African Americans, particularly Black men, appear to be “event” based and not process oriented. An event is a moment, an activity, a scheduled engagement starting let’s say at 6 p.m. with a 9 p.m. end time.
An event comes and goes and does not demand accountability or a clearly defined institutionalized embraced outcome. An event just “is”.
A process, on the other hand, requires definition. A process necessitates control over the mechanism of identifiable change and, most importantly within the frame of this contextual presentation, a process requires a vision based upon tried and true community anchored cultural traditions, or the “Way” – the respected acknowledgement of the higher ordered life traditions and principles of a people.
But since we as African Americans have clearly abandoned ancestral foundations, collective visions, and “higher order” anchored principles in favor of our peculiar manner of attaining assimilationist civil rights goals, we therefore “safely” plan ”events” as opposed to the responsible engagement – as do other cultures both national and global – of self-reliant group nation building processes that will ensure successful solutions to the dire circumstances befalling our youth and our central city communities across the nation.
We often here media comments from Black community membership constantly analyzing and complaining about what the public sector service domain, particularly in education, either are or are not doing for us as opposed to our community taking the responsibility in this American multicultural society to do for ourselves based upon our own definition of that which is best for us and contributive towards the cultivation of our own group interest compatible to and successfully operative within a civil pluralistic social order.
Such is the natural flow for all other men in the world – to take care of their own and to advance their own first, foremost, and always.
So why is this common, essential, habitual, and indigenous natural law mode of behavior literally discouraged and forbidden for the Black man in America – to love self , assume control, and take care of the needs of our own people and of our children and advance our internal group interest first, foremost, and always?
This article is actually about the Tuesday, October 5 Journal Sentinel frontpage report titled, “Homicide numbers match total for all of 2009.” Journal Sentinel writer Ryan Haggerty reports that with only three months remaining in 2010, Milwaukee now records “the same number of homicides as it did in all of 2009” according to city police department figures.
The writing cites the prior weekend killing of three people, including a 3-year-old baby girl which totaled the year’s homicide count to 72, equal to last year’s 12-month total.
The argument as presented at the onset of this particular treatment concerning “event” verses “process” was actually inspired by a report from my network out of Los Angeles promoting a “Brother II Brother Day” to address the crises of our youth in the classroom and the continuing escalating numbers of young Black bodies respectively being examined for cause of death on metal examining tables in county morgues across the county.
My only point in this particular review was to document that here is yet another “event” that in all actuality would otherwise demand a self/group defined process for its resolution – a process that is proactive with total control over the mechanisms of identifiable change based upon a rescued, reclaimed and restored tried and true vision of Black/African World higher order principles. We have tried everything and everyone else from other people, most notably in education, with failed results for the majority of our children. The time has long since passed for us to now employ and practice the best of that which is our own to save our own.
The October 5, Journal Sentinel report follows this writer’s September 29 MCJ writing entitled “Self-imposed destruction” citing the September 15, 2010 Chicago based Black Star Project report that 78 children 18 years and older have been murdered since this same time last year.
The time marker is the September 25, 2009 mob beating death of 16-year-old high school honor roll student Derrion Albert at Fenger Academy High School on Chicago’s South Side.
Two days following the September 15 report, this writer’s article quoted Black Star’s additional findings noting that within the past nine-and-a half years nationwide, 67,000 Black Americans have been murdered by Black hands from 2001 through 2010.
At 67,000 Black-on-Black killings, that would be 60,246 more than the number of soldiers who died in Afghanistan and in Iraq combined according to the Black Star figures at 6,754 war related deaths from 2001 through 2010. Parallel to this comparative account, given the 67,000 figure, that would be 64,068 more Black folks killed by Black folk than were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan during the 29 years between 1889 and 1918.
The recent sharing by this writer continues to cite that as far back as 1982 – 28 years ago – Robert Staples in his work “Black Masculinity – The Black Male’s Role in American Society” noted that the largest group responsible for homicides in the country is that of Black males in the 20 to 24-year age range.
So for 28 years, our so-called Black predominately civil rights leadership, at best, has been engaged in promoting “events” or shallow and weak programs often designed by outside sources rather than in the creation of a self-defined, self reliant and group based self-sustaining “process” to stem this on-going, clearly self destructive, tide as manifested in and by the behavior of our children.
In a forthcoming writing, I will demonstrate that this “self-destruction” is occurring within us, the adult population, and is being evidenced in our children’s behavioral outcomes, both in the classroom and on the streets.
Recent articles under this by-line further records that Black males in the U.S. now have the lowest graduation rates ever at 48 percent nationwide with New York’s graduation rate for Black males topping out only at a mere 25 percent.
Such a stat is alarming, as also noted, given the August 19 “Hinterland Gazette” report that New York has the nation’s “highest enrollment of Black students.”
And, sadly sharing, Black Star in their September 21 e-newsletter release reveals that among the national 2010 ACT scoring by race/ethnic grouping, African American students are at the bottom with an average 16.9 ACT composite score as compared to a 23.4 average for Asian/Pacific Islanders and 22.3 for Whites.
Yet new to this writer’s reporting but consistent with current Black-on-Black homicide data are the recent findings by Daniel J. Losen and Russell Skiba in their 24 page study “Suspended Education – Urban Middle Schools in Crises.”
The findings conclude that African Americans have been over-represented in middle school suspension rates since the early 70’s for K through 12th grade students in public schooling. The research demonstrates that K-12 suspensions “have at least doubled since the early ‘70’s for all non-Whites” and that suspension “has grown considerably since 1973 for African American students.”
