Higher Education

Black Male College Student-Athletes and Race-based Stereotypes

College Basketball Player

(Photo Credit: Riverside Hawks Education)

In “Theorizing on the Stereotyping of Black Male Student-Athletes,” Hodge, Burden, Jr., Robinson, and Bennett, III (2008) explained that Black male athletes have been perceived as athletically gifted and intellectually inferior since the 19th century to the present day.  They disclosed that the purpose of their paper was to theorize about race-based stereotyping of Black male college student-athletes.  The scholars relied upon tenets of psychological critical race theory to explore racial, social, economic, cultural and psychological factors that impact Black male college student-athletes’ academic and athletic experiences.  Hodge and colleagues divulged that a substantial body of research has identified that Black males who have participated in sport have been stereotyped.  They informed the reader that race-based stereotypic beliefs have been proven to impact Black male college student-athletes’ ability to meet their full athletic potential.  Many Black male college student-athletes have been found to sabotage their own athletic performances to attempt to evade negative stereotypes about them.

Hodge and colleagues (2008) noted that stereotypic beliefs have been found to result in a number of Black males at a young age believing in their athletic prowess over their intellectual capabilities.  The scholars made clear that people can unconsciously employ stereotypic beliefs.  They cited scholarship that indicated a large proportion of students of color have low academic achievement as a result of damaging intellectual stereotypes “directed toward and perceived cognitively” by them (p. 210).  The article also provided research that revealed that students of color have a deep fear of performing in ways that will affirm deleterious intellectual stereotypes about them, and this significant fear often contributes to their low academic achievement in higher education.  The scholars contended that Black youths are often not exposed to Black intellects, so this further results in an internalization of the false notion of their athletic superiority and intellectual inferiority.  The article offered empirical evidence that Blacks aspire to be professional athletes more so than Whites, and this tends to operate as a means of reaffirming race-based stereotypes about Blacks’ athletic superiority.

Hodge et al. (2008) posited that vastly different experiences between Black and White youths in education and sports are impacted by structural inequities in school and community resources.  They state, “For Black students and athletes, their often inequitable educational and sports experiences, compared to their White peers, typifies the prevalence and magnitude of racism in the US” (p. 212).

The integration of Black male college student-athletes into predominantly White institutions’ athletic teams emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s because of a longing by these institutions to achieve significant economic revenue.  Hodge et al. (2008) asserted that Whites will “tolerate” and champion “racial advances” when they benefit from this tolerance and racial progress (p. 214).  When these Black male student-athletes arrive at these predominantly White higher education institutions, the scholars found that they are less likely to graduate than White student-athletes, and they academically underperform White student-athletes.  They demonstrated that many Black male student-athletes are placed at an academic disadvantage because of the limited resources available to prepare them for college at the high schools they attended.  The scholars argued that some Black male student-athletes devote too much attention to athletics and not enough to academics.

Conclusion

The article written by Hodge et al. (2008) evinces that higher education administrators and coaches have to engender policies and employ practices that fight against the toxic impact intellectual stereotypes have on Black male college student-athletes.  Before recruiting and admitting Black male college student-athletes, predominantly White institutions must ensure these student-athletes have the necessary preparation to graduate.  Predominantly White institutions must find ways to integrate Black male student-athletes into their academic culture, and don’t simply limit them to the fields and the courts they contribute their athletic labor.  With the dismal national graduation rates of Black male college student-athletes, more research should be devoted to helping higher education institutions develop ways to increase graduation rates for Black male college student-athletes.

Reference

Hodge, S.R., Burden Jr., J.W., Robinson, L.E., & Bennett III, R.A. (2008). Theorizing on the stereotyping of Black male student-athletes. Journal for the Study of Sports and Athletes in Education, 2(2), 203-226.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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 

Plagiarists and Frauds Posing as Intellectuals

Academic Fraud

(Photo Credit: Nanyang Technological University)

If you have had people to do your academic work for you, why are you acting like you’re a profound intellectual?  Why are you trying to belittle people now that you have your degree(s), especially when you received the grades you did because you turned in other people’s work?  If you were such a tremendous scholar, why have you or do you have to sit up and wait for someone to do your work for you?  It’s time to let you know that at many colleges and universities across the nation there are no statutes of limitations that prevent these institutions from taking your degree(s) away from you for committing academic dishonesty/academic fraud, especially for egregious cases of academic dishonesty/academic fraud.

While many people like to suggest that individuals who attend online universities are getting people to do their work for them, the truth is numerous students have and are getting people to do their work for them at traditional brick and mortar universities.  Before those who have attended and are attending traditional brick and mortar universities attack students enrolled at online institutions as plagiarists, consider the many people who attended or attend your brick and mortar institution and plagiarized, even possibly yourself.

