Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Why We Must Reorient The Perspective Of African-American Male Collegians Toward Something Nas Told Us Long Ago.

October 9, 2019 by  
Filed under Education, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( Please do not mistake my annoyance at various male students’ insistence that the obstacles that stand in the way of them arriving to class on time and prepared are routinely a Jason Bourne worthy harrowing journey as the absence of empathy. Please understand that it is not difficult for me to recognize that more times than not I am hearing foolishness that seems to be the sole purview of privileged Black teens.

If I did not know any better, these shysters may have convinced me that their lives have been so difficult that it is a certifiable miracle that they are alive. Unfortunately for the alluded to African-American male collegians who arrive pre-loaded with excuses for why they do not hold the principal responsibility for their academic failings, I have lived enough to understand exactly what Loraine Hansberry meant when she wrote: “To be young, gifted, and Black.”

The vast majority of my African-American male students grit their teeth when I counter their pitiful excuses with the following assertions.

  • There is no better moment to be “young, Black, and gifted” in America than the present.
  • The racial bigotry that others spew is largely inconsequential to their success.
  • If I were endowed with enough power, I would make Nas’ hypnotic hook of “Whose world is this? The world is yours!!!! The World is yours!!!!” the theme song for the brilliant young males who sit in front of me on a daily basis.

The most disappointing aspect of my interaction with some, certainly not all, African-American male students’ is their inclination toward pessimism. Until you have faced such negativity, it is difficult to attribute it to anything other than an absence of self-esteem and copious amounts of depression. Many of the Black males’ that I encounter emanate such negativity that it is detectable by anyone who engages them regarding substantive matters.

After thousands of discussions that revolve around this often unspoken issue, I have come to some understanding that many of these young men have been socialized to believe that success of any kind will remain outside of their grasp; just as it has remained beyond the reach of everyone around them.

When framed within a familial reality that provides few examples of professional or financial success, such conclusions are understandable. Although it is misleading to assert that African-Americans are monolithic in any aspect of their worldview, I feel comfortable in asserting that many of my students believe that the foremost obstacle to their success is an external force that most have named, “the White Man.” Trust me when I say that I have encountered droves of African-Americans who share the daunting perspective that it is Whites who determine if they will be successful or not. Such a perspective frequently causes me to muse that the alluded to Black males are idolaters. Put simply; they have somehow managed to make Whites omnipotent (all-powerful) and omnipresent (always present). Despite their protestations to the contrary, many of my Black male students have given away their agency and made Whites the supreme determiner in their life fortunes. Such a belief system renders reliable success formulas of preparation, hard work, planning, and execution useless.

Although it is a daunting truth that no one is coming to save African-American males from their last-place standing in nearly every measurable known to the academic community. Consider the following data concerning African-American males and their counterparts.

  • In 2014, the four-year graduation rate for Black Males was 53%.
  • In 2014, the four-year graduation rate for White males was 73%.

Unfortunately for African-American males, this gap is increasing.

Among African-American adults ranging in age from 25 to 29, only 1 out 3 (33%) earned a two-year degree. When one considers that the above statistic includes African-American women who outpace African-American males in matriculation from higher education institutions, the actual number is worse when controlled for only African-American males.Although such data illuminates a historical problem that has dogged African-American males like a shadow, it does nothing to solve the worsening problem.

So what should be the path forward for African-American males?

Most reasonable-minded persons agree that the following steps are crucial to African-American males success.

  • Reprioritization of engagement with the educational system.
  • The development of a network of Black Male mentorship to teach success formulas within and outside of the classroom.
  • A relevant educational curriculum that encourages African-American males intellectual curiosity.
  • Serious reorientation of the utility of education from merely securing a “job” to entrepreneurship.

It is time to tell those African-American males mentioned above the truth regarding why they are languishing in both the educational and work arenas. It is imperative that Black males realize that they must save themselves via a regimen of hard work, planning, and the development and execution of a five & ten-year plan. African-American male collegians who have been taught that there is no chance of success, must unlearn that dastardly message and replace it with tried-and-true success formulas that lead to optimism.

It is time that African-American males follow the spirit of the great emcee Nas who answered the question of “Whose world is this?” with the words “The world is yours!!! The world is yours!!!”

It truly is your world young brothers. Now it is time that you go out and claim it.

Staff Writer; Dr. James Thomas Jones III

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One may also connect with this brother via TwitterDrJamestJones.

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