New Black Expectations

On February 26, 2009, Dr. John Y. Odom spoke at the University of Wisconsin-Madison at the “2nd Annual Black Men’s Initiative Forum 2010.”  He gave the men (and some women) of all races some great insights.  He challenged them to graduate from college as soon as they can so that they can go into the “real world” and make a difference.  His call for Black males to graduate and go into their communities and make the difference is such an important message.

Black men need to understand that we have to seize on a critical moment that we have to evince and illuminate our greatness.  Black men have to understand that we have to do a better job of helping one another to increase, improve, and further develop our skills, talents, and knowledge.  Imagine a day when Black men in America and globally are truly united with one another.  This will be a day when we can work to dismantle the damaging stereotypes and stigmas that plague our progress.  The struggle for Black male progress will not be fully realized until we have stronger support from Black females and higher expectations from them for Black males.

Too many Black women want a Black man who is a “thug.”  Ironically, these same Black women want Black men who are educated, able to provide them with the finer phenomena in life, and who will be an excellent father for their children.  This ignorance emanating from many Black females has to end if they want their Black men to be able to be the empowered leaders they so criticallly need them to be.  Far too frequently do I hear Black women talking about Black men are nothing but “dogs,” “pimps,” “drug dealers,” “players,” and etc.  My simple response to the name calling engaged in by many Black women is you all made them that way—for the most part.  When you all are constantly giving away your bodies so easily to them—this will turn them into dogs, pimps, and players.  What else did you expect?

The way that Black men and women need to correct the problems that they both face is to set higher expectations for themselves.  For example, there are people who are in college at some of the finest schools in the nation—like University of Wisconsin-Madison—who think that they have to make going to college and being successful “cool” by doing phenomena that have caused those who are not in college or who are not successful to be where they are today—like getting drunk everyday, smoking weed everyday, busting slack, wearing clothes that you know does not make you look like you are striving for success, intentionally talking in an ignorant way just to demonstrate how “hood” you are or how much of a thug you are, and etc.

A new day needs to begin where Black people acknowledge that our Black foremothers and forefathers died for us to have the right to be free.  In this right to be free came the right to be free from low expectations.  Today, I make a solemn plea to you—Black people—to demand higher expectations of yourselves, and to fight against any barriers, people, and institutions that would try to prevent you from being the greatest person you can be.  Being truly successful will demand that you not simply do traditional and popular phenomena.  You just might have to upset some people, but it’s all for your betterment and the betterment of the American and global community.  Until you give up doing phenomena that are always popular, you will always be a slave!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison


  1. OMG. I googled “low expectations in the black community” and pulled up this website and this is exactly what I was looking for. I recently went to lunch with some new acquaintances and as always the conversation turned towards our Black men. We discussed what we were looking for and our expectations in a husband. When my turn came around, I listed a few basic qualities that every woman wants (trust, loving, intelligent, ect.) then I added that he has to have a college degree. Immediately, the other women targeted me as if I had asked for Jesus himself. Let me just say that I’m not one of those women with all kinds of crazy requirement like height, weight, etc. Pysicalities aren’t that important to me. I’m more attracted to a person’s mind and his conversation. Someone who can provide me with new insights. Anyway, they labeled me as wanting “too much” by saying that he has to have a degree. The only married ladies there were married to men without degrees. So, they were highly offended. I never degraded men without degrees just simply stated that I prefer someone with certain level of education. My father and uncles are wonderful men without degrees so how can I say that only men with degrees are good men. But, while they were outraged that I said that my future husband has to have a degree, I was also outraged that these women have such low expectations from Black men. I’m not saying that every woman should demand that their man have a college degree, but my GOD, more of us need to start being more vocal in saying that men without college degrees are indeed underachievers and do not reflect as well upon our community as those who are out there putting forth the effort to learn and grow. Do you have to have a college degree to be successful? Absolutely not, but I can count only one or two people who have become very successful (250K or more) without a college degree. It’s a pipe dream that we keep selling to our kids that it’s okay to underachieve and not advance in their job and still be able to take care of a family. I work in the education sector and I will say what EVERY administrator, teacher, etc. know. The US educational system reflects poorly mostly because of underachievement in the Black community. The numbers are staggering and frightening for our Black boys. When are we going to free ourselves from low expectations and stop saying that as long as our Black boys aren’t locked up and selling drugs then they’re doing okay. It’s disheartening to see our community fail at such a time when we are afforded EVERY opportunity there is. I don’t want to hear how the “white man” is still holding us back. Give it up. There were MEN in the 60s that went to college when it was ten times as hard as it is now. I’m a single mom of a 13 year old. Two years ago, I was losing him. He stop making honor roll, being disrespectful, etc. I started to think, you know this is too hard. At least he’s still in school and isn’t misbehaving so badly that he’s getting kicked out. At least he’s barely passing. I stopped and evaluated my expectations and realized that I had placed myself on the path of giving up on my son. The second we stop expecting anything but the best we lose our kids. I came up with a plan and stopped his allowance, took away the video games, stop yelling at him when he talked back. I changed the environment in my home from yelling to get things done to showing him the consequences of his decision. He loves video games so I used that as a motivation. I stopped allowance so he couldn’t buy any. The only way he could get money was to make the honor roll. After all, going to school is his “job”. The next six weeks he made honor roll, the same for the next six week and so on. I praised him at every step of the way and made sure my praise was more important to him than the money he received. Praises to God, my son has changed completely. He has never been more motivated to succeed. Making honor roll again boosted his self esteem and he started to feel good at something. He’s researching on his own the college he wants to attend and asking question about college programs. I mean, he’s actually PLANNING his future. I stopped raising my voice at him and he stop raising his voice and being disrespectful to me. We actually sit down and talk things through and I treat him like a YOUNG MAN and not a LITTLE BOY because that’s what I’m preparing him for. We have to analyze why we let our Black men get by with doing so little or nothing at all. Professional Black women who are taking care of bills while their husbands, live in boyfriends, etc. make little income and what they make is eaten up by child support. Do we think that we don’t deserve better? The Black community will never progress until we stop just “making do” and start “getting ahead”. This is a very competitive world we live in. This recession has hit Black men the hardest because they are the least educated of all groups. So, to all the Black women out there, the author of this article is right in saying that we made our men that way. Stop being so narrow minded in your thinking and prepare our young boys for a new future that will be much harder than it is today. A high school diploma won’t cut it anymore. I have a Masters degree, went back and learned Spanish after two years of self study and a summer abroad. Now, I’m working on a second masters degree, an MBA so I can have a more diverse skill set. So, I’m showing my son that learning NEVER stops and just making it through high school isn’t good enough in our home. The world isn’t interested in excuses anymore. The White community no longer feels empathy, guilt, etc. over the plight of the Black community because they have cracked the doors for us to make it. So, going around and complaining about how the cards are stacked against you is irrelevent. No one cares anymore about that. This is America and you make the best of what you have and climb your way out of it. You’re bigger than where you came from. You don’t have to think and act like everyone else just so you can feel a part of the group. Sometimes, the group isn’t always right. Trust your instincts and NEVER give up on yourself nor your children. We owe this to those who have fought the REAL battles of slavery and civil rights.

    1. @Sharon: Wow! You have written one of the best responses that I have received since I’ve been blogging. I am deeply thankful for your response and your kind words. I am glad that my article was able to be useful for you. Google is such a great vehicle that we have. You should not feel bad because you want a man with a degree because when you say you want a man with with a degree, you are really asking for more than that–you are asking for a certain set of successful values that accompany the mindset that led him to getting that degree. Keep demanding the best! Congrats on your academic success and with how you have had a significantly positive influence on your son’s life. Again, thanks for reading and your excellent response! –Antonio Maurice Daniels

    2. Hi there hopefully with your education, you may also want to look into opening a business, if that is of interest to you. We need to also become business owners, to gain more freedom. I do hope you achieve all your goals and keep on keeping on.

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