The problem with having people to do your work for you is when you graduate you’re not able to meet the expectations of your employers that your grades and degrees suggest that you can.  Some people have allowed themselves to believe they actually have earned the credentials others have gotten for them.  If someone has ever completed work for you at school and you submitted it, you committed academic fraud; that is, you submitted work that was not your original work as your own. 

When you know you have not completed some, most or all of your work while attending college, do you not know that the knowledge, skills, and talent you lacked in college is going to come back to haunt you?  You may fool some people but you ultimately will not be able to fool your employer for long.  Your employer will eventually discover that you’re not the person you advertised yourself to be, even though you have the degree(s) in the appropriate field(s).

Okay, if you were able to cheat your way through school, shut up, close your mouth, and stop bragging about credentials you did not earn. Get your money and stop posing as the intellectual that you are not.  In fact, people find the posing as an intellectual that you do to be quite strange anyway: You present yourself in one way and they see you in a totally different way.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Need to Improve College Readiness

Black College Student

Although increasing the number of minority students in higher education is essential, we must ensure they are prepared for college when they enter.  Too many students are entering in colleges and universities across the nation unable to meet the academic challenges they face.  In efforts to ameliorate diversity in higher education, we have to devote more attention to improving the quality of education students receive before they enroll in college.  While it’s certainly vital for more minority students to enroll in college, we don’t want them to enroll without the proper preparation.  Serious efforts to boost the number of minority students in college will be purposeless if we don’t send them to college with the academic preparation essential to empowering them to stay in college.

In our education reform discourse, let us be mindful about how important it is for us to discuss the significance of college readiness for all students.  Take a look at this piece that vividly articulates the impact of college unpreparedness: Unprepared for College.

What needs to be done to help students to be better prepared for college?  What will it take to make college readiness a national priority?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Accreditation and Fake Online “Universities”


Accreditation

Diploma mills and fake online “colleges” and “universities” are increasingly rising (Noble, 1998; Noble, 2002).  A number of phony online “institutions” advertised online are unaccredited and defrauding people.  Revolutionary Paideia has reported about one of these fake “institutions,” Rochville University.  The accreditation and reaccreditation process is engaged in to protect the public’s trust in a degree.  Many online universities are legitimate accredited higher education institutions.  Two examples of legitimate accredited online higher education institutions are Walden University and Capella University.

Before you invest your time and money in obtaining a degree completely online, be sure to check with the United States Department of Education and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to ascertain if the online institution of your choice is accredited by the Department of Education and/or one of the legal accrediting bodies (which one can find out by going to the CHEA website).  On the CHEA website, one can find papers, videos, resources and etc. about accreditation and diploma mills.

Additionally, Craig Mayfield has published a valuable explanation of accreditation at http://www.onlinemba.com/guide/.  Once on the site, scroll down and you will find his work on accreditation under the section, “All About Accreditation.”  You will be pleased with the information Craig Mayfield provides about accreditation.  He even provides information about the legal accrediting agencies.  Legal accrediting agencies determine which institutions will be accredited and which will not be accredited.

It’s important for degree-seekers to understand they cannot receive a legal accredited degree by receiving all, most, or a substantial credit for “life experience.”  When you see “life experience” advertised in exchange for a degree, you need to know someone is attempting to scam you.  Don’t be fooled!  Too many people have contacted Revolutionary Paideia about being scammed by fake “universities,” so please don’t become the next victim.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Make Sure People Earn Their Degrees

Many people find ways to cut corners to obtain their degrees and graduate without the ability to meet the basic expectations of their employers.  Even many students from the nation’s leading colleges and universities find ways to cut corners to obtain their degrees.  What’s going to happen to you when you get hired and don’t have the slightest idea about how to do the job your degree implies you can do?  It’s going to result in you having more than shame—you’re going to have a useless piece of paper that you call a degree.

You cannot get people to complete all or most of your assignments, especially the most difficult ones, and expect to be ready for a job in your degree field.  If you lack the ability to perform beyond basic reading and writing tasks, you will inevitably be exposed.  A time is going to arrive when your weaknesses in reading and writing is going to cause your performance in the workplace to be less than satisfactory.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with seeking assistance with things you don’t understand.  Smart people understand that when they need help to seek it.  This does not mean, however, that you should have to receive assistance with all major assignments.  If you’re a person truly fit to be an undergraduate or graduate student, you should be able to execute the majority of the tasks assigned to you in your degree program.

If people have to complete, edit, and/or revise all of the work you do for school, are you really deserving of receiving a degree?  Is it fair to potential employers for you to waste their time when you know you have not obtained the essential skills they are looking for when they hire someone with the degree you have or are pursuing?  If you have ever submitted work that someone has completed for you, then you have not earned your degree.  If you have ever purchased a paper from an online website and turned in that paper, then you have not earned your degree.

Colleges and universities have academic honesty policies for real reasons.  Academic honesty policies help colleges and universities to ensure that they are awarding degrees that are worth more than the paper they are printed on.  If you submit work that is you not your own, then you have evinced an unwillingness to do the work necessary to learn what your professors desired of you to satisfactorily complete the course requirements.  If you have completed work that is not completely your own, then you have committed academic fraud.  For those who commit academic fraud, your degree is in jeopardy of not being awarded to you or being taken away from you.

The American workplace needs to be populated with individuals who are truly ready for the challenging demands of the 21st century.  If you have to cheat to obtain your degree, then you’re not ready for the 21st century workplace.  The reality is college is not for everyone.

For those of us who worked hard and earned our degrees, we need to report academic fraud when we see it.  People who commit academic fraud and pretend that they are ready to enter the workforce in their degree field do us all a great disservice.  Too many important positions are being filled by people who are not prepared to execute the duties of these positions.  Many of these positions are filled by those lacking the competency to perform even the most basic duties of the positions, thus putting the lives of innocent people in danger.

Many individuals who cheated their way through undergraduate and graduate study are too arrogant to seek and accept help from people who they work with to help them to overcome their lack of understanding of critical aspects of their job.

Why waste a significant amount of time in school by letting people do your work and graduate with no knowledge to perform the duties of jobs in your degree field?

Ensuring academic honesty is a matter of public safety.

We should not allow people who lack the competency to perform jobs, especially in positions where lives are at stake, to be eligible to be hired for those jobs.  For example, we don’t want people who have committed academic fraud going into the healthcare industry where they can endanger the lives of so many people.  Therefore, if you know people who are committing academic fraud and/or have committed academic fraud and they are going into the healthcare industry or another area where they could risk the lives of numerous Americans, you need to report them.  By reporting them, you could not only help to save the lives of many Americans, you may just save your own life.

Let’s take a stand against those who cheat while in college because we will have to pay severely when these people get positions in fields where they can do us all great harm.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

NCORE’s Significance to American Higher Education

The National Conference for Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) was founded in 1988 in response to increased racist incidents in American higher education. The Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies in Norman, Oklahoma launched NCORE in 1988. Since 1988, NCORE has been one of the leading national conferences on reconnoitering and analyzing issues of race, ethnicity, gender, civil rights, and sexual orientation in higher education in America. The mission of NCORE is to ameliorate racial and ethnic relations, help colleges and universities to engender more inclusive and welcoming milieus, and expand opportunities for historically underrepresented groups in higher education. This year’s conference will be held in San Francisco, California on May 31, 2011 – June 4, 2011. The conference registration fee is $700 and the conference student registration fee is $425. To register for this conference, go here: http://www.ncore.ou.edu/register.html. To learn more about NCORE, go here: www.ncore.ou.edu.

I greatly encourage all students, especially graduate students, to check with your departments and outside of your departments for funding to go to this conference. If you have a research agenda committed to improving issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, diversity, civil rights, and etc., you need to become actively involved in NCORE and participate in the national conference each year. For those who would like to learn more about issues of race and ethnicity in higher education, you should become an active participant in NCORE. Those who are underrepresented in higher education should definitely become actively involved with NCORE. This national conference was founded to enhance the quality of the educational experience and campus climate for underrepresented groups in higher education. NCORE needs your presence, involvement, and support to become an even more powerful force for good in higher education.

Make the decision today to become actively involved in NCORE and to attend this year’s conference in San Francisco. On Facebook, “like” NCORE’s new Facebook page by going here: www.facebook.com/NCOREconference. By clicking the “like” button on NCORE’s Facebook page, you can stay updated on the latest developments and news pertaining to NCORE.

Although significant progress has been made since the great influx of racial and ethnic minorities who enrolled in higher education institutions across the nation during the 1960s (Kaplan & Lee, 2007), racism is still highly prevalent on higher education campuses across the country. You need to be associated with NCORE so that you can learn about and discover subtle issues of race and ethnicity that are not as overt as some of the more popular national issues of race and ethnicity are.

Through your association with NCORE, you can learn about the gaps in the extant peer-reviewed literature, offering you an opportunity to make a significant contribution to the field. For graduate students, finding a gap in the existing research is one of the foremost highlights of one’s educational experience. Just think about how great of an opportunity you will have to discover a gap or gaps in the existing published research by engaging with scholars from across the nation and world who participate in NCORE.

If you are serious about improving the educational experiences and outcomes of underrepresented students in higher education, then you can make a strong step toward achieving this feat by becoming active in NCORE today!

