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The Key to Black Male Success is Mentorship…When Iron Sharpens Iron

  • By CulSire
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  • April 6, 2015
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A significant body of first-hand research has demonstrated that Black male students academically under perform all students throughout the educational pipeline (Hawkins, 2010; Jackson, 2003). One has to wonder how this can be a reality when there are so many successful Black men in America. Unfortunately, many Black men are not taking Black male academic underachievement as serious as they need to take it. Imagine if white male students academically lagged behind all students throughout the educational pipeline—it would be declared a national emergency. Why will we not declare Black male academic underachievement in the Black community to be a national emergency? Do Black people not really care about Black male academic underachievement? Of course, we do! The challenge for members in the Black community is to resolve the best way to lead a coordinated national effort to begin to tackle this critical problem. This article contends that mentorship is crucial to dramatically improving Black male academic achievement.

Mentorship is the most immediate, practical, and effective tool that we have in the Black community to tremendously improve Black male academic achievement. Yes, there are many important factors that contribute to the national academic underachievement of Black males, but we, Black men, have the power to address this problem ourselves. We cannot depend on others outside of the Black community to educate our children—we have to do it ourselves!

When we are discussing community development and building, we need to include improving Black male academic achievement as a part of this conversation. Community organizers need to organize Black men and wome03CNCPEACE-articleLargen around helping Black male students to experience higher academic achievement.

Discourses about Black male students that only involve the negative dimensions about them ultimately lead to them being viewed as “problems.” When one perceives Black males as “problems,” he or she disregards them. While mainstream media attempts to portray our Black boys as “problems,” successful Black men have the power to work toward shattering the false depictions of Black boys by being the real solution for those who lack mentors.

Successful Black men must make a personal commitment to becoming mentors to Black boys who don’t have a male present in their life.  Many Black boys throughout the nation do not have the presence of a Black man in their home, and they lack successful Black men being actively involved in their lives to provide them with critical guidance and support.

As Black people, we first have to do all we can within our own community before we ask members of other communities for help with making a difference in the lives of our Black boys. We don’t have to wait for a government program to help Black male students improve their academic achievement. Capable Black men need to start mentoring Black male students so that they can be on a path for academic success. Even if mentoring a Black male student does not amplify his academic achievement, you will have given him a true chance to improve his academic performance. You probably will help in many other ways.

You may not feel Black-mentor-menteecapable of assisting a boy with his homework.  Don’t let this stop you from choosing to become a mentor.  If you cannot help him with his homework, find someone for him who can.  You can encourage a Black boy to make good decisions, find out what problems he has, and offer him guidance about how to remedy those problems.

Let’s change the dominant narrative about Black males to one of hope and achievement. Save our Black boys from the chains of hopelessness and replace those chains with hopefulness. 

The key thing is to act. Act now!

If you’re not already mentoring a Black boy, find one today and begin mentoring him.  Opportunities exist within 100 Black Men, National Urban League, Greek affiliates, and the Steve Harvey Foundation to name a few. Also contact your local place of worship, community center, or even school district. Inspire other Black men you know to mentor a Black boy.  Next, work together with Black men to expand the number of Black men in your community who mentor and network to share experiences, ideas, and etc. with one another to maximize the impact of your efforts.

Author: Mr. Antonio Maurice Daniels is a Research Associate in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA) obtaining his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

*Photo above taken from Urban Prep Academy home of the 100% College Acceptance school.

SOURCE: Healthy Black Men | Revolutionary Paideia

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