The Current and Dire State of African American Males

Scholars have considered the status of the African American male in recent years, relating terms such as “crisis,” “disappearing,” and “vanishing” regarding his educational experience (Blake & Darling, 1994; Harper, 2006). Social commentators, such as Illinois Tea Party candidate Al Reynolds— who recently remarked that Black men are more interested in drugs than education (Kacich, 2010)— often focus on perceived maladaptive behaviors of African American males in society, with little regard to structural and historic factors that work to inhibit success in reaching educational outcomes (Willie & Reddick, 2010). The adage “when America catches a cold, Black America catches the ‘flu” (Harris, 2011) seems apt when one reviews outcomes for African Americans, and especially African American males on incarceration rates and educational outcomes. The numbers speak for themselves: there is a drastic need to inform policymakers and practitioners of these disparities, and aggressively address how these trends can be reversed. Of particular critical importance is the educational system’s failure to address the inadequate outcomes for African American males. In the words of the Task Force on the Education of Maryland’s African American Males, “there [has] been a fundamental failure on behalf of our African American male students and a persistent bias against them” (2006, p. vii).

As a result, this new article focuses on state of African American males in the Central Southwest region of the United States (Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas) regarding population, education, and incarceration rates. These data also provide a snapshot of the state of African American youth in the region, and the authors posit that one potential intervention to address the generally negative educational and correctional trends for African American males may be mentoring. Using a social/cultural capital framework, the article examines current mentoring theories, and presents models of programs that have been profiled in regional and national media. With this compendium of information, community-based organizations and individuals alike can chart a course of action to help address the dire state of educational achievement among African American males.

Cite: Reddick, R. & Vasquez Heilig, J. (2012). The current and dire state of African American male crime and education in the Central Southwest: Are mentoring constellations a promising strategy? Journal of African American Males in Education, 3(1), 29-46.*

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Categories: African Americans

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin.

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