According to the study, one reason for the focus on middle schooling is the 2003 research conducted by Robert Balfanz of John Hopkins University which “connects the dots” between youths that experience difficulty in school and those who end up in prison.
The report chronicles the educational path of over 400 individuals incarcerated in ninth grade in one major northeastern city with findings by Balfanz that youths most at risks of incarceration “were clearly identifiable by middle school, and that nearly all had ‘struggled profoundly’ in school.”
I will report more on this in later writings, particularly with the revelation that the largest increase in middle schools suspension is African American females. In Milwaukee, the suspension rate for Black girls in middle school is 52% according to their findings.
African Centered and other independent culturally specific schooling has successfully demonstrated in “process” that our children can learn if we provide them with an educational environment suitable for our historically unique style of learning. As compared to the public arena offerings, the one difference in this “process” where it has been both an observable and measurable success is that we as Black educators, Black parents and the Black community are in complete definitive control over the mechanisms for the teaching and learning of our children.
Our Black educators and particularly our Black educational leadership, using the words of Don L. Lee (now Haki R. Madhubiti) in his earlier 1973 work “From Plan to Planet,” must realize “that it is unrealistic to talk about change if you are not moving to control the instruments of change in your community.”
And contrary to popular belief in that we are engaging in this self determining and “race first” dialogue, this is not a “racial” or “racist” conversation that we are having in this article regarding our children and the need for our leadership, our community, and our culture to reclaim both control and responsibility for our children given the following pointers:
Firstly, a group (or a people) in a multicultural pluralistic society is not to give up their responsibility for grounding preparation of their youth for successful civil participatory membership and leave it completely in the hands of public schooling and then blame the public sector for the dismal performance of its children both socially and academically.
The social development, character cultivation and especially learning readiness norms and skills of our young ones are solely the responsibility of the home, the community, and of the culture into which the children are born. It is not the responsibility of diversity guidelines, public schooling, or of the public sector to prepare Black children for successful mainstream social incorporation.
As in “Old School” training, acceptable standardizing and preparation of our children for learning, appropriate behavior, competitive school performance, a demonstrative civil demeanor, and future goal visioning per the uniqueness of the respective membership in pluralistic America occurs in the home, in the community and within its reflective institutions as defined by the group’s higher order modeled exemplars. This task, if I may submit, is one outcome that is excelled in and by African Centered schooling nationwide.
Secondly– and this fact needs to be stated – Black students are suspended and expelled primarily for what this writer terms “denormed behavior,” thus underscoring the point that this is not a racial/racist argument.
The Losen/Skilba report states that the reason for the high rates of suspension particularly among Black male students is that our children “tend to misbehave more frequently in school then do White children.”
The study cites that Black students are referred more often “for disrespect, excessive noise, threats, and loitering.”
And all the way across the waters as reported September 23, 2010 by Telegraph.co.uk, Generating Genius project director Tony Sewell states that Black children “fail their exams because they do not do their homework and are disrespectful to teachers.”
The former teacher and consultant at Reading University further claims in a “Prospect Magazine” writing that “What we now see in schools is children being undermined by poor parenting, peer-group pressure, and the inability to be responsible for their own behavior.”
This writer would dare say that the Black community and Black people as a culture have not been responsible and accountable to our children collectively at least now for nearly 50 years since around 1964 when the U.S. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act thus opening the flood gates to integration.
The tide of abandonment swelled during the following decades as modeled African Americans literally left the Black community, Black institutions, Black owned and operated business and apparently abdicated in a multicultural societal climate the dutiful responsibility to ensure the proper social, psychological, mental and emotional cultivation, development and social preparedness of African American children during the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and now well into this millennium.
It has been our responsibility for letting at least one generation of African American children go completely unprotected, untrained by us and ill prepared for responsible and dignified membership in pluralistic American society where all respective groups are accountable for the development and acceptable value inculcation of their own children. The Black community has utterly failed in this regard for not taking care of our own for our own first, foremost and always.
This ”process” of which I earlier spoke takes an envisioned plan based upon our own cultural mandates founded upon historical experiences and future designs. Lee would assert that we must first take care of our children, our homes, and our community:
“Only bees make honey, just as Europeans make Europeans. You can’t get an egg from a gorilla. If we ourselves are not doing it that means somebody else is doing it for us. In New York, the Jews don’t send their children into the Black community to be educated: that is to say, a Jew knows he’s a Jew; in New Jersey, the Italians don’t send their children into the Black community to study music; Italians remain Italians.”
He would add however that we “without batting an eye” would “whisk our children off to anywhere and everybody and expect our children to remain their (natural) Black selves under the Jews, Italians, Irish, and the what-have-you.”
The author says that our children are our most valuable resource and to allow others to teach them only their values without our cultural grounding and instill in them only their sense of identity, purpose, and direction “is not only a cultural crime of the highest order, but will aid in the destruction of a people quicker than the most advanced form of 21st century technology.”
Presently, the 2010 Black-on-Black homicide rates, low graduation rates, dismal school performance, and despicable social behavior of large segments of our youth population certainly supports Lee’s prediction 27 years ago. So what will it be – another predictable announcement of an “event” or the creation of Black controlled institutionalized processes by serious culturally based community stakeholders with a proven track record to ultimately and finally fix the problem of and for our children and for our future?
Taki S. Raton is a school consultant in the African Centered instructional model. He is a writer and lecturer on the national stage detailing African World historiography, urban community issues with emphasis on the education and the social development of Black youth. For questions, presentations and consultant arrangements, he can be reached at [email protected]