Academic journal article Journal of College Counseling

African American and Latino Men's Recommendations for an Improved Campus Environment

Academic journal article Journal of College Counseling

African American and Latino Men's Recommendations for an Improved Campus Environment

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to share findings from semistructured qualitative interviews with 9 African American and 12 Latino men about their ideas on how university personnel could better support their needs. Stressing the need for African American men to learn self-reliance to counter microaggressions, African American participants offered recommendations to students rather than personnel. Latino participants discussed the need for personnel to provide critical information about college resources.

Keywords: African Americans, Latinos, microaggressions


Despite increased representation in the United States, African American and Latino young men struggle in many important areas of their lives. For the past 4 decades, they have maintained the highest school dropout and incarceration rates of all ethnic groups in the United States (Reyes & Nakagawa, 2010), and although most youth transition front adolescence to adulthood to lead healthy, sustainable lives, "some young people, a disproportionate number of whom are Black and Latino males, are trapped in a cycle of prison, poverty, and disadvantage" (Reyes & Nakagawa, 2010, p. 37). With respect to college completion, the number of African American and Latino men attaining a bachelor's degree is much lower than the number of White and Asian and Pacific Islander men (Aud et al., 2012). It is known that degree attainment contributes to greater economic stability (U.S. Department of Labor, 2015), which is positively associated with mental health (Eaton & Muntaner, 1999). Thus, diminished educational attainment has significant consequences for African American and Latino men, who already contend with gendered racism in the workplace, housing, and many other important areas of their lives (Edley & Ruiz de Velasco, 2010).

The academic achievement of African American and Latino men is an important issue for counselors in educational settings. As outlined by Lewis, Arnold, House, and Toporek (2003), advocacy-oriented counselors "recognize the impact of social, political, economic, and cultural factors on human development" (p. 1) and, in the case of African American and Latino men, understand both the challenges they face in their pursuit of higher education and the importance of degree completion for men's later quality of life. Unfortunately, research has found that as Latino men advance in college, they become less likely to rely on others for support (Gloria, Castellanos, Scull, & Villegas, 2009). Munoz (1986) found that Latino students reported higher levels of personal stress than did their White peers when they sought out support for academic and/ or personal needs for fear that they were confirming others' perceptions that they were not college material. Therefore, more research is needed to explore the barriers faced by African American and Latino college men with accessing critical campus resources, such as mental health support, as well as the important role counselors can play in improving men's overall educational experiences.

Conceptual Framework

This study was greatly informed by critical race theory (CRT), a paradigm based in critical legal studies (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001; Ladson-Billings, 1998) that emerged in the 1970s to critique the treatment of race and racism in American legal ideology and practice. Critical legal studies was rooted in the assumption that legal doctrine within the United States, having developed amid the backdrop of the nation's historically oppressive treatment of people of color, could not function as a race-neutral system. Rather, the American legal system, much like other major institutions, was an extension of the racist underpinnings of the country and thereby inadvertently served to maintain the status quo (i.e., the mistreatment of people of color). Within education, CRT has been adopted as a conceptual framework that places a historical and cultural lens on educational policies and policy making and thereby encourages an analysis of racial exclusion and other forms of discrimination against students (Ladson-Billings, 1998; Villalpando, 2004). …

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