What Would It Take?

Image by Brian Talbot via Flickr

Three things and a question.

  • While camping with a group of parents, some of whom had adopted trans-racially, I learned that some folks were starting “bridge the gap” advocacy groups to see what they could do, in partnership with teachers, to help put a dent in the achievement gap that still exists for so many students of color in America. The parents who belonged to such a group were practically evangelizing about it, and the parents who didn’t looked as if they might go home and start one.
  • In talking with my friends who are mothers of black male adolescents, they (in particular) seem almost desperate for a way to counter the anti-intellectual, “I’ll just play great basketball” stance that seems like the culturally ingrained “go to” aspiration for their sons.
  • When talking with a representative of a college admissions office about their special campus visitation program for multicultural students recently, I found myself thinking, “What I want is 120+ YouTube videos, each 2 minutes long, and each one featuring a different African-American young man who has “made it” – in a way he defines for himself.” The only criteria being that it can’t be a way that is solely defined by athletics.

Would it help? What would help? I know there are access programs and summer camps and what all, but clearly whatever we’re doing is not enough. In my experience, a student’s ability to imagine themselves into their as-yet-unknowable future is a critical ingredient in their successfully heading into productive citizenry as an adult. I know that the tangible barriers to academic achievement are only too real for many students. But I think this internal, invisible wall is just as real, and no less critical. Who are the thought leaders in this work, and how can we help them? Where is the network working on this?

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Posted on October 19, 2008, in big picture. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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