Black Male Student-Athletes

Raise Him Up: A Single Mother’s Guide to Raising a Successful Black Man: A Review

Raise Him Up Moore

(Photo Credit: BookLook Bloggers)

In Raise Him Up: A Single Mother’s Guide to Raising a Successful Black Man (2013), Stephanie Perry Moore offers the reader some personal insights about the struggles single black women face rearing successful black boys who develop into men.  Extensive research has empirically proven that black male students academically lag behind all of their peers throughout every level of education.  The narratives of single black women who rear black boys receive limited focus in the professional literature.  This book, therefore, provides a needed account of the challenges and problems encountered by single black women rearing black boys, especially their efforts to rear successful black boys who evolve into successful black men.  Moore contends that using spiritual instruction and guidance available in the bible is essential to producing successful black boys and men.  The author relies heavily on the Book of Acts to support her suggestions and arguments.  She gives the reader prayers they can use in their work with their black male child.  One chapter is devoted to rearing a successful black male student-athlete.

While the book offers important practical challenges and problems encountered by single black mothers rearing black boys, Moore made a poor strategic choice of employing the Book of Acts as her primary source for biblical support for the things she suggested and asserted.  The biblical support is simply forced throughout the work.  The chapter on rearing a successful black male student-athlete appears tacked on and lacks adequate coverage.  The chapter on rearing a successful black male student-athlete would have been better as a separate, standalone project.

Overall, the book leaves much more to be desired.  This book is a classic case of a good idea not executed well.  During the review process of this book, someone should have made a compelling case to Moore to buttress her biblical support for her arguments and advice by choosing more relevant scriptures to enhance her arguments and advice.  Although there are some nice qualities about the book, I cannot highly recommend the book because of its many failures.

BookLook Bloggers gave me a complimentary copy of the book to compose a professional review of it.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Examining Self-perceptions and Behaviors of Successful Black Male College Student-Athletes

Black Male College Student Athletes(Photo Credit: Black Entertainment Television)

In “Diamonds in the Rough: Examining a Case of Successful Black Male Student Athletes in College Sport,” Bimper, Jr., Harrison, Jr. and Clark (2012) investigated the self-perceptions and behaviors that enabled 7 Black male student-athletes to experience academic and athletic success.  A case study was used as the research method, and Critical Race Theory (CRT) was employed as the theoretical framework.  From the findings in the study, the researchers concluded that helping Black male college student-athletes to evolve positive identities as student-athletes and the ability to experience rewarding academic achievement are crucial to their academic success.  The findings of this study revolved around three core themes: complex identities, community, and liberation.

Bimper, Jr. et al. (2012) express that Black male student-athletes are being recruited to predominantly White institutions (PWIs) for their athletic abilities, but many of these student-athletes are experiencing tremendous difficulty with meeting their academic challenges.  They note that recent graduation reports promulgated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) about 70 bowl-bound NCAA Division I football teams and NCAA Division I tournament-bound basketball teams reveal that the graduation rate of Black male student-athletes is significantly lower than their White counterparts.  In conducting this study, the authors explain that they want to improve knowledge about the distinctive experiences of Black male student-athletes who have been both academically and athletically successful in high-profile revenue-generations sports at PWIs of higher education.  The researchers also disclose that they concentrate their research on “the role in which race unfolds in the experiences and identity of Black male student athletes in this collegiate setting” (p. 108-109).  They assert that great differences in academic achievement between Black male student-athletes and their White counterparts indicate that issues associated with culture, identity, and social relationships could be important to the academic achievement of student-athletes.

Moreover, Bimper, Jr. et al. (2012) explain how pernicious racial stereotypes lead to decreases in Black male college student-athletes’ academic achievement.  Although all student-athletes have to combat “the dumb jock” stereotype, this stereotype becomes even more problematic for Black male student-athletes, considering they academically underperform all of their peers.  The researchers inform the reader that Black male student-athletes have to fight serious pressure to construct a strong athletic identity before they are given the proper space to develop a constructive academic identity.  The authors discussed how Black male student-athletes who participate in high-profile sports experience a level of alienation far greater than that of the general Black student population.

The lead researcher in this study is a Black male and former student-athlete who participated in multiple revenue-generating college sports.  The lead researcher also has experience working with diverse student-athletes.  To ensure trustworthiness, the lead researcher maintained “transparent memos and notes throughout the data collection and analysis, member checked data transcriptions, and collaborated in a peer review process to check biases and discern the accuracy of findings” (Bimper, Jr., et al., 2012, p. 112).

