Black Male Students Embrace Education, That Has Been Gifted From Our Ancestors. : ThyBlackMan

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Black Male Students Embrace Education, That Has Been Gifted From Our Ancestors.

March 2, 2018 by  
Filed under Education, News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( There are moments in life where things become so obvious that they are in a word, painful. Some time back, the African-American Library (the Edgar M. Gregory School in Houston, Texas) issued an invitation for me to address Malcolm X’s timeless speech, The Ballot or the Bullet. I graciously accepted the invitation and looked forward to traveling to Freeman’s Town, an area of the city that was settled by recently emancipated blacks; unfortunately, this area has been taken from African-Americans and renamed as “mid-town”, an recreated as an urban oasis for affluent whites who care little about displacing a major portion of this city’s history, but also the blacks who used to call this region home.

After completing my presentation over the issue of ‘the Ballot or the Bullet’, we quickly moved to the question-and-answer portion of the program. It was at that moment that a recently retired teacher posed the following question. “What is wrong with African-American males? Why do they fight against the educational process? I vividly recall the vast majority of them idly sitting in class with a look of gross disinterest. They weren’t even interested when I addressed African-American issues. What do you think is wrong with them?

Although this is a familiar question, the answer to it is uncommonly complex and eludes most educators. This matter is so complex that it can only be answered on a case-by-case basis. I could immediately tell that my refusal to offer a general answer to this matter frustrated the person who issued the loaded question. Put simply, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to this convoluted issue as its catalyst can be attributed to myriad locations.

I admitted to this veteran educator that I also experienced similar disinterest from many black males in my African-American history courses and did not always have an answer for how to reverse what I considered their hostility to intellectual endeavors. One of the more unusual conclusions that I reached regarding this segment of students was that their lack of interest in “a life of the mind” is eerily similar to that of President George W. Bush.

Although I do not recall what periodical I was reading, I remember very well the contents of the story that revolved around former President George W. Bush’s resistance to all things academic. According to his collegiate colleagues, the most frightening thing about the former President was that he had little interest in anything of substance. Apparently, George W. Bush was intellectually dull, uninspired, and living in a region of sparse intellectual terrain that convinced many that he was an imbecile.

Unfortunately for Black America, many African-American males appear determined to recreate the former President’s intellectual feebleness. The hostility that so many black males are exhibiting toward a life of the mind makes George W. Bush’s legendary resistance to intellectual endeavors seem scholarly. Of course this critique is not aimed at all African-American males, however, there is a sizable population whose interests disappear once discussions extend beyond some droning popular culture topic, reality show, or shocking event portraying African-Americans in a negative light.

Most black educators cringe when they ponder what the world has in-store for the alluded to black males as lifetime experience has taught us that this nation is not only hostile, but also unforgiving when it comes to dealing with black men.

As a historian, I understand that this current listlessness infecting so many African-American male collegians is an anomaly that does not reflect our traditional relationship with the educational process. Such historical knowledge leads one toward a natural question of, what forces have colluded to cause this decline in intellectual curiosity and engagement among black males. I have much company in my belief that it was the unwise decision of black leaders to pursue integration with a hostile white community that publicly displayed their resistance to the idea.

While black legal scholars such as Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall battled in this nation’s courts for a reversal of the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson that made ‘separate but equal’ the law of the land, others such as Malcolm X warned against what it would mean to send black children to schools populated with hostile white teachers and administrators who had no plans to alter their daunting view of black racial inferiority and second-class citizenship. These alluded to concerns stand at the center of Malcolm’s assertion that “only a fool would let his enemy educate his children.”

Black America’s unwise attempt to assimilate with a hostile, politically organized, and economically formidable ‘white’ society sits at the center of the removal of black male teachers and the application of a non-reflective white-washed school curriculum that remains to this very moment.

As previously mentioned, this moment is an anomaly in regards to how black males have viewed the utility of education. Consider for a moment that when enslaved African-Americans emerged from chattel slavery, the vast majority were devoid of material possessions, yet they did possess a belief that it was in the realm of educational pursuits that they would make their greatest strides toward equality. Any reading of Black History reveals Black America’s belief that it is education that offers the steadiest path to uplift as our people attributed their oppression to a hostile white community that combined force and “book learning” to maintain their politico-economic monopolies over recently freed blacks.

The most frequent refrain within Black America regarding uplift has been that it is education that is the primary difference between “them that have and them that don’t.” My grandparents, none of which were formally educated, repeatedly conveyed their belief in this mantra by reminding us at every turn that education “was the only thing that the white man can’t take away from you.”

Most civilized people are in consensual agreement that a ‘relevant education’ bestows power upon its possessor. Although the coordinated resistance of a hostile white community has been a significant problem for the educational endeavors of black males, there is a far more menacing threat on the horizon; that being, the absence of intellectual curiosity. Unfortunately for Black America, the alluded to virus is infecting many black males with the same vigor that it took hold of President George W. Bush.

There is possibly no greater evidence of such than the reaction many of my male students have when I demand effort and studiousness from them. Many behave as if I am keeping them from addressing something far more important and pressing. An observer would think that the alluded to students have much more important things to do than earn an education.

I am confident that you understand my resistance to concluding that many of my black male students, certainly not all of them, see little utility in education, particularly, if it is not directly tied to the acquisition of material goods. Such a perspective betrays African-Americans storied history of making the securing of a quality education the foremost priority of a crowded to do list. For my ancestors, education was the cornerstone for racial uplift.

It is this understanding of the African-American experience that forces me to order my students to turn their cell phones off while in class and repeatedly reinforce that it is this moment that will determine the trajectory of the rest of their lives. Far too many of my black male students fail to realize that the opportunity to pursue an education is a privilege that they did not earn; it was gifted to them by unidentified persons who existed long before their birth. I have taken a personal vow that will never cease until they learn this lesson and what is required of them as the recipients of such a priceless gift.

Staff Writer; Dr. James Thomas Jones III

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One may also connect with this brother via TwitterDrJamestJones.


One Response to “Black Male Students Embrace Education, That Has Been Gifted From Our Ancestors.”
  1. lynn oliver says:

    The belief boys should be strong allows aggressive treatment from infancy so they will be tough. There is less verbal interaction support for fear of coddling. This creates high, maintained layers of average stress for boys (new thought will send to all). These layers remain in the mind taking away real mental energy from academics so they will have to work harder to receive the same mental reward. This treatment creates emotional distance of others. It creates lags in communication girls are given daily. The high stress creates activity for stress relief not genetics. This creates higher muscle tension which hurts handwriting motivation. The effect with false genetic models creates more failure and hopelessness. To make it tougher boys are given love honor feelings of self-worth only on condition of achievement.

    This was designed to keep Male esteem low and be willing to give their lives in war for love honor from society. Males not achieving are given ridicule and discipline to make them try harder. Support is not given for fear of coddling. Many boys falling behind turn their attention to sports and video games for small measures of love honor not received in school. The belief boys should be strong and false belief in genetics create denial of the harsh treatment which is creating the low academics low esteem and other problems for boys. This is not about more openness from boys; it is about society allowing aggressive treatment from infancy so boys feel much wariness toward parents teachers who freely use aggressive treatment for any sign of weakness. This is condoned by society. This problem is affecting all male children but the lower the socioeconomic bracket and time in lower areas the much more amplified the treatment given male children by parents/teachers.

    As girls we are given much support and care by parents teachers peers. As girls we are treated better and so enjoy support from society. Since we as girls are given by differential treatment much mental social/emotional support verbal interaction and care this creates the opposite outcome for girls when compared with boys. We receive love honor simply for being girls. This creates all of the good things. We have lower average stress for ease of learning. We enjoy much freedom of expression from much protection by society. We enjoy lower muscle tension for ease in writing motivation to write. We enjoy much positive trust/communication from parents teachers and support for perceived weaknesses. We are reaping a bonanza in the information age. Now with girls and women taking over many areas of society we enjoy more lavishing of love honor from society while boys and men are now failing more and are given more ridicule and abuse by society. Mind you this is now coming from girls and women using our still protected freedoms of expression and more with false feelings of superiority.

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