THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY REACTS
Obviously the solutions to these problems are not simple. Public policy demands that these fathers take responsibility for their children, however this cannot happen unless there is also greater effort to develop job programs as well as programs such as parenting classes that. include fathers.
As a result of these many issues contributing to the general breakdown of the family resulting in a preponderance of single-parent families, the African-American community has decided to organize, to raise the consciousness of men, especially young men, of the dilemma in America and their deteriorating relations with the family and the community at large.
The African American community has begun to recognize that African American males are in serious trouble. They have begun to rally as never before - organizations such as
100 Black Men
, which is involved in various ways in the community, including an extensive centering program.
Concerned Black Men
tries to help vulnerable young African-American males and to serve as role models and mentors. Civil rights organizations have developed various “Black Male Responsibility” projects and some school districts are considering the merits of organizing all-black male schools to address their needs.
The Milwaukee school district has opened two schools (one elementary, the other middle school) that will cater specifically to African-American males’ academic and social needs. While the schools will accept children from all backgrounds, “they will emphasize African-American studies and seek to foster self-esteem and responsibility by offering school time counseling and discussions on such topics as male sexuality and entrepreneurship.” (Williams 15) The schools will also strive to have a higher ratio of African-American male teachers than the district norm.
A similar idea is taking place in Baltimore Maryland. This class however doesn’t do anything differently as far as curriculum is concerned, the idea is to have an African-American male teacher as a role model for young boys. The principal of the school noticed that because of the chances taking place in the neighborhoods the boys no longer were exposed to men on the corners going to work. They were now seeing aimless young men on street corners. At about the same time a teacher, (African-American male) noticed the young boys in his class begin to take on some of his mannerisms. “All these kids are saying,” Boynton says, “Teach me, discipline me, and love me.” Along the way, he adds, he hopes to instill in the youngsters some sense of direction for their lives. “In here” he says, “ we’re always talking about respect. responsibility, and self-control.” (Williams l9)
Another program called the
Houston Endowment INC
has contributed 1 million dollars to Texas Southern University to fund the school’s innovative Black Male Initiative, a program that aims to improve the quality of life for African-American males. BMI is a component of Texas Southern University’s Center on Family. “The program concentrates on the educational, social and economic needs of Black males include recruiting, mentoring, counseling, employment, tutoring, seminars, traveling and research.” (Moore 8)
There is also a
Male Youth Project
in Washington D.C.. Three men from the community have taken on the task of acting 25 surrogate fathers for up to 60 African-American boys in an after school program.
Some have stressed the need for school-based health clinics. “In a tiny school in Arkansas, the teenage pregnancy rate was 57% before we set up a comprehensive health clinic at the school. We created after-school programs and summer programs. They have had no pregnancies, no abortions. and no dropouts for three years.” according to Joycelyn Elders the nation’s top health official.
The final program we will discuss is the
program of the Vocational Foundation. This program “drums at responsibility and pride in young fathers who typically are jobless dropouts with crimped prospects as individuals never mind as parents”. (Clines 21) The young men are counseled, sometimes helped to gain entry level positions and if necessary, helped through the maze of the court system to secure visitation rights to their children.
There are obviously many factors impacting on students in today’s society. In my discussion I have attempted to outline many of these factors so that you as a teacher will be able to lead discussions of these topics with your students. Only by exposing these ideas to our students will they be able to form opinions on the way they want to shape their future.