Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Black Men and College

So while many of us with privilege are spending our money and time reviewing The Emancipation of Mimi or other pop culture materials... and while Congress is spending our money and their time trying to legistlate morality on Terri Schiavo and who can and can't get married...

  • 2/3 of black men in the U.S. who start college never finish.
  • New York City and Chicago fail to graduate 70% of their black male high school students... these statistics are similar for other major cities
  • 41% of black male high school students graduate with the peers they started with... nationally!
  • ... and black male college enrollment increased to 635,000 in 2000 (compared with 469,000 in 1976), while... get this... black female college enrollment increased to 1,085,000 in 2000 (compared with 563,000 in 1976)

These stats and more... I learned in a session entitled "Increase African American Men's Enrollment and Retention" presented by Chris Catching of Rutgers University-New Brunswick, and Shaun Harper of University of Southern California (Shaun actually heads up the doctoral program for those earning PhDs and Ed.Ds in Higher Education Administration at USC).

Their question, more rhetorical than anything: How can any administrator or politician know these stats and choose not to address them? To know this and choose not to do something is an obvious message to the black community that education of our boys doesn't matter.

Answer: Black boys matter when they're entertaining, seducing, balling, or posing in politicians' photo ops... and even then, do they really matter to the public at large? Also... there should be no surprise at the correlation between the number of black men who don't graduate and the number who are part of the prison industrial complex. This is big business for the U.S. Keeping a permanent underclass only "helps" those in power keep their power. You always need workers, whether it's in the factories or in the prisons. That's a Sociology and Econ 101 basic. Not my personal philosophy, but just think about the hows, the whys, and the connections... So do black men, or brown men for that matter, really matter?

Another rhetorical question: Why should colleges continue to try and recuit African American men to their campuses if the stats show 2/3 will not finish their undergraduate degrees?

Answer: Because all people deserve a chance to pursue their dreams -- dreams that require a degree and intelligence, and not just rapping or sports talents. And many colleges are doing their part to... help? I don't know. I'm a small part of the system and I can't even answer that one. There are definitely a number of talented, smart, and capable black men who do attend college, graduate, and succeed... and without becoming a statistic: a father before they're ready, a dropout, or a campus trouble maker.

But what about the system is broken that allows so many black men to become educational statistics?

Just food for thought...

As Congress debates feeding tubes, athlete steroid use, morality issues that should be personal and not political decisions, and other issues that cloud over the REAL issues facing us-- education, lack of jobs, increased health care costs, and the fact that we're spending billions and losing thousands on a war in Iraq that some say never should have happened -- the real issues continue and the people in charge are not addressing them.

What can regular people do to hold their politicians -- senators, mayors, representatives, etc...-- accountable? How can we make sure all the silly red-tape, $5,000 chairs, bling bling/hip hop politicians of our generation, the geritol generation politicians of our aunts' and uncles' generation, and Blue-vs-Red divisions get set aside to address REAL issues and move forward a progressive agenda that works for everyone's equality and survival? And isn't liberty and justice for ALL exactly that... for all? Not just the one's who proclaim themselves right and moral? Hmmm... Maybe black boys in public schools aren't right and moral, so that's why they're allowed to slip through the cracks. So who'll be deemed as such next year? Hmmm... So interesting.

Enough of my soap box... one good statistic came out of Shaun and Chris' presentation. Prince George's County, Maryland boasts the highest African American high school graduation rate in the U.S. Let's all move to Maryland and enroll our kids there. Maybe the kids from PGCM will choose to opt for college and not for the military. I wonder what Prince George's County, Maryland is doing to make sure its students are academically successful and ready for college?

Now back to your normal web viewing pleasures...


1 comment:

Trent Jackson said...

I want to marry Fred.