Good News #1: The 9 Biggest Lies About Black Males and Academic Success
By Ivory A. Toldson, PhD, theRoot.com
(Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Dr. Toldson’s speech to the inaugural summit of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans: Addressing the Socio-Cultural Factors Impacting the Academic Achievement and Development of African American Males. Toldson is deputy director of White House Initiatives on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.)
In general, the data presented often paints a bleak picture of the educational experiences of black males in school and the circumstances that frame their experiences. This image is reinforced by the language we too often use when we assess the living conditions of black males in urban areas. Phrases like “crime-ridden,” “broken homes” and “drug-infested” are catch-all phrases that each contribute to a myriad of deficit-oriented viewpoints that, in effect, condemn the families and communities that are entrusted with shaping the lives of black male youth.
In order to promote their academic success and well-being, there is a need to delve deeper in to the data, as well as go beyond the data to understand the various ways in which young black males are surviving, thriving and demonstrating a level of resilience belied by popular statistics. We also have to do a better job of vetting the data to make sure they are true.
The following are a few of the greatest lies ever told about black males:
1. There are more black men in prison than in college. Today there are approximately 600,000 more black men in college than in jail, and the best research evidence suggests that the line was never true to begin with. Read more.
2. Black boys can’t read. Before blindly accepting reports that less than a fifth of black boys (and less than half of white boys) can read, learn about the NAEP, take a practice test and learn about diverse learning styles. Read more.
3.Black youth of today are more violent than any generation in history. Today, the rate of violence among black youth is slightly less than it was before 1980 and less than half the rate that it was in the 1990s. Read more.
Discover the other six lies when you read the full story.
Good News #2: Oakland Teen Wows With 5.0 GPA and 2100 SAT Score
Akintunde Ahmed, academic superstar, says looks can be deceiving.
Akintunde Ahmad just sees himself as a regular 17-year-old, but the Oakland, Calif., teen has stunned everyone with his 5.0 GPA and 2100 SAT score, which have led to his acceptance at some of the country’s most prestigious universities.
“Like, my whole life, people have been telling me to stay on this path and everything will fall, the cards will fall like you want them to,” Akintunde told KGO-TV, proudly tipping a hat to the Oakland public school system.
Akintunde walks around with pictures documenting his astounding academic achievements saved on his smartphone, not because he wants to show off but because few believe that the teenager, who sports long dreadlocks, has actually reached such lofty heights. He says he is often judged for his appearance….
Akintunde has his heart set on either Yale or Brown and is interested in pursuing premed or prelaw.
Good News #3: Chicago’s Urban Prep Does It Again: 100 Percent College Acceptance
Chicago Urban Prep Academies’ graduates excel in college matriculation – for the fifth year in a row!
From the time they enter Chicago’s Urban Prep Academies, the young men are asked to wear red ties. They may change these ties only once: after they have been admitted into college. During this year’s graduation ceremony, students who had achieved the honor were given new yellow ties with red stripes, a gesture to symbolize the hard work and dedication displayed in not only graduating from high school but also continuing to pursue education in one of the nation’s toughest cities.
For the fifth year in a row, all of the graduating students at Urban Prep Academies’ three campuses (pdf)—240, to be exact—donned new ties as the graduating class has again achieved a 100 percent acceptance rate into four-year colleges and universities.
“The tie represents, to me, moving on from a boy to becoming a young man and actually doing something with my life,” graduating senior Dumar Harris told NBC Chicago.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke at the graduation Tuesday, and NBA star and Chicago native Dwyane Wade donated $10,000 through his foundation to help pay for the prom, NBC Chicago reports.
85% of Chicago Urban Prep Academies students qualify for free or reduced lunch.
“I got into a lot of different schools, but right now I’m thinking about four different choices,” student Keshawn Cathery told NBC Chicago.
“I got into Georgetown University, which I will be attending in the fall,” student Derrick Little said.
The 2010 class, the first to graduate from the Chicago school, is on course to graduate from college.
“Being the first graduating class, you see a lot of progression, you see a lot of downfall, but everything comes just together. If you keep striving for that one goal, no one can tell you no,” Urban Prep alumnus Paris Williams told the news station.
With its challenging curriculum, the public charter school has had some students leave the program because they weren’t able to manage it. “Urban Prep is not for everyone, and those students may leave us,” school founder and CEO Tim King told the news station. “But the fact that some students choose to leave us should not be used as a weapon against the students who have chosen to stay and have achieved this incredible accomplishment.”
SUPERSURVIVORS: The Surprising Link Between Suffering & Success
By David B. Feldman, PhD and Lee Daniel Kravetz
(To order this book so that part of the proceeds supports this museum, click here.)
A New York businesswoman struck by cancer changes her life and becomes an international rock star. A man loses his eyesight and attempts to become the first blind person to row a boat across the Atlantic Ocean….and succeeds. A young basketball player, mangled in a horrible car wreck, rebuilds his body becomes one of Hollywood’s most successful stuntmen.
Five billion people worldwide will survive a trauma in their lives. Most experience inner growth even as their outer lives return to normal. But sometimes, survivors do more than bounce back.
Dr. James Cameron, lynching survivor, addresses US Senators and descendants of lynching victims, Washington DC, 2005.
Sometimes they bounce forward.
Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering & Success explores extraordinary accomplishments in the wake of catastrophic trauma to help us understand how ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things.
Supersurvivors offers a bold new vision for understanding and harnessing resilience through the lens of positive psychology. Beginning where resilience ends, Supersurvivors examines the stories and science behind the surprising number of cases in which survivors don’t just grow; they revolutionize their lives. Having survived, these extraordinary individuals radically deviate from their previous life paths.
Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu talks during a press conference in Cape Town, South Africa
In so doing, they transform the meaning of their personal tragedies by making them the basis for dramatic and long-term life change, often discovering hidden parts of themselves and contributing to the world in ways they never thought possible.
‘SUPERSURVIVORS: The Surprising Link Between Suffering & Success’ by David B. Feldman, PhD, and Lee Daniel Kravetz, will be published by HarperCollins/Harper Wave in June, 2014. It will be available in hardcover and ebook wherever books are sold.