The participants in this study are 7 Black male student-athletes who attend a southwestern PWI on a full athletic scholarship.  The classification of these student-athletes range from sophomore to graduate student: 1 sophomore, 3 juniors, 2 seniors, and 1 graduate student.  The graduate student finished his undergraduate degree in 3 years and had completed work toward a master’s degree when the study was conducted.  Only one of the participants came from a two-parent home.  All of these Black male student-athletes came from low-income homes, and they all attended public K-12 schools prior to enrolling in college.  A purposeful sampling strategy was employed to recruit them for this study.  Specifically, criterion sampling was used to recruit them.  Bimper, Jr. and colleagues (2012) make clear that the reason why Black male college student-athletes at PWIs were sought after is these institutions have proved in the professional literature to be sites where Black male student-athletes experience the lowest academic achievement.  To be selected to participate in this study, the student-athlete would have to have made valuable athletic contributions to the team and be first or second on the depth chart.  Additionally, the student-athlete had to have at least a 3.0 GPA or received some academic award by the institution, NCAA or the athletic department.

The main method of data collection was semi-structured individual and focus group interviews.  The initial questions asked during the individual and focus group interviews are as follows: “(a) ‘Will you describe your experience as a student athlete at your university?’ (b) ‘How have your experiences as a student athlete influenced your perception of self?’ (c) ‘What do you think contributes to your success as a student athlete?’” (Bimper, Jr., 2012, p. 114).

As mentioned previously, three dominant themes emerged from the data collected: complex identities, community and liberation.  The dominant finding that pertains to the complex identities theme is the student-athletes contended that their identity as Black male student-athletes played an instrumental role in their lives, and they provided a counter-narrative to the prevalent thought of them being only athletes.  All participants were proud to identify themselves as being Black and were conscious of their peers and instructors’ perceptions of their racial identity.  Most of the student-athletes posited that toxic stereotypes about being Black and being an athlete are concatenated.  All participants articulated that Black male student-athletes have to confront challenges associated with their athletic and racial identity.

The community theme refers to the participants communicating their ability to “engage a supportive community” that is critical to their academic and athletic success.  One of the participants explained that too many of his teammates attempt to perform well academically on their own, but they struggle mightily.  For this participant, he did not find the language of the recruiters that he would be coming to a “family” environment to be true.  These student-athletes contend that it was their ability to find a supportive community within the institution and use the available resources offered by the institution and athletic department, especially the academic center in the athletic department, that greatly contributed to their academic success.  Some participants felt that the athletic department created a culture where they expected their student-athletes to graduate, but others believed that there was not a true commitment to their degree completion.  All, save one, participants were linked with tutors to work with outside of the athletic department.  The student-athletes found that networking was essential to their academic success, especially networking with Black professors on campus.  In their opinion, one of the fundamental reasons why many Black male student-athletes struggle academically is they fail to network with others on campus, especially Black professors.  These student-athletes communicated that they were able to overcome the pre-college expectations for them to come to college to simply try to become professional athletes.

Moreover, the theme of liberation that surfaced throughout the study refers to the participants becoming “self-empowered through education” (Bimper, Jr., 2012, p. 122).  The participants believe that it’s more important for them to be successful academically than athletically.  It is there hope that they can change perceptions about Black male student-athletes’ intellect by excelling academically.  They were deeply bothered about the negative perceptions on campus about their intellectual capabilities as student-athletes, especially as Black male student-athletes.

One disappointing aspect of this study is it does not offer any understanding of the academic preparation the student-athletes had prior to coming to college.  This study did not provide any understanding about where the participants’ strong self-determination emerged, and what helped them to not fall prey to simply coming to college to try to become professional athletes.  While this study has great potential for helping scholars to understand how to ameliorate the academic achievement of Black male student-athletes at PWIs, its failure to give insights into the pre-college academic and social preparation of the participants leaves many issues and questions unresolved.  Although it does explain that all of the student-athletes come from low-income homes, the reader is left without any understanding of how well the students performed academically in their K-12 experience.  It would have been helpful to learn more about their pre-college social lives and experiences.  Simply learning that the student-athletes come from low-income homes is not sufficient enough to provide essential background information about the pre-college factors that facilitate and militate against their college academic achievement.

The Black male student-athletes provided valuable insights about how important networking, especially with Black professors, was to their academic success.  It would have been helpful to learn specifically what those Black professors provided for them.  Future research should devote critical attention to how networking can aid in the academic success of Black male student-athletes and what can be done to mitigate barriers to Black male student-athletes being able to engage in networking.  Scholars need to investigate why many Black male student-athletes are not currently engaging in networking on-campus and off-campus.  The study offers promising insights about how academic support centers in athletic departments should adopt a culturally relevant pedagogical framework.  The study does not, however, give specific recommendations for accomplishing this.  Future research should provide specific recommendations for establishing a culturally relevant pedagogical framework in academic support centers in athletic departments, and examine the specific academic and social outcomes that result from implementing a culturally relevant pedagogical framework in these academic support centers in athletic departments.

Reference

Bimper, Jr. A.Y., Harrison, Jr., L., & Clark, L. (2012). Diamonds in the rough: Examining a case of successful Black male student athletes in college sport. Journal of Black Psychology, 39(2), 107-130.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison 

The Postmodern Plantation System: The NCAA and Black Male Student-Athletes

Slavery is not over. Colleges and universities collectively make billions of dollars off of the athletic prowess of Black male student-athletes, but these institutions will not even give them adequate academic support in return. Many people will say that they receive free tuition and room and board and will think that they should be happy with this, considering most undergraduates don’t have this advantage. I would just like to inform people who think like this that most student-athletes don’t receive scholarships, free tuition, and room and board—only a select few receive free tuition and room and board. Even if all student-athletes were to magically be given free tuition and room and board, this would still represent a classic Marxian uneven exchange. Think about it—they provide these institutions with billions of dollars and these institutions give them free tuition and room and board in return—simply inequitable. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the governing body that oversees intercollegiate athletics, contends that paying student-athletes would be a horrible thing to do. However, the NCAA and higher education institutions do not think that it’s horrible to pay Teaching Assistants. Why not simply make graduate students teach for free as a part of their degree requirements? Exactly! They know that graduate students are too sophisticated and too politically organized to allow themselves to be exploited in such a way.

Just as those Teaching Assistants receive free tuition and a monthly stipend in return for their service, institutions should give all student-athletes monthly stipends in return for their service. Many athletic departments require student-athletes to do community service projects, visit sick children in hospitals, and other charitable things, but they are not paid a dime for this service—the athletic departments simply get to benefit from the charity of these student-athletes.

Billy Hawkins, Kinesiology professor at the University of Georgia, has written a book, The New Plantation: Black Athletes, College Sports, and Predominantly NCAA Institutions (2010), that posits that predominantly White colleges and universities are functioning very much like the colonial plantations did during slavery. For Hawkins, Black male student-athletes are slaves at these predominantly White institutions. He does an excellent job of evincing how these institutions exploit Black male student-athletes academically and physically.

I do, however, disagree with Hawkins that these institutions are functioning very much like colonial plantations during slavery. In Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991), Fredric Jameson asserts that we are currently residing in late capitalism, a stage of capitalism that makes it much more the global dominant and much more of a deceptively attractive economic system than it was during slavery in America. Therefore, the attempt Hawkins makes to evince how Black male student-athletes are similar to slaves during slavery in America ultimately fails because his central thesis needs to be informed by a serious understanding of late capitalism (postmodernism).

My notion of colleges and universities being postmodern plantations for Black male student-athletes is informed carefully by Fredric Jameson’s characterization of postmodernism (late capitalism). During slavery in America, Black people knew without a doubt that they were slaves. Black male student-athletes do not know that they are slaves today. Many are given scholarships that pay their tuition and room and board, but this uneven exchange exploits them in academic, economic, and physical ways that are much more dishonest than during the colonial plantation system. The focus that Hawkins devotes to making connections between the treatment of slaves during slavery to the treatment of Black male student-athletes in our postmodern period are important, but he misses how much more sophisticated colleges and universities have developed the postmodern plantation.

Predominantly White colleges and universities have made most Black student-athletes think that they are happy because they get to play the sports they enjoy, get free tuition and housing, and have a chance to compete professionally. During slavery, most slaves were not happy just receiving the bare minimums. Free tuition and room and board are the bare minimums today.

The NCAA is a cartel. This despicable governing body is only interested in helping colleges and universities to keep getting richer so that the executive leadership of the NCAA can keep getting richer. The NCAA is the force that allows this postmodern plantation system to persist and that makes the postmodern plantation system increasingly more dominant. The refusal of the NCAA to allow student-athletes to be given stipends in exchange for participating in intercollegiate athletic sports is a deliberate attempt to exploit not only Black male student-athletes but all student-athletes.

The least that these predominantly White colleges and universities can do is give student-athletes enough money in the form of stipends to pay for their own private tutors, tutors outside of the athletic department.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Real Crisis in Education: Black Male Academic Underachievement

Unfortunately, the prevailing professional literature has evinced that Black male students underperform all of their peers throughout the educational pipeline. What has largely been absent in all of this talk about education reform is ideas and initiatives targeted at ameliorating the educational experiences and outcomes of Black male students throughout the educational pipeline. Even more alarming is the fact that Black male student-athletes academically underperform all students. Although there have been some Black people who have been passionate about the improvement of Black male students’ academic performances throughout the educational pipeline, we need many more Black people to zealously fight for the improvement of these students’ academic achievement. For Black males, nothing can be more vital than working to ensure that schools are providing them with the best education possible.

In my scholarly and empirical work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I have passionately advocated for and studied innovative ways to improve the academic achievement of Black male students throughout the educational pipeline. My work has, however, primarily focused on improving Black male college student-athletes. One of the reasons I have focused so heavily on Black male student-athletes is I find that by identifying ways to enhance the academic performances of these students will help to provide us with ways that we can improve the general Black male student population. Although we enjoy the great athletic prowess of these Black male student-athletes that we watch on the fields and courts they perform on, we have to think about how these college and universities are exploiting them in ways that have many affinities with how slaves were treated in early America.

At the Pre-K – 12 levels, we are going to have to embrace culturally relevant pedagogy and practices to ensure that Black male students can improve their academic achievement. Many teachers are going to need to explore better ways to reach these students, especially when they see that the ways in which they have attempted to reach them are not working. Many White teachers are going to have to see Black male students as students who can be successful academically and who are worth more than their entertainment and athletic value.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I have had the unfortunate opportunity to see people who find my research interest in college Black male student-athletes to be something that they can take for their own research interest to make themselves sound good. Additionally, I have found someone who has actually stolen one of my ideas about college Black male student-athletes and has received grant funding for the idea. The stealing of the idea and receiving grant funding for it does not anger me, but what does anger me is people not having a true commitment to the improvement of the educational experiences and outcomes of Black male student-athletes.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, you have an Associate Athletic Director, Sean Frazier, who is in charge of diversity in the athletic department and his idea of diversity means having a “Soul Food Night.” Are you kidding me? This is the same guy who claims to have written an article on mentoring Black male college student-athletes, but I have to wonder just how informed this article is when one’s idea of diversity in the athletic department is having a “Soul Food Night.” “The Soul Food Night” would be fine if there were other substantive diversity efforts being engaged in. The scary thing about this reality is this man is second in charge in the athletic department. Sean Frazier is a Black man and former college student-athlete at the University of Alabama.

Sean Frazier and others are simply exploiting Black college male student-athletes. You would think that a Black man placed second in charge at a predominantly White elite public research university would make things better for Black male student-athletes, but he is simply interested in keeping his six figure salary and just spitting out meaningless rhetoric about his serious interest in the academic achievement of Black male student-athletes. I have had the unfortunate opportunity to work with this man in the athletic department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and have found him to be a man who is only interested in himself. This is not the type of Black leadership that Black male student-athletes need.

I am writing a scholarly book that uncovers how colleges and universities are currently exploiting Black male student-athletes. I contend that Black male student-athletes should receive modest stipends for the athletic labor they offer to the colleges and universities they are situated in. These predominantly White colleges and universities are receiving so much money from the athletic labor of Black male student-athletes, but they are certainly receiving an uneven exchange for their labor because they are not receiving modest stipends for their work. Uninformed individuals think that all student-athletes are on scholarship. This could not be further from the truth. Most student-athletes are not on scholarship. Most student-athletes have to struggle to purchase the necessary things that they need. Yes, many of them receive free tuition and room and board, but not all of them. Make sure you have all the facts about these student-athletes before you try to unfairly criticize them.

The great problems that Black male college student-athletes experience need greater attention in the professional literature. We cannot turn their academic problems over to people who simply want to exploit them. When you engage in discussions about education reform, be sure to include Black male students in your discussions. When politicians are talking about education reform, be sure to ask them what they propose to ameliorate the academic achievement of Black male students throughout the educational pipeline.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Introducing Me and My Blog’s Purpose

Hello, All:

My name is Antonio Maurice Daniels, Ph.D. student and Research Associate in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My primary research interests are African-American male college student-athletes, African-American male students throughout the educational pipeline, and ecological sustainability in higher and postsecondary education.

For my first blog, I wanted to start with explaining the purpose of my blog. The purpose of my blog is to serve as an extension of my purpose in life: to unsettle, unnerve, and unhouse. This blog will be a venue for sharing information and ideas. If you are looking for discussions about serious issues, this will certainly be a place where you will be quite satisfied. I look forward to engaging with you on a constellation of diverse topics.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison