Black Male Education

Perceptions of Black Male Student-Athletes on Predominantly White Campuses

Black Athlete

(Photo Credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

In “‘Athleticated’ Versus Educated: A Qualitative Investigation of Campus Perceptions, Recruiting and African American Male Student-Athletes,” C. Keith Harrison (2008) conducted a study to explore students’ narratives about the college recruitment of high-profile Black male high school student-athletes.  Harrison had participants to watch a scene about college athletic recruiting from The Program (1994).  The research questions posed in this study are as follows: (1) Are the recruiting visit perceptions by students about student-athletes based on stereotypes and athlete biases?  (2) How will students respond to images that represent the intercollegiate athletic ritual(s) to sign major recruits in revenue sports (i.e. football and/or basketball)?  (3)  What type of discussion and dialogue about academics and athletics does the qualitative data (narratives) reveal?

A mixed-method research design was used.  202 students at a highly selective Midwestern university participated in this study.  73.6% of the participants are White, 13.4% Asian, and 9% Black, 3% Hispanic, and 1% identified as “Other.”  Visual elicitation was employed to stimulate a discourse between the interviewer and the interviewees.  A survey questionnaire was used.  Hierarchical content analysis and inductive analysis were employed to analyze open-ended responses to questions posed on the survey questionnaire given to each participant after viewing only one scene from The Program.  Participants’ responses emerge from viewing this one scene.

The findings of the study indicated that both Black and White students identified Black male student-athletes in the film to be more athletic or “athleticated” than educated.  Both Black and White students viewed the Black male student-athletes on the film as sex objects.  For Black participants, two dominant themes were found: “athleticated” and “sex object.”  For White participants, four major themes were determined: “athleticated,” “sex object,” “media stereotypes,” and “unrealistic depiction.”  The most prominent themes for both Blacks and Whites were “athleticated” and “sex object.”

Harrison (2008) found important gaps in the professional literature about their being limited empirical investigations of the recruiting inventory of the student-athlete and how the general student body views the student-athlete’s recruitment process.  Since this study extended knowledge about the two aforementioned gaps in the literature, it helps to give some understanding of them.

Harrison (2008) does not offer the reader an understanding of whether this was each participant’s first time viewing the film, which is crucial to understanding potential influences on their responses to questions posed.  One significant weakness of the study is the scholar did not allow the participants to view the entire film, which impacts their ability to properly contextualize the scene the study engaged.  The study does not offer specific details about the responses Hispanic, Asian, and “Other” participants divulged.

Future research needs to resolve how the views of the recruitment of Black male student-athletes of the general student population impact their educational experiences at predominantly white higher education institutions.  Additionally, future research should be devoted to understanding how the perceptions of the recruitment of Black male student-athletes impact their interactions with faculty at predominantly white higher education institutions.  Finally, future research needs to replicate this study and allow students to watch the entire film and then ask them questions about the particular scene used by this study.

Reference

Harrison, C.K. (2008). “Athleticated” versus educated: A qualitative investigation of campus perceptions, recruiting and African American male student-athletes. Challenge: A Journal of Research on African American Men, 14(1), 39-60.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Form A Black Parents Association

Increased and improved parental involvement is unquestionably a crucial dimension of true education reform. As I continue to think about solutions to remedying the significant academic underachievement of Black males throughout the educational pipeline, I cannot help but think about how vital their parents are to improving their academic achievement. In every county in America, there needs to be the creation of a Black Parents Association. What do I mean by Black Parents Association? I’m referring to Black parents federate in every county to meet often about local and national issues pertaining to education, to discuss strategies for improving the academic achievement of their children, to work together to help their children with homework problems, to share resources with one another, to organize with one another to protest injustices in their local schools, and etc.

Now, there is certainly not anything wrong with this newly formed organization of Black parents joining and working with non-Black parents. Since Black male students academically underperform all students throughout the educational pipeline, Black parents are going to have to unite first to tackle this problem. After all, it’s their children who are experiencing this academic achievement problem. I think that the formation of a group like this in every county in the nation has great potential to energize Black parents and result in dramatic improvements in the academic achievement of Black students. When educators, school board members, administrators, and legislators begin to see Black parents more organized, more involved, and more committed to ameliorating the academic achievement of their children, schools will have to become more responsive to the needs of Black students.

Just like many Blacks organized to protest the Jena 6 injustice because many Blacks saw this situation as a crisis, we also have to see Black education as in crisis. Whenever you have Black male students throughout every level of the educational pipeline, including higher education, academically underperforming all students this is a real crisis. By creating a Black Parents Association, Black parents begin to become change agents and facilitators in the change we want to see in our children’s academic achievement. Our people have had a history of organizing to engender change to respond to crises. We have a crisis in Black education today and we need to respond to it.

Social media, newspapers, local publications, television, radio, word of mouth, churches, schools, local stores, and etc. can be used as vehicles for promulgating interest meetings about the construction of a local Black Parents Association. I would recommend that this new organization be guided and governed by democratic principles. Make the organization a formal organization.

Black parents, you have the power to increase wealth in the Black community by making stronger investments in your children’s education. We have to tackle the problems our children are having with their studies to bring in greater wealth into our community. We have to face it—improved academic achievement is central to ushering in more wealth into our community. Our economic and social conditions will not be meaningfully improved until we do a better job of buttressing our children’s education.

Black parents unite!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

You Gotta Love Me to Improve Me: The Cry of Black Male Students

The extant professional literature has extensively evinced that Black male students academically underperform all students throughout the educational pipeline (See Jerlando F.L. Jackson’s “Toward Administrative Diversity: An Analysis of the African-American Male Educational Pipeline”). Limited research exists on what impact the level of love teachers have for the profession has on Black male students’ learning outcomes. People will ask how are you going to measure love for the profession. One of the important ways to measure a teacher’s love for the profession is to ask him or her how important of a problem is it to him or her that Black male students academically underperform all students throughout the educational pipeline. Next, one can ask the teacher what is he or she doing to ameliorate this problem. I think that gaining answers from teachers on those two questions are important steps to gaining a qualitative understanding of where teachers stand on the problem of Black male academic underachievement.

Given that America has been a historically racist nation and continues to be a racist nation, I contend that it is vital to engage White teachers with queries that seek to understand how they feel about the quandary of Black male academic underachievement. In no way am I trying to call all White teachers racists. It’s just a reality that most students are educated by White teachers in America. The existing scholarly literature needs to benefit from qualitative research that examines the perceptions of White teachers about the problem of Black male academic underachievement. We need to understand what percentage of them really views this as a serious problem. We also need to know why White teachers think this problem exists. These questions need to be asked to White teachers because we need to uncover the level of investment they have in Black male students throughout the educational pipeline.

It is very possible that one of the foremost contributing factors to Black male academic underachievement could be many White teachers’ lack of a strong investment in Black male academic success. As we look to further identify the most significant factors that contribute to Black male academic underachievement, we cannot be afraid to ask questions that might be offensive to people. If people get offended when you are solemnly exploring questions aimed at buttressing Black male academic achievement, then that’s just tough for them. It seems that there are not enough people getting offended about Black males academically lagging behind all students throughout the educational pipeline. That’s what we need to get offended about! Therefore, if you get offended when I start asking you whether or not you really love Black male students, then you will just have to be offended.

I am not going to let Black teachers off the hook either. If you really love the members of your community and are looking to uplift your community, then what are you doing to advance Black male education? What are you doing to support positive educational experiences and outcomes for Black males? What are you doing special for them to meet their special realities? I don’t want to hear this crap about having to treat them the same as everyone else. If you have that kind of mindset, then you really don’t care about them because they are not just like everyone else—they are the most academically underperforming students throughout every grade level.

I encourage you to do whatever you can to help to ameliorate Black male academic achievement throughout the educational pipeline. We can keep more Black men off the streets, out of gangs, out of prisons, and off of drugs when we take the initiative to dedicate ourselves more to ensuring that they have positive educational experiences and outcomes. I will continue to posit that the American education system is failing until I see a substantial improvement in Black male academic achievement throughout the educational pipeline. Black boys and men are worth more than the gargantuan profits they can produce for you on football fields and basketball courts.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison