culture. This particular topic is one of my favorites as it allows me to discuss Parliament’s lyrics that what we are witnessing are “Chocolate cities and vanilla suburbs” as well as the classic Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five song titled “The Message.”
The moment that I stepped into the class, it was obvious that one male student’s unpreparedness was not only deliberate, but also a ploy designed to communicate his lack of interest in any facet of learning. There is no greater sign of a young person’s declaration of war against education than the unmistakable aroma of marijuana wafting around him as if it were an aura. As if that were not bad enough, this particular student rolled a chair into the classroom in an obvious attempt to be disruptive and avoid sitting at a desk; I guess he reasoned that there was no need for a desk as he had neither a pen, pencil, or piece of paper to take notes. This young black male’s hostility to the educational process was not tempered by the reality that a robust discussion of hip-hop culture and African-Americans sat at the center of my lecture.
It was obvious to me that somewhere along his path in life, this young man developed a belief that it was him, not myself or his peers who were representing what a black man should be and ought to do. This individual’s decision to enter and exit the lecture hall at least five times prior to falling asleep in his seat were additional overwhelming evidence offering deafening commentary regarding his resistance to the educational process, regardless of subject matter. Decades of teaching have convinced me that such individuals are beyond my reach.
Let me be absolutely clear, I am not an apologist who denies the impact that discrimination and institutional racism have on African-American males, however, I also am a proponent for personal responsibility and the seizing of opportunities as they present themselves. Although the antics of many of my black male students are befuddling as they appear to be conscious attempts to work against their best interests.
My reflection on this issue has led me to the understanding that they are nothing other than prisoners held within self-imposed walls that hold their innate genius and vast potential hostage. Were I provided the opportunity, I would implore such individuals to re-examine everything that they think that they know about black manhood and re-consider their illogical understanding of what a black man ought to be and ought to do. It is in that space that they will find the initial steps toward liberation as a black man in this nation.
Staff Writer; Dr. James Thomas Jones III
Official website; http://www.ManhoodRaceCulture.com
One may also connect with this brother via Twitter; DrJamestJones.