Building a Movement for Black Male Achievement

This weekend distinguished gentleman wearing crimson and cream will flood the streets of The Crescent City as the New Orleans Alumni chapter welcomes the 82nd Grand Chapter Conclave Celebration of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

The weekend kicked off with what David Johns, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans called the most important conversation of the weekend. While others called it,

There were two different panel discussions on “Building a Movement for Black Male Achievement.” The second panel focused on the Black Lives Matter movement and included panelists Morehouse College Professor Marc Lamont Hill; 4th year student at University of Virginia, Martese Johnson; Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson; Kenneth Polite, US Attorney of the United States in the Eastern District of Louisiana; Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation President, Adolphus Pruitt; and Gospel Singer, Byron Cage. The panel was moderated by David Johns.

Johns posed a question to the panelists, “What work is require for us to change the dominate narrative that exists about Black men that is also a barrier to the success of Black men? Marc Lamont Hill responded by suggesting that part of the work is in our lived experience, through mentors (Kappa Alpha Psi does this through their Guide Right mentorship program), by having Black male teachers in the classroom, he explains that there is something really special about being in the 6th grade and having a black male teacher and through these experiences the possibilities of what you can be and image for yourself opens up.

A few months ago Travis J. Bristol, Ph.D., Research & Policy Fellow at Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) presented during a webinar hosted by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The research showed that during the 2014-2015 school year 1.9% of teacher in the US were Black male teacher while 2% were Latino male teachers in comparison to 13% white male teachers. While over 46% of children in the US are children of color, the majority of teachers in America are still white at 82%. The diversity-gap widens in black and urban cities like New Orleans where the majority of the public school student population is students of color.

One thing that often dominates the narrative and prevents black men from achieving success in the classroom is the ideology that they are somehow incapable of achieving. This notion is best articulated under the guise of “college is not for everyone”, however research shows that when students of color are taught by a teacher of color they, achieve more. They achieve more because “Black male teachers describe positive beliefs about their Black students’ academic abilities.” Opposed to, “White middle-class teachers project negative socialized world views on Black students, which influences how they assess Black students and Black students’ performance.” While policies around recruitment must reflect the need to have more Black male teachers in the classroom we must also step up. We must step up to confront and reject the notion that “college is not for everyone” and we must really push for Achievement in every field of human endeavor.

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