Culture and Context: The Plight of Black Male Students

By Malveaux, Julianne | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, April 20, 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Culture and Context: The Plight of Black Male Students


Malveaux, Julianne, Diverse Issues in Higher Education


Brian, a Washington, D.C., high school junior, is one of my heroes. He is struggling to maintain his near-B average, while engaging in extracurricular activities and working about 20 hours a week. While he aspires to work in psychology and attend a four-year college, financial and academic obstacles may restrict his academic career to a community college. We agonized over his options a few weeks ago when I looked at his transcript and wondered why he couldn't pump his 2.8 GPA up to a 3.0. He acknowledged that he could do better, but only if he worked fewer hours or spent less time in his activities.

Why not work less? Brian lives with an aunt and works at a fast-food restaurant to provide extras, like tutoring, for one of his younger sisters. Social services might step in if his aunt asked for additional help, but Brian says that the time involved to accomplish that would cause his sister to fall further behind with her studies than she is now. So, at nearly 17, he shoulders a burden that many grown men would shrug off, and he does it in the name of love and responsibility.

Brian was puzzled and troubled after reading the New York Times article in March that said that young Black men are in bad shape. He didn't ask me why the plight of young Black men is headline worthy but policy-proof. Instead, he asked if I thought the article told "the whole story."

Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson, who writes about the impact of culture on marginalized young Black men, doesn't think so. But Patterson's explanation that young Black men are too busy being cool to be scholars--lacks context. He doesn't factor young men like Brian, young men who deserve to be described as heroes, into the drive-by analysis that he calls public policy.

If the "Cool Pose" has any context, it is the context of making do in a society that has no room for you. It does not mean that Black students think studying is "acting White." It is, instead, the insurance that comes from acting as if a culture that has rejected you doesn't even matter. The same young brothers who scoff at scholarship when they hang out with their "posse" are likely to go home and study furtively, hoping for a ticket out of their stark reality.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Culture and Context: The Plight of Black Male Students
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?