Gifted Black males: understanding and decreasing barriers to achievement and identity.National reports overwhelmingly reinforce the well-known and unfortunate reality that Black males face incredible barriers as they strive to achieve in school and social settings. One of the most potent and pervasive barriers is that of social injustices that effectively undermine their potential, self-perception, and opportunity to achieve in academic settings. The toll that is taken on Black males shows up in all economic, social, and academic areas--more than all other males and females; Black males are over-represented in special education, under-represented in gifted education, over-represented among dropouts, over-represented among students who are underachievers, and over-represented among students who are unmotivated and choose to disengage dis·en·gage
v. dis·en·gaged, dis·en·gag·ing, dis·en·gag·es
1. To release from something that holds fast, connects, or entangles. See Synonyms at extricate.
2. academically (Ferguson, 2001, 2002; Ford, 1996; U.S. Department of Education, 2000). These dismal realities hold true at all levels of the educational pipeline, from preschool to college and they hold true for Black males at all levels of academic ability or skill. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , being identified as gifted does not necessarily preempt pre·empt or pre-empt
v. pre·empt·ed, pre·empt·ing, pre·empts
1. To appropriate, seize, or take for oneself before others. See Synonyms at appropriate.
a. gifted Black males from encountering barriers to their achievement. As described throughout this article, like Black males in general, gifted Black males are also at high risk for failing to reach their academic potential.
In the sections that follow, barriers facing gifted Black males are described. In this overview, I rely on the literature on Black males and achievement to set the foundation; from this literature, I draw implications for Black males who are gifted. I also rely extensively on literature focused on gifted Black males; unfortunately, though substantive in content, little has been written about this student group (see works by Fred Bonner, Donna Y. Ford, Tarek Grantham, Asa Hilliard III, and James A. Moore III). This limited body of work, however, consistently indicates that being gifted and high achieving presents another set of barriers for gifted Black males to confront. Thus, a Venn diagram A graphic technique for visualizing set theory concepts using overlapping circles and shading to indicate intersection, union and complement. It was introduced in the late 1800s by English logician, John Venn, although it is believed that the method originated earlier. , as presented in Figure 1, is the simple, but appropriate, model used in this article to describe issues facing this population.
Conceptually, the figure indicates that the body of work on gifted males can be used to shed some light, albeit limited, on the issues and needs of gifted Black males; likewise, the body of work on Black males can be useful in explaining the needs and issues of gifted Black males. Too often, however, scholars have not studied or contemplated what it means to be Black and gifted and male.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
The purpose of this article is to present an overview of the substantive issues affecting gifted Black male achievement; more importantly, the goal is to offer suggestions for change. Change, I argue later, can take place more readily when we instill in·still
To pour in drop by drop.
instil·lation n. a scholar identity within gifted Black males and when educators become culturally responsive and empowered.
ACHIEVEMENT BARRIERS FACING BLACK MALES
The educational and social status of Black males in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. is dismal. The abysmal statistics speak for themselves in the aptly titled report Facts Contributing to the Cradle to Prison Pipeline (Children's Defense Fund The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) is a national organization that is committed to the social Welfare of children. Founded in 1973, the nonprofit group uses its annual $9 million budget to lobby legislators and to speak out publicly on a broad array of issues on the law, the family, and , 2007). The deplorable and alarming statistics of low achievement and underachievement presented in this report are not new. Lee (1991) noted more than a decade ago:
1. The overall mean achievement scores for Black male students are below those of other groups in the basic subject areas.
2. Black males are much more likely to be placed in classes for the educable educable /ed·u·ca·ble/ (ej´u-kah-b'l) capable of being educated; formerly used to refer to persons with mild mental retardation (I.Q. approximately 50–70). mentally retarded Noun 1. mentally retarded - people collectively who are mentally retarded; "he started a school for the retarded"
developmentally challenged, retarded and for students with learning disabilities than in gifted and talented classes.
3. Black males are far more likely to be placed in general education and vocational high school curricular tracks than in an academic track.
4. Black males are suspended from school more frequently and for longer periods of time than other student groups.
5. Black males complete high school at lower rates than Black females.
Despite ongoing reform efforts nationally and in local schools, these statistics hold true almost two decades later. Little progress has been made.
How do Black males navigate these academic and social conditions? Majors and Billson (1992) and Tatum (2005) noted that Black males often adopt a "cool pose" persona--nonchalant, tough, hostile, emotionless, and uncaring--to save face and to cope with external pressures and oppression. Cool pose is a defense mechanism that is adopted as a way to (a) cope with oppression, invisibility, and marginality; (b) render him visible and empower himself; (c) communicate power, toughness, detachment, and style; (d) maintain a balance between inner life and his social environment; (e) cope with conflict and anxiety; (f) neutralize stress; (g) manage his feelings of rage in the face of prejudice and discrimination; and (h) counter negative forces in life (Tatum, 2005, p. 29).
Hence, Black males are less likely to share their feeling and emotions, to disclose with teachers and others interested in their welfare (Bonnet, 2001; Grantham, 1998, 2004a, 2004b; Hebert, 2002). To repeat, these youth may avoid institutions and activities that are considered "uncool"--schools, libraries, bookstores, museums, and churches. Not surprisingly, when one is "cool," there can be negative consequences. The Black male's potential and growth are thwarted because of his refusal to assimilate or to otherwise become involved in experiences that could help broaden his personal, social, and political consciousness. Thus, understanding social injustices from targeting by law enforcement to low-level tracking in academic areas, he gets into trouble more often with authority figures, mainly those who lack an understanding of the use of behavior (cool pose) as a coping mechanism coping mechanism Psychiatry Any conscious or unconscious mechanism of adjusting to environmental stress without altering personal goals or purposes . This complex set of negative interactions form a rarely broken vicious cycle Noun 1. vicious cycle - one trouble leads to another that aggravates the first
positive feedback, regeneration - feedback in phase with (augmenting) the input .
ADDITIONAL BARRIERS FACING BLACK MALES IDENTIFIED AS GIFTED
Recently, a colleague shared the following story with me. School personnel were transporting Black students to an awards event in which students were to be honored for outstanding academic achievement. One Black male, a junior named Keith, approached the school van dressed in baggy pants, an overly large sweatshirt, and headband. Upon entering the van, he proceeded to pull off the outer layers of his outfit to expose a crisp dress shirt and creased khaki pants. He swapped tennis shoes tennis shoes npl → zapatillas fpl de tenis
tennis shoes npl → (chaussures fpl de) tennis mpl
tennis shoes tennis for casual shoes. Before anyone could question him, the young man asserted: "I have an image to maintain." Being smart isn't part of that image. Not surprisingly, after the event and before returning to school, Keith went back into what his peers would accept him in, the original "urban" outfit.
The story is reminiscent of the DuBoisian (1) notion of two warring souls. How does he make compromises in negotiating the need for achievement and the need for affiliation or social acceptance? How does one reconcile being Black and being an American, namely, in a society where racial injustices continue to exist? Keith's story and so many others like it beg several questions: How many gifted, high-achieving Black males feel they must hide or camouflage their intelligence and academic accomplishments? How many Black males, even when recognized as gifted, do not feel comfortable being intelligent and are willing to sacrifice academics for social or peer acceptance? What is life like for Black males who are gifted and high achievers?
Building upon the seminal work A seminal work is a work from which other works grow. The term usually refers to an intellectual or artistic achievement whose ideas and techniques have been adopted or responded to in later works by other people, either in the same field or in the general culture. of Ford (1992-2006) over the last decade on under-representation of Black students in gifted education, and that of Grantham (1998, 2004a, 2004b) and Hebert (2002), it appears that social issues, including stereotypes and peer pressures, contribute to the low rates of Black students being recognized and formally identified as gifted. Stereotypes about Black males inhibit teachers and other educators from seeing strengths in these students (Ford, Harris, Tyson, & Frazier Trotman, 2002; Grantham, 1998; Steele, 2003). Instead, educators focus on the shortcomings (both real and imposed) of these males. The idea that educators--those in positions of power, influence, and authority--would be biased or prejudiced is a sensitive one; thus, educators seldom wish to entertain this idea. Yet, ample data indicate that educators often have lower expectations for Black students (especially males) than for other students (e.g., Kozol, 1991, 2005; Orfield & Lee, 2005). These stereotypes and low expectations surely must affect the extent to which educators refer Black males for gifted education screening and assessment.
Negative peer pressures also compromise and test the motivation and achievement of gifted Black males. In several studies, Ford (1992, 1996, 2005) found that gifted Black males were more likely than gifted Black females to report negative pressures from peers when they do well academically. Specifically, Black males are likely to be accused of "acting White" or "selling out" when they are academically inclined, when they participate in gifted education and AP classes, and when they are self-disciplined in school. Ferguson (2001, 2002), Fordham and Ogbu (1988), and Ogbu (1992, 2004) have reported similar findings.
Exacerbating this misperception mis·per·ceive
tr.v. mis·per·ceived, mis·per·ceiv·ing, mis·per·ceives
To perceive incorrectly; misunderstand.
mis that to achieve is to act White, Black males face pressures from peers who believe that being a high achiever and being intelligent is not masculine or is otherwise feminine (e.g., Majors & Billson, 1992). Thus, though many Black males get accolades for their physical and musical talents (Sailes, 2004), too many also get teased or ridiculed for their intellectual or academic talents. All variants of these peer pressures effectively place much strain and stress on the motivations and academic identities of gifted Black males.
Cross and Vandiver's (2001) theory of racial identity has shed additional and compelling light on the deleterious effects of racialized discriminatory encounters on the mental health of Blacks, including those identified as gifted. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. such theories and hundreds of studies, Blacks progress through three phases of racial identity as they experience race-based encounters--preencounter, immersion-emersion, and internalization Internalization
A decision by a brokerage to fill an order with the firm's own inventory of stock.
When a brokerage receives an order they have numerous choices as to how it should be filled. . When gifted Black students encounter racism, including messages that they are less capable or less competent than their White classmates, they may begin to question their academic potential and disidentify with their cultural backgrounds and academic achievement (e.g., wish or prefer to be White, reject being Black, have low racial salience sa·li·ence also sa·li·en·cy
n. pl. sa·li·en·ces also sa·li·en·cies
1. The quality or condition of being salient.
2. A pronounced feature or part; a highlight.
Noun 1. , second-guess their academic competence; Wong, Eccles, & Sameroff, 2003). Cross and Vandiver's research indicates that these individuals would be in the preencounter phase of racial identity.
There is no question that racism places a special White tax (2) on the lives of gifted and high-achieving Black students in several ways: (a) they may go through the stages of racial identity at an earlier age and more intensely, due, in part, to being highly perceptive and thoughtful; and (b) they face additional negative pressures (see Ford, Moore, & Whiting, 2006). One type of pressure comes from intraracial peers who feel threatened or abandoned by their high-achieving peers; these students tease gifted Black students and attempt to sabotage their success or, to camouflage their own low sense of self-worth, those peers will adopt a cool pose as protection. The second type of pressure comes from White peers who alienate and reject high-achieving and/or gifted Black students. This rejection may be especially hurtful if there are few Black students in the student's gifted education classes. This type of alienation is often rooted in White privilege White privilege has the following meanings:
With so many social pressures that deny gifted Black males their fight to be high achievers, what can be done? How can educators help to mitigate the many aforementioned barriers confronting this student population? Later, I argue that a scholar identity can disrupt the cycle of low academic engagement and poor achievement among Black males, including those identified as gifted. What can we learn from research on resilience? What can we learn from theory and research in sociology and psychological, namely, scholarship on motivation, identity, and achievement? As a bonus, the conceptual model has implications for a broader population. In other words, many of the characteristics of the model are generalizable to other groups; however, this model becomes more specific to Black males when masculinity and racial identity are added.
SCHOLAR IDENTITY MODEL
The academic and social challenges that confront Black males in classrooms suggest a pressing need for programmed or systematic interventions on the part of educators (Grantham, 2004a, 2004b; Lee, 1991, 2006). Efforts by educators can and must play a proactive role in promoting developmental initiatives at both the elementary and secondary level for these students. Such initiatives must focus on helping Black males to develop the attitudes, behaviors, and values necessary to function at optimal levels at school and in the world (Lee, 1991, 2006). That is, Black males, including those identified as * gifted, require specific support and guidance to master educational and sociocultural challenges.
Such support can be provided in many ways (Grantham, 2004a; Hebert, 2002; Whiting, 2006). At the heart of each type of support must be a focus on changing Black male's self-perception--their self-esteem, self-concept, and racial identity--in academic-oriented settings. Focusing specifically on self-esteem, in 1990, the California State Department of Education published a report of the California Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility (as cited in Christensen, 1992). The report defined self-esteem as "Appreciating my own worth and importance, and having the character to be accountable for myself and to act responsibly toward others" (Executive Summary, p. 1). A central finding of the task force was that self-esteem is the best candidate for a "social vaccine"--something that empowers us to live responsibly and that inoculates us against the lures of crime, violence, substance abuse, teen pregnancy ... and educational failure" (p. 4). Students with high or positive self-esteem are less likely to engage in self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors. Equally noteworthy is that the task force found that the school environment plays a significant role in a student's development of self-esteem.
One promising strategy to address self-perception or identity issues (self-esteem, self-concept, and racial identity) is through culturally specific or culturally responsive counseling experiences in school settings. These empowerment experiences should develop within Black males the attitudes and skills necessary for academic achievement, foster positive and responsible behavior, as well as provide opportunities to critically analyze the image of Black men, expose participants to Black male role models, and develop a sense of cultural and historical pride in the accomplishments of Black males (Grantham, 2004a; Lee, 1991).
As already noted, many Black males find their identities, their pride, their self-efficacy, and their self-esteem in a limited number of domains--sports, music, and acting (Halbert, 2002; Sailes, 2004). Many aspire to aspire to
verb aim for, desire, pursue, hope for, long for, crave, seek out, wish for, dream about, yearn for, hunger for, hanker after, be eager for, set your heart on, set your sights on, be ambitious for these areas and find their heroes and role models in these industries. Less often do Black males see themselves as capable and talented beings in school settings. These counterproductive self-images can and must change. Regardless of the age group we work with, it is still possible--and certainly essential--to change the way Black males see themselves intellectually and academically.
To support the process of image building among gifted Black males, educators must recognize the importance of how having a scholar identity can improve the motivation, achievement, and aspirations of these students. I define a scholar identity as one in which Black males perceive themselves as academicians, as studious stu·di·ous
a. Given to diligent study: a quiet, studious child.
b. Conducive to study.
2. , and as intelligent or talented in school settings. In my work with Black males, I have come to the conclusion that several characteristics contribute to a scholar identity (Whiting, 2006a; 2006b). I share these characteristics with the hopes that readers will become more optimistic and more empowered as they work with Black males, too many of whom have heretofore not been recognized, developed, or nurtured, even at a very young age. I offer a central proposition in this article--if educators (along with families and community leaders) can nurture a scholar identity within these otherwise capable students, then more Black males will achieve their potential in school and life. And more Black males will end up being recruited and retained in gifted programs.
[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]
I believe that there are at least nine characteristics of someone who possesses a scholar identity (see Figure 2). The first seven characteristics are somewhat generic or neutral relative to race and gender; however, the model becomes race specific and gender specific when the last two characteristics (racial identity and masculinity) are included. In the model, self-efficacy lays the foundation for other areas of a scholar identity; hence, it is described first. Self-efficacy helps the Black male to be resilient and persistent when facing barriers and challenges.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A SCHOLAR IDENTITY
In his seminal theory, Bandura ban`dur´a
n. 1. A traditional Ukrainian stringed musical instrument shaped like a lute, having many strings. (1977, 1986) reported that the role of self-efficacy in academic settings, including one's self-image as a learner in the context of academic achievement, cannot be ignored or trivialized. Self-efficacy is the belief that "I can do it; I am competent and able." Self-efficacy is another aspect of our identity. Specifically, similar to self-concept and self-esteem, self-efficacy plays a critical part in how a student performs in school settings. In the proposed model, self-efficacy lays the corner stone of a scholar identity; it serves as the foundation for the other characteristics, as illustrated in Figure 1. Black males with a scholar identity have a positive and healthy dose of self-efficacy. Leading scholars on gifted Black students (e.g., Ford, 1996; Grantham, 2004a, 2004b; Hilliard, 2003) contend that resilience is a noticeable characteristic of high-achieving or gifted Black males. When self-efficacy is high, these Black males appear to share a few characteristics: (a) high resilience; (b) high self-confidence; (c) high self-control; (d) a strong sense of self-responsibility; and (e) a clear understanding of the tasks they face and the belief that they can accomplish all the subtasks associated with their goal. Further, they believe that they are strong students. They elect to reject stereotypes imposed on them because they deem themselves to be intelligent and talented. They are determined to not be deterred by challenges or setbacks because they are optimistic. With such efficacious attitudes, they are more willing to seek out academic challenges.
Willing to Make Sacrifices
Success often comes with setbacks. Trials and tribulations are part of the success equation. That is, trials and tribulations are necessary for reaching both short-term and long-term goals. There can be no progress, no achievement without sacrifice, as James Allen James Allen is the name of:
Internal Locus of Control locus of control
A theoretical construct designed to assess a person's perceived control over his or her own behavior. The classification internal locus indicates that the person feels in control of events; external locus
Locus of control (LOC LOC - lines of code ) refers to people's general People's General (1998) is a turn-based strategy computer game developed by Strategic Simulations, Inc (SSI). It was released in August, 1998 in North America and in September, 1998 in Europe. beliefs about the causes of their successes and failures, particularly their own responsibility in such outcomes (Rotter, 1966). An internal LOC is the belief that outcomes (e.g., good grades, high test scores, poor test scores) are controlled by or due to one's ability (namely, intelligence) and/or effort (e.g., lack of preparation, did not study); conversely, an external LOC is the belief that outcomes are controlled by fate and circumstances out of one's control (e.g., unfair test, difficult teacher, poor explanations, bad luck, etc.).
African American males who have an internal locus of control are optimistic; these males believe that they can do well in school because they have a strong work ethic work ethic
A set of values based on the moral virtues of hard work and diligence.
a belief in the moral value of work ; they participate in class; they study; and they do school assignments for intrinsic reasons. Just as important, when they fail or do poorly in school, males with an internal locus of control are willing to ask for help; they are not ashamed to say, "I am confused, I'm frustrated, I don't understand" or "I just need to study more next time." Thus, these Black males are less likely to blame low achievement, failure, or mistakes on others. Instead, they take responsibility for their behaviors and choices while being realistic and watchful of outside pressures and societal injustices.
Work on the relationship between aspirations and academic achievement has a long history. Motivation theories and research (e.g., Dweck, 2002; Graham, 1998; Reeve, Deci, & Ryan, 2004; Ryan & Deci, 2000) indicate that people who have aspirations stay focused; they keep an eye on the past and present as they prepare for their future. They think about how their current behaviors and decisions influence future outcomes. Black males with high and realistic aspirations are not overly concerned about immediate gratification and short-term interests and goals. These students set realistic goals--goals that must be achieved with an education; likewise, they recognize and appreciate the importance of high grades, excellent school attendance, and the benefits of taking challenging courses (e.g., AP, IB, and honors classes) in order to achieve their goals.
Self-awareness is tantamount to looking inward and knowing thyself thy·self
Yourself. Used as the reflexive or emphatic form of thee or thou.
Archaic the reflexive form of thou1 . It is an open, honest appraisal and understanding of one's strengths and limitations (Cooley, 1902; Silvia & Duval, 2001). African American males with high self-awareness do not let their weaknesses distract them from putting forth effort in school. Quite the opposite--these Black males are able to adjust and find ways to compensate for their weaknesses (e.g., they get a tutor in classes where they are not doing well; they study longer, and they study frequently). They work smarter, not harder, to the extent that they advocate for themselves.
Need for Achievement
According to McClelland's (1966) Need to Achieve Theory, many people have an intense need to achieve and succeed. Achievement-oriented people desire to do well and consistently try to find ways to do their work better. They are mastery oriented to the extent that they are more concerned about personal achievement than rewards (Dweck, 1999), and they set high but achievable goals for themselves. McClelland maintains that these people are desirable for companies because their drive to succeed and achieve makes them work harder and they think of better ways of accomplishing goals.
For Black males who have a scholar identity, the need for achievement is stronger than the need for affiliation, which is consistent with McClelland' s (1966) theory. Thus, their identities are not determined by the number of friends they have or their popularity. Rather, they value the quality of friendships over the quantity of friends. They want a social life and friends; however, they are not troubled about being popular for the sake of popularity. African American males with a strong need for achievement understand that high academic achievement will take them farther in farther in
Of or relating to an option contract with an earlier expiration date than a contract that is currently owned or being considered. life than being social or popular. In this sense, school and learning come first, serving as a guide for most of their choices and behaviors.
Dweck (1999) argued that students' views of themselves in academic settings--their academic self-confidence--play a critical and fundamental role in their school achievement. Essentially, her work demonstrates that students who believe that they are intelligent and capable in school are more likely to be persistent and more likely to persist than other students. Black males with academic self-confidence believe that they are strong or excellent students. They feel comfortable and confident in academic settings, they enjoy learning, they enjoy rigor rigor /rig·or/ (rig´er) [L.] chill; rigidity.
rigor mor´tis the stiffening of a dead body accompanying depletion of adenosine triphosphate in the muscle fibers. , they seek challenges, and they value toying with ideas. Most importantly Adv. 1. most importantly - above and beyond all other consideration; "above all, you must be independent"
above all, most especially , they do not feel inferior or inadequate in academic settings and challenging classes; nor do they feel the need to camouflage, negate, deny, or minimize their academic abilities and skills. As previously stated, these males have a strong work ethic. They spend time doing schoolwork; they study and require little pushing from parents and teachers. Essentially, Black males with positive or high academic self-confidence understand that effort is just as important, or more important, than the ability to succeed.
In the 1930s and later, Kenneth and Mamie Phipps Clark (1939a, 1939b, 1940, 1947, 1950) shared research on their doll studies to illustrate the harmful effects of segregation on Black children. Their studies, in particular, showed that Black children (preschoolers) viewed Black dolls Black dolls are dark-skinned, inanimate representations of dark-skinned people. Representations--both stereotypical and accurate--fashioned into playthings, date back to the early 1800s. More accurate, mass produced depictions are today's playthings and adult collectibles. as inferior to White dolls. These findings had a powerful influence on the Brown v. Board of Education Brown v. Board of Education (of Topeka)
(1954) U.S. Supreme Court case in which the court ruled unanimously that racial segregation in public schools violated the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (1954) decision to end segregation. Their work eventually encapsulated the concept of racial identity and pride and further demonstrated the potentially negative effects of segregation and educational deprivation on children's psyches.
Much can be borrowed from this research when working with Black males. Essentially, one must consider their identities relative to race and gender. As with self-esteem and self-concept, racial identity affects Black males' achievement and motivation (Cross & Vandiver, 2001). For these males, race has high salience; they are comfortable being identified as Black; they have racial pride. These Black males seek greater self-understanding as racial beings but are also aware of the importance of adapting to their environment and being multicultural, namely, being confident and at ease in both White and Black settings (Cross & Vandiver).
These males do not equate achievement with acting White or selling out (Ferguson 2001, 2002; Ford, 1996; Fordham, 1988); thus, they refuse to be defined by social injustices based on gender and race or ethnicity. They refuse to succumb to low expectations and will work diligently to change such expectations.
Masculinity is an oft-misunderstood, sensitive, and controversial topic. In this model, I refer only to the sense that African American males with a scholar identity do not equate being intelligent, studious or talented with being feminine or unmanly. Rather than inculcate in·cul·cate
tr.v. in·cul·cat·ed, in·cul·cat·ing, in·cul·cates
1. To impress (something) upon the mind of another by frequent instruction or repetition; instill: inculcating sound principles. these ideas, these African American males believe that males are intelligent and that being gifted or intelligent does not detract from detract from
verb 1. lessen, reduce, diminish, lower, take away from, derogate, devaluate << OPPOSITE enhance
verb 2. one's sense of masculinity or manhood and manliness (hooks, 2004; Majors, 1986; Majors & Billson, 1992; Staples, 1982; Whiting, 2006a, 2006b). If allowed, youth will, through multimedia sources, family, community, and school, develop a destructive meaning of masculinity. Without the guidance of caring and responsible adults, young Blacks males will be forever challenged to reach their potential.
SCHOLAR IDENTITY: SOME STRATEGIES FOR EMPOWERING BLACK MALES
Having detailed the characteristics of a scholar identity, I now turn to some strategies for its promotion. I build upon Lee's (1991) work, which proposes several developmental guidelines that are an essential part of any school-based empowerment initiative.
Empowerment Strategies Should Be Developmental
Far too often, the only guidance young Black males receive comes after they have committed an offense against the social order. Generally, the goal of such "guidance" is not on skill development but rather punishment. Educators should be proactive (focus on prevention first and foremost) in their efforts to empower Black males to meet challenges that often lead to problems in school and beyond.
Empowerment Strategies Should Provide for Competent Adult Black Male Leaders
This guideline is important for at least two reasons. Specifically, some scholars believe that only a Black man can teach a Black boy how to become a Black man. By virtue of attaining adult status as someone who is Black and male, the Black male alone has the gender and cultural perspectives and experiences to accurately address the developmental challenges facing Black boys (Grantham, 2004b; Lee, 1991). However, seeing yourself in an individual who most closely embodies the characteristics (race and gender) ascribed to you in a positive light has value that is intrinsically sought. Therefore, I propose, without apology, that it is only a Black man who can fully model the attitudes and behaviors of successful Black manhood. Empathy is greatest when people share similar race and gender backgrounds and experiences. It is only a Black man who can say to a Black male child or teen, "I've been there; I've had that happen to me for similar reasons; I share your pain." Having said this, it is true that Black females, and males and females from other racial groups, have been able to successfully raise and educate Black males (e.g., Carson, 1999; Suskind, 1998).
Recruit and Retain Qualified Black Males as Leaders and Teachers in Schools
Black males comprise 1% of the teaching profession (Condition of Education, 2009) and several organizations have taken a stand for increasing teacher diversity and have created initiatives to recruit more diverse groups into the teaching profession (e.g., the Association of Teacher Educators, the NEA Foundation, and the American Educational Research Association). Given the paucity of Black male educators in American schools (reaching epidemic portions), it is commonplace for Black boys to go through an entire school career with little or no interaction with a Black male teacher, counselor, or administrator. When necessary, therefore, efforts should be made to actively recruit, train, and support Black men who can serve as leaders or role models in empowerment interventions.
Empowerment Strategies Should Be Culturally Responsive
Educators need to find ways to incorporate African and African American cultural dimensions Cultural dimensions are the mostly psychological dimensions, or value constructs, which can be used to describe a specific culture. These are often used in Intercultural communication-/Cross-cultural communication-based research.
