Moving past the stereotypes
African Americans males are attending college and doing well.
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2012 10:04
We are frequently subjected to news concerning the failures of the black male population.
Statistics constantly foreground jail rates, death rates, and above all else, dropout rates.
While there are plenty of external factors working against black men, success is not impossible — a fact attested to by those black males who do succeed in college.
With groups, mentors, and a wide range of other tools at their disposal, the 4 percent of black males who attend college are making a point to rise above the stereotypes.
Campus engagement, say experts, is critical. This could mean engagement in Greek life, sports, or any number of student organizations, such as the student newspaper or campus plays.
Young men commonly use Greek Life as motivation to prosper during their years in college. With a focus on brotherhood and commitment to civic duties, fraternities benefit their members by giving them a structure to build on.
Eliezer Sandifer, a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., says being “Greek” forced him to clean up his act. “I came in not with the right intentions,” said Sandifer, a criminal justice senior.
Since joining his fraternity, he has been taking his education more seriously and, he says, gained a new appreciation for lending a helping hand. “Being in a fraternity is more or less about helping the community,” he said.
Some students prosper because they are a part of a team, which is the case of football player Nathan Scruggs. The physical education freshman said the sport has “brought me better leadership skills and work ethic.”
According to Richard Townsend, an instructor in math and computer science, “If you start telling students that they’re not good enough, they’ll eventually start believing it.”
Townsend said that it is not so much their environments, but the messages they receive, that influence young black men.
Townsend grew up in a small town in Tennessee and was the first in his family to go to college. He says that college taught him how to live. Townsend urges other college-bound black males to acquire an analytical mentality. “A lot of what makes you successful is your ability to think.”
Why black men are successful in college can be disputed but resilience and a hunger to accomplish goals seem to be critical factors.