How Do We Help Black Boys In School?
Most of the African Americans I know are concerned about the dismal high school graduation rates for young Black men, which are now below fifty percent. It’s something that concerns me because I’ve seen the impact of males dropping out within my own family.
Recently, Mark Anthony Neal blogged about this issue over at TheLoop.com. Here’s an excerpt from that post:
Though there are examples of “boys being boys” that deserve heavy scrutiny and critique, particularly in relation to male gender privilege and personal interactions with women and girls, the racialized dynamic of boyhood in America means that White males are viewed, as Ferguson puts it, as “naturally naughty” while black boys are seen as “willfully bad.” In this context the behavior of Black boys takes on adult attributes and their transgressions, according to Ferguson, “take on a sinister, intentional, fully conscious tone, that is stripped of any element of childish naïveté.”
This dynamic is more fully manifested in the criminal justice system, where young Black men are incarcerated for minor infractions, whereas their White peers are more often offered counseling in response to comparable infractions. Black families are often complicit in this process by endowing boys with monikers like “little man” or “big man” in response to the absence of adult males in the family. Additionally the Black male body is also policed as the gestures associated with the performances of Black masculinity are often viewed by teachers as evidence of insubordination and disrespect. This is also a situation that affects Black girls, whose performances of “Black Girlness” are often read as examples of insolence.
Though this post discusses racism toward Black males in the education system, Brother Neal offers some real–and new–solutions, ones that don’t just end up at the same stale brick walls. This post was seriously eye-opening and you can read the rest of the post by heading over to TheLoop21.com.