See also: Edward T. into the empowerment process for young Black males. Culture-specific or culturally responsive approaches to academic and counseling intervention transform basic aspects of Black life, generally ignored or perceived as negative in the traditional educational framework, into positive developmental experiences. For example, Black art forms (e.g., music, poetry) and culture-specific curriculum materials might be incorporated into empowerment interventions as counseling or educational resources (see Ford & Harris, 1999 for extensive multicultural curriculum that challenges students who are gifted and diverse; also see the works of James Banks, Geneva Geneva, canton and city, Switzerland
Geneva (jənē`və), Fr. Genève, canton (1990 pop. 373,019), 109 sq mi (282 sq km), SW Switzerland, surrounding the southwest tip of the Lake of Geneva. Gay, Janice Hale, Asa Hilliard, Kwanza Kunjufu, Jacqueline Irvine, and Barbara Shade).
Scholars who promote culturally responsive curricula recognize the power of this curriculum to transform the lives of Black students (e.g., Banks, 2006; Ford & Harris, 1999; Gay, 2004). They argue that Black students will become more motivated and engaged when they see themselves affirmed in the materials and content. According to Banks, when teachers infuse in·fuse
1. To steep or soak without boiling in order to extract soluble elements or active principles.
2. To introduce a solution into the body through a vein for therapeutic purposes. multicultural content into the curriculum, Black students feel more empowered (e.g., a greater sense of self-efficacy). Reading the biographies of Black heroes--past and present---can help inspire Black males as well as develop their sense of social justice (e.g., W.E.B. DuBois; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Malcolm X Malcolm X, 1925–65, militant black leader in the United States, also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, b. Malcolm Little in Omaha, Neb. He was introduced to the Black Muslims while serving a prison term and became a Muslim minister upon his release in 1952. ; Vivien Thomas Vivien Theodore Thomas (August 29, 1910 – November 26, 1985) was an African-American surgical technician who helped develop the procedures used to treat blue baby syndrome in the 1940s. ; James Baldwin Noun 1. James Baldwin - United States author who was an outspoken critic of racism (1924-1987)
Baldwin, James Arthur Baldwin ; Ralph Ellison Noun 1. Ralph Ellison - United States novelist who wrote about a young Black man and his struggles in American society (1914-1994)
Ellison, Ralph Waldo Ellison ; Carter G. Woodson Carter Godwin Woodson (b. December 19 1875, New Canton, Buckingham County, Virginia — d. April 3 1950, Washington, D.C.) was an African American historian, author, journalist and the founder of Black History Month. ; Henry Louis Gates; Cornel West "Cornell West" redirects here. For the area of the Ithaca campus, see Cornell West Campus.
Cornel Ronald West (born June 2, 1953 in Tulsa, Oklahoma) is an American scholar and public intellectual. ; Haki R. Madhubuti Haki R. Madhubuti (born Don Luther Lee on February 23 1942 in Little Rock, Arkansas, United States) is a renowned African-American author, educator, and poet. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa, and served in the U.S. Army from 1960 to 1963. ; Michael E. Dyson; and Frantz Fanon Frantz Fanon (July 20, 1925 – December 6, 1961) was an author from Martinique, essayist, psychoanalyst, and revolutionary. He was perhaps the preeminent thinker of the 20th century on the issue of decolonization and the psychopathology of colonization. ). This list of scholars is not meant to preclude women scholars, but the focus must be on healthy empowerment of young Black males. Tatum (2005) recommends other literature and activities designed to address the reading gap among Black adolescent males.
Empowerment Strategies (e.g., Rites-of-Passage Ceremony)
Unlike the traditions of African culture where great significance was attached to the transition from boyhood to manhood, there is little ceremony in contemporary African American culture African American culture or Black culture, in the United States, includes the various cultural traditions of African American communities. It is both part of, and distinct from American culture. The U.S. for the formal acknowledgement of life transitions for young boys. It is important, therefore, that at the completion of any empowerment experience for Black males, there is some ceremonial acknowledgement of their accomplishment. Families and males from the community should be encouraged to participate in these ceremonies (see Whiting, 2004).
Having shared some guidelines to consider in empowerment initiatives, I now turn to three specific recommendations for change.
FROM BLACK MALE EMPOWERMENT TO EDUCATOR EMPOWERMENT
The academic and social problems confronting Black males are often exacerbated by the attitudes and practices of educators, which often suggest a lack of sensitivity or understanding of Black culture and the dynamics of Black male development (Bonner, 2001; Grantham, 1998, 2004b; Lee, 1991). Educators focused on Black male empowerment must assume the role of educational advocate and caregiver. Educational advocacy involves consultation activities initiated by educators to help their colleagues to better understand the dynamics of male development from a Black perspective and make the teaching and learning process more relevant to Black male realities.
Culturally Sensitive Attitudes and Behaviors
It is an educator's unalterable responsibility to challenge and to change any attitudes or behaviors that may be detrimental to the academic, social, and emotional well-being of Black male students (Lee, 1991). Educational advocates, therefore, should help school personnel to (a) examine policies and procedures Policies and Procedures are a set of documents that describe an organization's policies for operation and the procedures necessary to fulfill the policies. They are often initiated because of some external requirement, such as environmental compliance or other governmental to ensure that teachers and counselors do not under-refer Black males for gifted education screening; (b) recognize and challenge stereotypes they may have acquired about Black males and their expectations of them; and (c) develop an understanding of gender and cultural diversity, namely developmental, social, and academic issues facing males in general, as well as males who are culturally and linguistically diverse (see Figure 1).
Culturally Responsive Content and Methods
Optimal learning occurs when Black males perceive that they are appreciated and respected, as is their unique view of the world (Lee, 1991). Educational advocates should, therefore, (a) find ways to integrate the accomplishments of Black men into the existing curriculum structure and (b) continuously examine the curriculum to ensure that Black males are included in primary and nonstereotypical ways (Banks, 2006). To do so, educators must seek educational and social experiences whereby they can gain extensive preparation in becoming culturally aware, sensitive, and competent (e.g., Storti, 1998, 1999).
Black Male Role Model Presence
In addition to increasing the number of Black male educators, as previously noted, strategies must be aimed at compensating for role model absence in the school setting (Grantham, 2004a, 2004b). Educational advocates, therefore, should help school personnel to (a) find ways to ensure the inclusion of Black males in classroom activities as tutors, educational assistants, storytellers, "room fathers," and field trip escorts; (b) find ways to encourage the participation of Black males in parent-teacher associations and other school organizations; and (c) acknowledge the importance of noneducational personnel (e.g., Black male custodians and lunchroom staff) as valid mentors/role models and find ways to use them in the educational process wherever possible.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
For reasons discussed throughout this article, few Black males have been formally identified as gifted and those who are identified face unique barriers. Thus, those who need the challenge are failing to reach their potential and failing to gain access to needed educational services. Too many of these males face social barriers--from adults and peers-and they have come to believe that they are neither intelligent nor academically capable. This waste of human potential and talent must be rectified. One strategy offered herein is that educators can help put Black males on the fight trajectory by focusing on their self-perceptions in academic settings.
That is, a scholar identity model was proposed as one model that can be adopted to address low achievement, underachievement, and academic disengagement disengagement /dis·en·gage·ment/ (dis?en-gaj´ment) emergence of the fetus from the vaginal canal.
n. among Black males. The sooner we begin this process of change, the sooner we can alter the academic and social forecast of these male students.
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) A method of applying a persistent name to documents, publications and other resources on the Internet rather than using a URL, which can change over time. : 10.1080/02783190903177598
Received 18 May 2006; accepted 2 May 2008.
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(1) DuBois described this double consciousness in the following way: After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,--a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness--an American, a Negro: two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder a·sun·der
1. Into separate parts or pieces: broken asunder.
2. Apart from each other either in position or in direction: The curtains had been drawn asunder. .
The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,--this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self." (Excerpted from the chapter "Of Our Spiritual Strivings" in DuBois' book The Souls of Black Folk)
(2) Generally referred to as a "Black tax," or the toll paid by Blacks because they are not White, the use of "White tax" is a paradigm shift A dramatic change in methodology or practice. It often refers to a major change in thinking and planning, which ultimately changes the way projects are implemented. For example, accessing applications and data from the Web instead of from local servers is a paradigm shift. See paradigm. with regard to race, White anti-Black discriminatory practices and language. In effect, the argument is that Whites levy against Blacks, whether intentional or unintentional, a tax due to their, as W.E.B. Dubois called it, "unforgivable Blackness."
Gilman Whiting teaches courses on the African American Diaspora, black masculinity, race, sport and American culture, and qualitative research Qualitative research
Traditional analysis of firm-specific prospects for future earnings. It may be based on data collected by the analysts, there is no formal quantitative framework used to generate projections. methods. His areas of research include work with young Black fathers, low-income minorities, welfare reform and fatherhood initiatives, education reform, special needs populations (gifted, at-risk learners, young Black men and scholar identities), and health in the Black community. He is the author of more than 30 scholarly publications relating to minority populations. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Address correspondence to Gilman Whiting, College of Arts and Sciences & Human and Organizational Development, Peabody College of Education, Vanderbilt University, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37235. E-mail: email@example.com