Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Counseling Strategies with Black Boys and Black Men: Implications for Policy

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Counseling Strategies with Black Boys and Black Men: Implications for Policy

Article excerpt

The article discusses behavioral and sociodemographic conditions of Black males in the U.S. and presents counseling strategies, prevention programs and efforts, and recommendations for practice and policy as means of helping Black boys and Black men to minimize and transcend the challenges within U.S. culture and within themselves. In addition, recommendations for research on Black male populations are discussed.

[the] ". . . underperformance of the Black male is the most serious economic and civil rights challenge we face today."

National Urban League (2007, p. 1)

In considering counseling strategies and program efforts with Black boys and Black men, one has to be aware of cultural and lifestyle factors that affect Black males as well as the diverse intersections of race, gender, social class, and age. Some of the problems, challenges, and needs of Black males originate from their individual lifestyles and manhood identity (Franklin, 2004), while numerous others arise from sociological and historical factors such as unemployment, racism, prejudice, and societal abandonment. For example, Johnson (2006) noted: "Today, much of the discourse that pertains to African American men has tended to portray them as unintelligent, drag addicted, violent sexual predators who are incarcerated and unemployable" (p. 187). In other words, how others perceive and, therefore, react to Black males, within a given context, can create challenges for Black males.

VIEWING BLACK MALES FROM AN INTERSECTIONAL PERSPECTIVE

The challenges that Black males experience may be associated with a single factor, such as race; however, in numerous other cases, there are multiple, intersecting factors. Solorzano (1992) speaks to three of these intersecting factors as race (Black), class (poverty), and gender (male). In addition to Solorzano's three factors, this article posits age as a fourth intersecting factor, because challenges or problems of Black males are often age- or age-range specific. For example, to further explain these intersections, a large proportion of Black males are from lower-income communities, and a significant proportion of Black male issues occur between the ages of 15 and 30; for example, suicide, homicide, involvement with the criminal justice system, school dropout, gang violence, and alcohol/other drug-related problems (Day-Vines, 2007; Garibaldi, 2007; McKinnon, 2003; Toldson, 2008).

The following list presents a summary of major challenges and conditions of Black males in U.S. culture from an intersectional perspective and is based on evidenced-based surveys or research:

* The academic achievement of school-age Black males in the U.S. tends to fall below most major gender-ethnicity groups; nevertheless, Black males have outscored Black females on SAT scores in recent years (Garibaldi, 2007). Moreover, high rates of school dropouts, suspensions, expulsions, and non-promotions of Black males are concerns that demand attention (Garibaldi, 2007; Kunjufu, 2001; Toldson, 2008).

* School-age Black males tend to be overrepresented in and often misdiagnosed into special education programs (Kearns, Ford, & Linney, 2005; Porter, 1997). However, school-age Black males tend to be underrepresented in Advanced Placement or college-preparation programs (Klopfenstein, 2004).

* Suicide rates for adolescent and young-adult Black males have increased over the previous two-plus decades (DayVines, 2007; Treadwell, 2008).

* Black males have the highest rates of homicide and HIV/AIDS deaths as compared to other major male ethnic groups in the U.S. (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2006).

* Adolescent and young-adult Black males are more likely than other major U.S. ethnic male groups to be victims of police violence, racial hate-crime violence, and urban gang violence (Caldwell, Kohn-Wood, Schmeelk-Cone, Chavous, & Zimmerman, 2004). Hammond and Yung (1993) note that homicidal deaths contribute to lowered life expectancy for Black males. …

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