The Crisis of Black Males is a National Problem

David Banks, president of the Eagle Academy Foundation based in New York City, N.Y. (Freddie Allen/NNPA News Wire)

David Banks, president of the Eagle Academy Foundation based in New York City, N.Y. (Freddie Allen/NNPA News Wire)

WASHINGTON – The failure to invest in Black males threatens America’s real-world economic future and national security, experts say.

“We have to realize that we are moving backwards and the country has to realize that the greatest national security and economic security threat is not from some outside enemy, it is from our failure to invest in these children and spending all this money on prisons instead of schools,” said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization that advocates for children with a focus on poor and minority children. “The Black community has to raise a ruckus nobody is going to do it for us.”

David Banks, president of the Eagle Academy Foundation, said leaders don’t realize the gravity of marginalizing Black males.

“They have to begin to understand, economically, that their failure to invest in this represents their own demise,” said Banks. “This country will not continue to be globally competitive if they’re wasting this human capital. It’s not going to work.”

According to a statistical profile compiled by Educational Training Services and the Children’s Defense Fund, Black males enter high school with great expectations, only to see them dashed in resource-starved classrooms.

“As African American students begin 9th grade, 62 percent of them expect to attain at least a bachelor’s degree. However, only 18.5 percent of Black men between the ages of 25-29 reached that goal in 2012,” according to the ETS/CDF profile.

A 2012 study by The Schott Foundation for Public Education found that barely half (52 percent) of Black males who started ninth grade in the 2006-2007 school year graduated on time. According to the study, 78 percent of White male students graduated in four years that started in the 2006-2007 school year.

The profile notes that, “Over the course of the childhood, two out of three Black children (66 percent) born from 1985 through 2000 were raised in neighborhoods with at least a 20 percent poverty rate, compared to just 6 percent of White children.”

Many researchers say that economic and educational disparities force Black males to make tough life decisions without desperately needed parental guidance.

“They come in behind the curve and keep losing ground,” said Edelman. “Then, they have schools that are separate and still, mostly, unequal. They’ve got the least experienced teachers.”

Edelman said that kids that need the most should get the most, but it’s just the opposite.

According to the Educational Testing Service profile, “18 percent of Black secondary school students attend high-poverty schools compared to 2 percent of White secondary school students.”

And when minorities make up 90 percent of the student body, those schools spend $733 less per student annually than schools where 90 percent of the students are White.

“In high schools with a student population that is at least half Black, 25 percent of math teachers do not have a college degree in math and are not certified to teach math. For predominately Whites schools, this figure is 8 percent,” the profile reported.

Twenty-five percent of Black students go to schools that are dubbed “dropout factories,” where less than 60 percent of 9th graders are enrolled in the 12th grade four years later. Five percent of White students attend such schools.

Edelman said that the lure of the streets coupled with the absence of enough positive opportunities and good role models pose unique challenges for young Black men at a time when, like most teenagers, they are testing the limits.

“They navigate to gangs and peers for family and on top of that, they have all of these external cultural messages from the TV and the Internet about violence,” said Edelman. “You have to have all of this bling and you don’t have the means to get it, because there are no jobs.”

According to the latest jobs report, Black youth (16-19 years of age) face a 43.6 percent unemployment rate compared to White youth at 20.4 percent.

“It’s the absence of mediating adults in our churches, in our families, in our neighborhoods, we’re scared of these kids you overlay that with drugs and violence and guns everywhere and you’ve got a pretty combustible thing,” said Edelman.

The ETS/CDF profile stated: “Black male high school students are twice as likely as their White peers to report that they did not go to school because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to and from school on at least one day during the 30 days before the survey.”

The profile continued: “In 2010, there were 3.5 more White males ages 15-19 than Black males of the same age. 114 White young men were killed in gun homicides, while 903 Black young men lost their lives in gun homicides.”

During a recent conference, a number of programs focused on high school-aged young Black men were held up as models for success. One program led by David Banks in New York City features a network of all-boys public schools and has managed to improve graduation rates among young Black males.

According to their website, “The Eagle Academy Model is a maximized educational approach to nurture the ‘whole’ child so that each Eagle Academy student is successful in the classroom and in life.”

The academy teaches the young men the importance of holding each other accountable “as students, as family members, and as engaged citizens in their communities.”

David Banks, president of the Eagle Academy Foundation said, “It’s the kind of culture that we have been able to build that helps young men really understand who they are.”

Banks said that getting parents engaged in the educational process often meant doing things like scheduling weekend meetings with parents may be less convenient for teachers, but it works for parents who are extremely busy, sometimes single, juggling jobs and chores at home.

“We figured out how to get parents to really be involved and to buy-in and that’s critically important when it comes to young men and how you get them to be fully engaged in their own education,” said Banks. “Wednesday night meetings at six o’clock and seven o’clock are good for school people, but they’re not good for parents.”

Banks said that Saturday morning meetings when you start on time and end on time appeal to parents.

School officials say that The Eagle Academy in Bronx, N.Y. boasts an 87 percent graduation rate.

The Children’s Defense Fund also offers summer enrichment programs that provide positive mentoring and role models for at-risk youth and works to foster constructive attitudes towards learning, increased parental and family involvement.

Currently, CDF operates 197 Freedom School programs that serve 12,000 children in 29 states.

The profile compiled by Educational Training Services and the Children’s Defense Fund reported that, “Over the course of his or her lifetime, a single high school dropout costs the nation approximately $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes and productivity.” And because high school dropouts often end up behind bars, the failure to invest in young Black men drains resources from the cradle to the prison.

Banks added, “So, even if you don’t love these little Black boys but if you love your own economic condition you’ll recognize that you have to invest in them to protect your own investment.”
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By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent

Comments

  1. Theil Sylve says:

    Let us as honorable men (and I’m not dismissing the Mother’s role) “teach” our “sons” how to be smart, intelligent, Bible wise, productive, proud, strong, brave, courageous, accountable, historic, respectful, truthful to self, God and family, clear, concise, faithful to God and Family, God fearing leaders, loving, kind and thus honorable MEN of integrity.

  2. Theil Sylve says:

    I Wonder “if” we are Aware of the Miscarriages.

    By: Rev. Theil Sylve 7/11/2013

    I am a soon to be 52 year old black male but I’m not sure if
    that counts for anything anymore. The reason for my discontent is that we live
    in a Nation where racism is still a major topic and a topic that many shy away
    for fear of reprisals and insults. Whoopie Goldberg voiced her thoughts concerning
    Paula Dean; “People or not so angry that she used the word Nigger but that she
    said she wanted to have a plantation wedding where little “niggers” dress up.
    The three white women sitting at the table with Goldberg dismissed her view and
    stuck to the idea that Paula saying the N word was the fault and cause of the
    outraged that surrounds her at this time. What they failed to recognize was the
    wisdom given to them by one who knows first hand what racism is, Whoopie.
    Racism is not using the N word, many people white and especially black use the
    word everyday although in more general terms. Using the N word does not
    necessarily make one a racist, racism (at least in America) is believing in
    your soul that someone is less than human because of the color of there skin. “Justice
    and equality for all” well, it sounds good but they do not play hand in hand in
    our court system at times, nor does it extend out to all our citizens.

    The Trayvon Martin case,
    I watched the case play out on CNN like most of you for a couple of days and
    then I having enough turned it off. I have served on jury duty so I have some
    experience with how our system works in trial cases. The jury is given
    instruction as to the law and how it is to be applied to the case. The
    prosecutor and defense submit there best case by arguing the evidence,
    slandering and embellishing the particulars and try there all to sway the jury
    to there side. The truth of the case, facts, logic and reason has to be found
    in those few and undefined moments. You as a jurist have to pay close attention
    to what is being said, testified too and validated by and then weigh it by the
    law. The law in this case is, Self Defense “Stand your Ground”.