Reference

Kaplin, W.A., & Lee, B.A. (2007). The law of higher education (4th edition). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Unfair and Exploitative NCAA Rules

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the governing body that oversees intercollegiate athletics, has created such a large number of complicated rules that even schools with some of the top lawyers in the nation cannot understand all of them completely. Until you have read and studied the very thick book of rules that the NCAA has established, then don’t be so quick to judge administrators, student-athletes, athletic department tutors and coaches. Yes, things like plagiarism, falsifying records, violent behavior, and etc. are violations of any institution’s policies without the NCAA telling them that they are. However, the NCAA has instituted many rules that need to be eliminated.

The NCAA will not allow players to speak to agents about their potential futures in playing professional sports. Now, please explain to me what’s the harm in allowing a student-athlete to speak to an agent about a future in playing professional sports? Is the NCAA really concerned about the futures of student-athletes? No! We allow all other students to have lawyers and agents while they are attending college. Why is it that the NCAA has decided to not give student-athletes equal treatment? It’s all about keeping student-athletes in the colleges and universities they attend to keep making those institutions more money. That’s why! By virtue of being a student-athlete, it’s conspicuous that he or she would love to have an opportunity to participate in sports on a professional level. Why would the NCAA try to hinder student-athletes from best positioning themselves for futures in professional athletic competition? By forbidding them from speaking to agents, they prevent student-athletes from engaging in strategic and effective planning about their future. This is unfair and exploitative.

If young student-athletes want to enter into professional sports immediately after graduating high school, they should be able to do this in every sport. We should not force them to have to attend college for any period of time before they are able to participate in sports on a professional level. For student-athletes who are not well-suited for college, we are using college as a punishment for them. College should be for those students who have genuine interests and needs for it. It should not be forced on any person wishing to participate in professional athletics. I understand that there are some good reasons for having students to attend college before they participate in professional athletics, but, again, college should not be forced on anyone.

What’s economically best for many student-athletes coming out of high school is to be able to make money immediately. If colleges would give student-athletes stipends, then they would be able to take care of their immediate economic needs and the economic needs of their families. Many Black male student-athletes come from such poor economic backgrounds that they need to make money immediately. Their families struggle with just surviving. While they and their families are struggling to survive, you have people with such elitist views that think it’s so wrong to give student-athletes stipends in exchange for their participation in college athletics and all that comes with their participation in college athletics.

In short, the NCAA needs to reduce all burdensome rules that prevent student-athletes from giving themselves the best possible future. I really encourage legal challenges to many of the NCAA’s rules to take place. We have to become increasingly concerned about how the NCAA exploits student-athletes. It is possible for us to make significant efforts to dramatically reduce the exploitation of student-athletes by using the legal system as a vehicle to accomplish this.

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

Online Education, Students of Color, and Access to Higher Education


Many people of color simply have circumstances that do not allow them to attend traditional brick and mortar higher education institutions. Fortunately, higher education has a strong online presence. Most traditional colleges and universities now offer some type of training and/or undergraduate and graduate degrees online. For example, at the University of Arkansas (www.uark.edu), one can select from a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs (even doctoral degree programs). For students looking to attend a historically Black college or university, Albany State University (www.asurams.edu) offers undergraduate and graduate degrees online. Another traditional brick and mortar university that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees online is Troy University (www.troy.edu). For people of color looking to pursue higher education and need to benefit from the flexibility of not having to attend a college or university in person, I highly recommend you consider attending a college or university online. You may be thinking that you could attend college if only you could have the flexibility of not having to attend classes physically. This may be the thought of some people who think that their current jobs would interfere with them attending college.

In a post-affirmative action society, many students of color should really consider online education as a means of receiving training in higher education. You may not have the funds to live on campus, so it may benefit you to attend the college or university you plan to attend online. If you want to participate in student activities on campus, you can always drive to the physical campus—if the institution is near you.

One of the strongest reasons why I think online education can be one of the best ways to improve access to higher education is it reduces costs that accompany physically attending a college or university. For example, if you are attending college online, then you don’t have to worry about parking costs, increased fuel costs, having transportation to and from school, room and board expenses, and etc. For many people of color, these significant savings can make the difference in their ability to attend college.

Some acts of racism can be avoided by attending classes online. If you attend a predominantly White institution online, then you could avoid campus issues that involve race in undesirable ways.

For those interested in attending completely online universities that do not have challenging admission standards, then you might want to consider Walden University (www.waldenu.edu) and Argosy University (www.argosy.edu). Those two online universities are accredited by the same accreditors who accredit an elite university like the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Walden University and Argosy University are two quality online universities that some students of color who have not performed well coming out of high school or even undergrad should consider.

I am not trying to promote online education as the panacea to problems that students of color have with gaining increased access to higher education. Online education, however, is something we should consider when thinking about how to improve access to higher education for students of color.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison