Pedagogy of Self-Development: The Role the Black Church Can Have on African American Students

Article excerpt

Historically, the Black Church has been an institutional stronghold in the Black community and has thereby sustained a cultural ethos that has enabled African Americans to combat racial prejudice and hostility for generations. Therefore, this article will unearth Yosso's notion of alternative capital that students of color have at their disposal and the Black church's role in its nourishment. Alas, educators and administrators who are charged with educating African American students have, in many cases, been negligent in their efforts to recognize such contrarian capital. This has been mainly due to the fact that schools are undergirded by precepts of implicit and explicit racial biases. The authors will attempt to add to the notion of pedagogy of self-development as we elucidate that such a cogent standard to traditional capital is doing increasing harm and contributing to the on-going academic decline of many African American students in U. S. schools.

Keywords: leadership, diversity, Black Church, social capital, multiculturalism

The slogan black is beautiful ... is not an expression of reverse racial chauvinism; rather it registers the fact that black is a tremendous spiritual condition, one of the greatest challenges anyone alive can face. (Glaude, 2007, p. 13)

Today, African American students seem to be the recipients of disproportionate disciplinary procedures and educational practices that are ushering them out of the entire educational process (Day-Vines & Day-Hairston, 2005; Ferguson, 2001; Peterson, 2003; Skiba & Peterson, 1999). African American students in the United States make-up 16.9% of the student population, yet account for 33.4% of all school suspensions (Day- Vines & Day-Hairston, 2005). Even for the many African American students who manage to not find themselves subjected to impartial disciplinary practices, tiiey are frequently misinstracted, miscategorized, or underserved (Beachum, Dentith, McCray, & Boyle, 2008; Jackson, 2008; Ferguson, 2001; Obiakor, 2007; Obiakor, Harris-Obiakor, Garza-Nelson, & Randall, 2005). Young Black males, for example, represent 9% of the student population; however they make up 20% of all students enrolled in special education classes. An unfortunate corollary is that they only represent 4% of those in the gifted and talented programs (Thomas & Stevenson, 2009). This unfortunate reality calls attention to the drastic need of colleges, educators, and school leaders, as well as community institutions and organizations to critically review and intervene in these issues in order to eliminate the deprived conditions many African American students are facing in the educational system. Such intervention represents a holistic perspective as to what is needed in order to address the dire circumstances in which many African American students find themselves. More specifically, the Black Church is an appropriate institution within this holistic intervention to help improve some of the said conditions many African American students regularly confront in their matriculation through the educational system. The opening quote by Glaude (2007) reveals the continued need to focus on the self-efficacy of African American students in order to prepare them for the potential racial and class-based hostility tiiey may encounter within their schools (Dantley, 2009; Feagin & Feagin, 1978; Foster, 2009; Perry, 2003; Tatum, 2007).

As such, racial and class-based hostility are part of the calculus of the continued lack of success many African American students are experiencing. Additionally, the aforementioned discrepancy in academic achievement can be partiaUy addressed with an increasing emphasis on African American students' self-efficacy. These authors assert that the Black Church has had a significant role in African American's finding solace in the midst of racial discrimination that is endemic throughout this country's history (Quarles, 1987). …