Friday, February 15, 2019

Two Different Populations; Why It Is Clear that Some Black Males Will and Some Will Not Make it in Life.

July 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Education, News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( After a recent conversation with a male student who by all indications decided to turn his back on the extraordinary opportunities available to young black males, I could do little more than sigh and recite Napoleon Bonaparte’s infamous quote that “In this life, we are either kings or pawns, emperors or fools.”

Let me first say that decades of interaction with black males led me to the conclusion that in regards to guidance and instruction regarding a life plan, it is usually feast or famine. I have no reservations in stating that the life prospects of my male students fall in one of two camps; either they are teachable and eager to pursue professional goals or unwilling to engage the educational process and blatantly hostile to the mentoring process. The alluded to hostility regarding mentorship is expressed in a multitude of ways. Nevertheless, for those resistant to mentorship, the result is always the same; in time, they will find themselves left behind their peer group and steeped in an unending cycle of self-pity and loathing. The presence of their more successful peers serves as both an irritant and ever-present reminder of “what could have been.”

If only I had a nickel for each time African-American men raised this topic behind closed doors, I would be wealthy. The catalyst behind these discussions is the unfortunate reality that far too many black male lives are not worth living. It is no stretch to state that when one examines data regarding the American populace that black males/men “outperform” their peers in dubious areas such as incarceration rates, unemployment rates, and educational failings.

Of course, there are legitimate explanations for black men lagging behind all others in crucial areas such as education, mortality, and economics. Far too often it appears that Black America is hesitant to discuss one of the foundational reasons that many black males find themselves marginalized in contemporary society. As an educator, I can attest to the fact that I have never had a single semester where I did not encounter a young black male who had for some reason decided to ruin their lives by adopting a value system of ineptitude and flawed priorities.

It is this persona that Richard Majors terms the Cool Pose in his book of the same title. According to Majors, there is a population of black males who forego traditional avenues of success — higher education, learning a trade/skill, entrepreneurship — in favor of a well-traveled road to a far too familiar “hard knock life.” Although I realize that many within our community will cry foul at the assertion that the alluded to individuals must be made responsible for their lot in life, the truth of the matter is that until they take responsibility for their present station in life change is an impossibility. It is with the realization that far too many within our community consider calls for personal responsibility not only old-fashioned but also an occurrence of “blaming the victim” that I issue the following. It has been my experience that the academic failures that many black males experience are directly related to evils such as an absence of intellectual curiosity and a lamentable lack of discipline. Of course, no single identifiable factor differentiates my students who “get it” versus those who “do not have a clue.” However, I am confident that most agree that there is some factor that differentiates the successful from those who languish in mediocrity and ineptitude.

It is indeed an exciting time to be a young black male/man in America. When I think about it, the fact that the following stanza from Charles Dickens’ work, A Tale of Two Cities, best summarizes much of the dilemma facing each succeeding generation of black men is ironic. According to Dickens,

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…

When one considers the storied history and the historic multi-faceted oppression that persons of African descent have endured since their ancestors arrived in the Jamestown Colony, it is not difficult to argue that the present moment is an unprecedented one for young black males. Despite the rhetoric that I am confident will flow from opponents who disbelieve in the ability of black men to compete with their peers, I have seen black men not only compete but outperform their peer group. Persons who fight against this worldview are offering copious amounts of commentary regarding their failings and missed opportunities that feed their disbelief in the ability of young black males to compete against their peers.

It is these alluded to opportunities that make the future so promising for the majority of young black males unless they choose to believe the naysayers who doubt their innate genius. If black males absorb the sad lamentations of those individuals who explain away their academic failings as being caused by outside forces and not an absence of focus and diligence, they are doomed. The belief of the above foolishness will be taken by those who hate black males as an admission of inferiority. If such people are not careful, their excuse-making will eventually lead their pleas to carry the same weight as the little boy who cried wolf.

Staff Writer; Dr. James Thomas Jones III

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One may also connect with this brother via TwitterDrJamestJones.


2 Responses to “Two Different Populations; Why It Is Clear that Some Black Males Will and Some Will Not Make it in Life.”
  1. Sherry Z. Lawson says:

    I do not like you using your caste system.

    We are not “African”

    “Africa” is the name of a marauding beast of Italian decent who invaded Africa.

    My family’s descent is from Ghana and Sierra Leone.

    Personally “Africa” doesn’t mean anything to me.

    The mere fact you use rascist language that demeaned our ancestors proves you

    are just the Sheriff Clarke type race traitor.

    In G_D’s name may you burn in hell!

  2. Trevo Craw says:

    Easy analysis
    There are African Americans
    Then there are blacks
    then there are niggers/niggas

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