    Mr. Zimmerman
    stated that he was attacked by a kid named Trayvon in the rain in the
    neighborhood to which Zimmerman was a resident of and because he feared for his
    life Mr. Zimmerman had no choice but to pull out his concealed gun, shoot and
    kill young Trayvon Martin. Mr. Zimmerman pleads self defense in accordance with
    the stand your ground law.

    Now! Let’s look at this more in-depth for a moment. The
    facts are: 1. Mr. Zimmerman who was a resident of the neighborhood that Trayvon
    was walking through, 2. his wife was concerned about the rash of current
    break-ins and told her husband of these concerns, 3. Zimmerman who is carrying
    a weapon and has a permit to do, leaves his home on one rainy day, gets into his
    truck and as he’s getting ready to leave sees Trayvon walking down the street
    in a wavering pattern. 4. He decides to follow Trayvon, 5. As he is following
    Trayvon, Mr. Zimmerman exits his vehicle and now follows Trayvon on foot. 6. He
    calls 911 and tells them that a young black male is walking through the
    neighborhood and he seems to be under the influence of something. 7. The
    dispatcher takes the report and tells Zimmerman that the police are on there
    way. 8. Zimmerman acknowledges the dispatcher, the police are on the way and
    that he wants to continue to follow “this guy”. 9. The dispatcher asks; “are
    you still following him?” to which he replies “yes”. The dispatcher repeats to
    Zimmerman that the police are already on there way and that they do not need
    him to follow Trayvon. 10. Zimmerman implies that he will wait by his truck for
    the police to arrive and tells the dispatcher the location of said truck. 11. Zimmerman
    doesn’t stay by his truck; he continues to follow Trayvon Martin, 12. Trayvon
    who is now aware and concerned about whom may be following him calls a friend
    and expresses to her the concern (the concern being that someone is following
    him) and he pulls his hoodie down further over his head. The famous hoodie, has
    become the new “reasonable suspicion (racial profiling)” rule for stopping and
    harassing mainly black and brown teenagers…..May we approach the bench your
    Honor?

    I lived in Palmdale/Lancaster
    Ca in the 80’s, I drove a new dodge charger when I first moved there, for
    almost two years I drove that car and never once did I get pulled over by the
    police. I then purchased a used white BMW 320I and it wasn’t a week before I
    was pulled over and asked questions by police, never a ticket just questions.
    My friends laughed when I told of the events with the police but there laughs
    were quieted one late summer’s night. My friend asked if I would take him to
    the airport to pick up his girlfriend who lived with us. On our way home we
    stopped at the gas station, my friend who was a black male got out went into
    the mart and returned to the car. His girlfriend who was white was sitting in
    the back seat while we set up front. As I started the car to leave we noticed a
    police car drive by with the two officers staring at us, they immediately hit
    the gas, spun there car around pulled into the gas station and blocked my car
    from exiting. Let’s remember, these were the same friends whom laughed at me,
    now there sitting in the car saying,” you’ve have got to be kidding me!!” The officer walks up to my drivers door ask
    me for my papers, examines the documents and then ask, “is this your car?”
    before I could say a word, my friend asks, “what do you mean if this is his
    car, he just showed you his ID?” the other officer looks into the back seat,
    sees a pretty white girl and asks if she is OK? She said some things to that
    officer that I don’t think I have to repeat. I think you get the picture of the
    ole reasonable suspicion (racial profiling) rule not to far from the new rule.

    So, Mr. Zimmerman is
    pursuing, I mean following Trayvon who is now aware and concerned that he is
    being followed. Now at some point Zimmerman catches up with Trayvon and we know
    the rest…or do we?

    The “Stand your Ground” principle.

    I’m not a lawyer and
    don’t claim to study law but I think I can break down “Stand your ground” to its
    simplest form; you don’t have to run
    away. Example: someone breaks into your home, you see him he sees you.
    Normally the rule was, get out the house if you can and call the police. In
    some states, if you could have left the house but chose to stay and fight or
    protect your property you could be charged with whatever harm came to the
    robber. The rule was/is that if you do shoot someone; make sure they are in
    your house when you do, not on the front lawn or back yard fence but physically
    in your house. You could not chase after them outside of your house and harm
    them because the potential or threat of harm to you and your family had been
    evaded when they decided to leave or flee and therefore all others matters are
    of a police nature. Stand your ground purpose was to protect law biding
    citizens from lawsuits and prosecution when they chose not to run away from a
    threat but when faced with crime and or violence to defend themselves from it.
    To be clear, you cannot be the instigator, the aggressor or one who pursues
    another and then claim self defense stand your ground. It is when someone
    pursues you, threatens your life that you then have the right to turn and
    defend yourself.

    The Case.

    We have two people, one walking in the rain on his way home
    Trayvon Martin and one leaving his home and on his way from his truck spots the
    other, so far no harm no foul. Zimmerman takes note that the run walking in the
    rain seems to be walking a bit funny or suspicious as if he is on something, so
    far no harm no foul. Zimmerman who is
    much bigger, older, experienced, who has a personal trainer to help him learn
    to fight and not to be missed is also carrying a loaded gun with one in the
    chamber (who walks around with a bullet in the chamber/ even police don’t do
    that) tucked into his waist. After being told by the police dispatcher not to
    pursue or follow Trayvon, he continues to do so anyway. He follows Trayvon who
    now knows he’s being followed according to the phone conversation he was having
    with a girl. Zimmerman and Trayvon meet up, a fight ensues and young Trayvon is
    shot dead.

    The Law.

    According to the rule of law what would apply is this; if I
    were older than you, bigger than you, more dangerous than you because I carry a
    loaded gun with a permit and oh yeah one in the chamber and I was following you
    a young black male while you were on your way home and you at some point come
    face to face with the one who has been following you and you having enough or
    just scared turns and faces your stalker who then has the right to claim stand
    your ground? Trayvon was never a threat to Zimmerman, he was not at Zimmerman’s
    home, was not approaching Zimmerman’s property, had not committed a single
    crime against Zimmerman (not walking a straight line in the rain is not a crime
    yet for black men) was not following or pursuing Zimmerman and was not carrying
    a gun loaded or otherwise. Question; who then has the right to protect
    themselves? Who then has the right to be fearful? Who then should “stand your
    ground” apply to? What more should Trayvon have done? He was just trying to get
    home out of the rain but because he put his hoodie on to protect himself, the
    phone from the rain and the glares of Zimmerman, “he seemed to be wavering”
    quotes Zimmerman; maybe Trayvon being scared didn’t want this person to know
    where he stayed. Maybe Trayvon summoned up some Joshua courage and stood his
    ground not wanting it to follow him to the steps of his mother and fathers
    house. Maybe his father taught him what my father taught me, don’t ever run
    from bullies, one carefully placed right hand to the nose and they will coward.
    Times are different now, some men and most boys coward quick, revert to guns as
    there fist because they are too scared to take a butt kicking.

    This case is NOT
    about the cloths Trayvon chose to wear, pictures that he took in the past, the
    effects of racism or differential treatment that he and his family suffered,
    this case is not about Pres. Obama stating that Trayvon looked like he could be
    his son, this case is not about Black and White relations, this case is about
    the lack of respect for life and the pursuit of Justice. It would be a total
    miscarriage of justice for anyone not to believe that only Trayvon would have
    the legal right to claim self defense/stand your ground because that’s what
    hero’s do.

    Note; I hope you feel my heart.

    Theil Sylve

    I have much more to
    say but…………………