Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

The Brotherhood: Empowering Adolescent African-American Males toward Excellence

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

The Brotherhood: Empowering Adolescent African-American Males toward Excellence

Article excerpt

A review of the literature reveals that African-American males do not achieve at the same academic levels as their White counterparts. This article reports the effectiveness of a school-based male mentoring program established by a professional school counselor in an urban high school that formed a relationship of support for male students enhancing academic achievement. The program incorporates the principles of the ASCA National Model[R], empowerment theory, and Nguzo Saba. Results indicate that participation in a mentoring program can improve student academic achievement and foster personal and social growth and aspirations of success.

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The Black male in America often experiences adolescence differently than his White counterpart. A review of the literature suggests that racism, socioeconomic disadvantages, and oppression have an effect on the development of young Black males (Wyatt, 2000). To compound the problem, a large body of research indicates that inner-city young Black males are more susceptible to criminal behavior, substance abuse, poor academic progress, and early sexual behavior (Curry & Spergel, 1992; Gill, 1992; Gray-Ray & Ray, 1990; Mincy, 1994; Ogbu & Wilson, 1990; Wyatt). Statistics from the Schott Educational Inequity Index (2006) indicate that nationally, 47% of African-American males graduated from high school in 2006, but only 37% from Chicago Public Schools in the same year. Allensworth (2005) reported on the Chicago Public Schools graduation rate by indicating that "among boys, only 39 percent of African Americans graduated by age 19 compared to 51 percent of Latinos, 58 percent of whites and 76 percent of Asians" (p. 3).

These data support the need for a male mentoring program such as the Brotherhood male mentoring program, created by the author, a professional school counselor. The purpose of the program is to close the achievement gap as a disproportionate amount of adolescent African-American males are not fully engaging in education as the catalyst for their future success. The Brotherhood program in the school in this study (referred to in this article as "the Brotherhood") is an after-school counseling group that assists with students' developmental challenges. The Brotherhood male mentoring program is significant because it is an outgrowth of research on Afrocentric male mentoring programs (Wyatt, 2000), and it helps promote collaboration, leadership, and student advocacy.

LITERATURE REVIEW

"Since manhood has been reported historically as a complex task for Black males, it is imperative that their manhood is fostered at an early age by positive socializing agents and institutions" (Wyatt, 2000, p. 24). There is a significant body of literature that exists regarding school-based male mentoring initiatives and rites of passage initiatives that address the developmental needs of adolescent African-American males.

Day-Vines and Day-Hairston (2005) provided depressing statistics regarding the educational attainment and mortality rates of African-American males. According to the Education Trust (as cited in Day-Vines & Day-Hairston), African-American males account for 34% of suspensions as a result of severe disciplinary policies that foster a zero tolerance rule. Also, by the end of high school, this population's academic achievement is equal to eighth-grade Whites. "The Justice Policy Institute has indicated that 52% of African American males who departed prematurely from school had prison records by their 30s" (Day-Vines & Day-Hairston, p. 237). Day-Vines and Day-Hairston stated that this explains the cultural dissonance between mainstream American and African-American male subcultures. The authors suggested that mentoring programs created by professional school counselors can be instrumental in improving the academic and social achievement of African-American males.

Individual counseling and small-group counseling represent effective media for promoting healthy prosocial behaviors among urban African American male adolescents. …

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