My son will be going into the 6th grade in September. Like me, he is Black.
I am hastily looking for the right junior high school for him to attend. A school that fits who he is. Danny is very creative. He spends most of his time taking old shoe boxes, jeans, water bottles, glue, and paint to create the most interesting messes. My son needs a school environment that’ll stimulate his inventiveness and style of learning; if not, he’ll be in deep trouble.
In The Trouble with Black Boys: The Role and Influence of Environmental and Cultural Factors on the Academic Performance of African American Males by Pedro A. Noguera, Ph. D, Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University states, “All of the most important quality of life indicators suggest that African American males are in deep trouble.”
Black men lead the nation in homicides, both as victims and perpetrators.
Black men have the fastest growing rate for suicide.
“For the last several years Black males have been contracting HIV and AIDS at a faster rate than any other segment of the population,” according to Noguera.
Black men incarceration, conviction, and arrest rates are at the top of the charts in most states.
“Even as babies, Black males have the highest probability of dying in the first year of life, and as they grow older they face the unfortunate reality of being the only group in the United States experiencing a decline in life expectancy.”
Noguera’s research points out that “in the labor market, Blacks are the least likely to be hired, and in many cities, the most likely to be unemployed.”
In my pursuit to preclude my son from these indicators, I found a private school I thought might be a good fit. So I scheduled a tour. I took the tour with a Caucasian husband and wife.
The school is beautiful. There is a full art studio. The paint from the students’ brushes smeared the tables; they look like masterpieces.
After the tour, the parents met separately with an admission counselor.
The counselor asked, “What’s Danny like? What are his weaknesses? His strengths?”
The counselor then proceeded to tell me about the admissions process. She got up from her seat and walked over to her desk. She reached for a piece of paper then handed it to me.
“The financial aid application is due in a week,” she said. “We’re strict about our financial aid deadline.”
I mused. Why did she presume I need financial aid? Was it because I was Black?
Did the Caucasian husband and wife who toured the school with me get the same talk and piece of paper?
Honestly, I was humiliated. I felt ashamed that I didn’t have the money to get my son the education he deserves.
Irrespective of what led her to believe I need financial aid, the truth is, I do.
The truth is: I need help so my son can raise above all the statistics waiting for him.