FROM Black Star Journal on FACEBOOK
News and Events from The Black Star Project
Freed slaves in 1865 better-off than most young U.S. black men today
January 16, 2014
There are more black men in US prisons today than there were slaves in 1850 (The New Jim Crow – Michele Alexander)
By Phillip Jackson
Panama City, Panama (Latin America)
Many young Black men graduating from college today in the United States are less prepared to succeed in American society than their forefathers who were released from slavery in 1865.
When Black men were released from slavery in 1865, they became blacksmiths, bricklayers, carpenters, merchants, teachers, doctors, lawyers, farmers, ranchers, cooks, soldiers and more. They built houses, towns, communities, businesses, families, schools, universities, institutions and futures. Most of these men had less than a third-grade education. Given today’s astronomically high unemployment rates for Black men in some cities, even Black men with college degrees might not find suitable employment, ever.
One hundred forty-nine years after slavery has ended, sixty years after the Brown versus Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court ruling and twelve years after the No Child Left Behind legislation, only 10 percent of 8th-grade Black boys in public schools across America read at or above a proficient level according to the 2011 U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The failure of Black boys in American schools is an unaddressed, undeclared and uncared about national disaster in the United States!
Not being able to read at an 8th-grade level means that young Black males in America have fewer options than their forefathers who were freed slaves. They do not have the option to attend college, or enlist in the military, or even to earn a living wage! Their lack of school success directly contributes to their super-high unemployment rate, their hyper-incarceration rate in the prison system, the vicious breakdown of the family unit, the social and economic decay of the Black community, and the crippling, senseless violence that has over taken many Black communities. In fact, as many of these young Black men cycle into the criminal justice system, they find that they have virtually re-entered a slavery system similar to the one their forefathers left-modern prisons.
There is no positive future in America for young Black men who cannot read at an 8th-grade level. They will have trouble working, living and surviving legally in America, and in most of the developed world. Truth be told, they are not better-off than their forefathers who were released from slavery. Appallingly low percentages of 8th-grade Black males read at or above a functionally proficient level according to data from the U.S. Department of Education:
2011 Reading Levels of 8th-Grade Black Males
from 15 Low-Performing American School Districts*
CityPercentage of 8th-Grade Black Males Proficient in Reading
Milwaukee – 3%
Cleveland – 3%
Detroit – 5%
Washington (D.C.) – 6%
San Diego – 7%
Dallas – 7%
Baltimore City – 7%
Chicago – 9%
Jefferson County, (KY) – 9%
Atlanta – 9%
Los Angeles – 9%
Philadelphia – 9%
Austin – 9%
Houston – 9%
Hillsborough County (FL) – 9%
There is nothing more important to the future of Black American communities than to ensure that Black boys can read proficiently. The education of Black boys is too important to leave solely to schools and government. For young Black men to continue to exist and to begin to thrive as viable human being, parents, families and communities must take control of their learning. Black communities are responsible for teaching young Black men to read, to think, to build, to father and to love!
Black communities must open their own reading academies in churches, community centers, libraries and parks to ensure that young Black men will learn to read well before the 8th grade. Black communities must create their own mentoring, tutoring, employment, entrepreneurship, technology, and father development classes for young Black men and boys. We can no longer afford to wait for America’s solution to this catastrophe. Constructive help is not coming! The destruction of Black males in the U.S. can no longer be considered an American problem. These horrific statistics are evidence that America does not care–or worse!
* Source: Minority Students and Public Education by Dr. Michael Holzman
This entry was posted on January 16, 2014 at 3:49 am and is filed under Achievement Gap, Black History, Black Males, Education, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.