If two children were given the same education, support and resources over a 13 year period, it would be fair to say that both should be able to preform at the same level. The key phrase in that last sentence is “should be”. Both children should be able to comprehend the same topics, obtain the same support, and access the same resources. An acceptable thought for them not performing on the same level would be some obscure reason outside of their education, support, and resources. Now imagine someone expecting the same performance from both children, without having equal quality education, support nor resources. Would that be fair? Better yet, what if the difference in their quality of education was so drastic that it could be equivalent to comparing grad school vs grade school. Would an expectation for these two children to perform on the same level be far fetched? Sadly I would agree that it is far fetched and I would share that this is the reality for a large number of African American males in America. Studies show that one in six children not reading proficiently fail to graduate high school and most of these children are African American. How can we compete fairly if we aren’t properly prepared is my question and now burden. There are other factors that contribute to these issues, and knowing all the issues that contribute is our first step to helping solve this burdening problem. The Annie E. Casey Foundation has conducted a study that makes it clear how reading proficiency as early as third grade and poverty influence high school graduation. In this study it revealed that our academic achievements are dramatically impacted by our reading levels at the end of third grade, high poverty neighborhoods,& family poverty. This proves to me that African American Males who grow up in poverty could achieve much more if only their neighborhood wasn’t impoverished.
I believe with today being called the information age, not knowing is becoming more and more unacceptable. if any wants to know something, the internet brings it right to your finger tips. In fact, virtual learning is becoming the culturally relevant way to learn. Ive learned that if I want to help solve this problem i have to attack it at its core. Therefore if third grade reading test scores are down and contribute to high school drop outs rates, more people in our village need to help educate our kids in reference to literacy and maybe then we will see change.
READ.READ.READ….. Read where you are!! , and in a way that fits. Our solution is to provide additional resources to those that are behind early to help them perform better. When resources are provided in culturally relevant ways, it helps children remember more.
I don’t think I can stress this enough, we MUST read to lead. Think about this, troubled teens could be triumphant teens if they are given the right tools! Our problem starts with low literacy levels, but it doesn’t have to end there. Help spread the word that the issues most African American males face could be solved by encouraging a healthy reading diet. the more you know the more you can grow. The best part is technology allows reading to be done virtually anywhere #ReadWhereYouAre
The great abolitionist Frederick Douglass stated, “it is easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken men.”
Recent research has drawn correlations between literacy rates, drop out rates and incarceration rates. The study shows that if a young male of color has not learned to read by the third grade he is 20 times more likely to be incarcerated. If he drops out of high school then he is 50% more likely to be incarcerated during his adulthood.
During the times of slavery, slaveholders would prevent slaves from learning how to read as a method of maintaining control and superiority. In his autobiography, “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” the author describes how slaveholders gain and keep power over slaves from birth through adulthood. Slave owners would keep slaves ignorant of basic facts about themselves, such as their birth date and lineage. This would rob children of their natural sense of individual identity. As slave children grew older, slave owners would prevent them from learning how to read and write, as literacy would give them a sense of self‑sufficiency and capability. Slaveholders understood that literacy would also lead slaves to question the right of slaveholders to keep slaves. Finally, by keeping slaves illiterate, Southern slaveholders maintain control over what the rest of America knows about slavery because if slaves cannot write then their side of the slavery story might not be told.
As these are the facts, tell me then, why is it that we live in an age where it is more likely for an individual to know what’s trending on ESPN, Twitter or World Star Hip-Hop than it is to know what is written in the 13th amendment? The 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States and provides that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” That is to be interpreted that a free person cannot be made a slave unless said person is incarcerated.
Incarceration… Slavery by another name.
The privatization of correctional facilities has turned out to be quite profitable with the systemic incarceration of young men of color in disadvantaged areas of United States of America. This disparity is outlined beautifully by Michelle Alexander in her book ” The New Jim Crow”. The research showing the correlation between literacy rates, dropout rates and incarceration is being used to predict how many more correctional facilities will need to be built in the future. Unless we make it a point to get serious about making sure our boys learn to read before third grade and get serious about their education and graduating with a high school diploma and beyond, then the chances are they will serve as occupants for these correctional quarters.
There are many men of color who have already fallen into the circumstance of illiteracy, lack of education and even incarceration. To them I say, all hope is not lost. Your life matters. You can still learn to read where you are. Learn to read so that our boys can see you read; so that you can read to them and encourage them to read. If we want to see change in our communities then we have to be the change. We have to move out of our comfort zones. We have to change. It starts with us. We can save our boys from being the new slaves by simply reading to them and teaching them that reading is freedom.
I will stand up for literacy because I have experienced the freedom that can be found in reading a good book. In the words of the great Frederick Douglass, “once you learn to read, you are forever free.”
-Brian Douglas White
The influence the barber has in shaping a young man’s life is grossly underestimated! By Dexter Fields
The influence the barber has in shaping a young man’s life is grossly underestimated! I begin cutting young Will when he was around 9 years old…..the visits to my barberchair included conversations of doing well in school, serving in the community, golden nuggets on how to navigate effectively into manhood, as well as tips on daily grooming and hygiene. ….young William is now called Will, he is Attorney practicing in the Washington DC area, with his current efforts, he has entered the race to be a democrat for Congress….Will is also married and the father of 3 beautiful little girls… Will is still one of my current clients…..Will has expressed to me that he remembers the times spent in my chair when he was a young boy, the conversations that he never forgot, the fact that I took the time and answered all his many questions , gave advice and helped him to learn and develop. ….. I’m grateful to be a barber because the opportunities to ignite “CHANGE” for the betterment of our community is given to me daily. ……. a duty I do not take lightly.