Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Supporting Black Male Students

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Supporting Black Male Students

Article excerpt

For all of the disheartening statistics that we hear about Black male underachievement at the collegiate level, still not enough research trains a spotlight on the individual narratives of Black male college students, particularly those who enroll at predominantly White institutions, who persevere despite the obstacles.

Even as many college and university administrators pledge each year to diversify their student populations, the challenges that beset Black males remain daunting and should be a growing concern for all of us who care deeply about the future of higher education.

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Several years ago, President Obama ignited a national conversation about the plight of Black males with his "My Brother's Keepers" initiative, but the longevity of those efforts remain unclear, particularly in the wake of Donald J. Trump's ascension to the White House.

Administrators who really want to understand what Black male college students are thinking and experiencing should actually spend some time talking to experts who engage with these students on a regular basis.

In this regard, Dr. Derrick Brooms, an associate professor at the University of Louisville, has made a significant contribution to the field with the recent publication of his book Being Black, Being Male on Campus: Understanding and Confronting Black Male Collegiate Experiences.

Framed through a Critical Race Theory, the study provides a needed analysis on the importance of Black Male Initiatives (BMIs) that have constantly been under attack at public institutions dating back to the 1990s.

Critics accuse these initiatives--aimed at providing Black males with a safe space to gather on campus as well as improve student retention--as being exclusionary. But in his study, Brooms demonstrates the added value that these kinds of programs bring to the university setting.

Brooms interviewed a diverse group of 40 Black males attending two separate historically White institutions with academic majors in everything from mechanical engineering to Black studies. They ranged in ages from 19 to 26. Thirty-seven of the 40 students interviewed graduated from a high school located in an urban area. The results of the study are informative.

He spent three years collecting data, conducting multiple interviews. In this regard, the book offers a layered, complex and nuanced look at how Black males attending predominantly White institutions cope with issues of isolation. …

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