- More Than 4.5 Million African Americans Now Hold a Four-Year College Degree
- African Americans Show Solid Gains at All Academic Degree Levels
- A Harvest of Good News on African Americans in Higher Education
Yesterday I listened to a local political talk show focused upon Atlanta in which the term of Mayor Shirley Franklin was being reviewed as it ends. During the discussion one journalist noted "Atlanta had 165 murders a few years ago this year it is 75".
The point that hit me was that the reference point for the improvement was a point that was "very, very unacceptable" and the point that was used to show progress was merely "unacceptable". If we were to venture over to one of the "safer" neighboring counties the talk of 75 murders within its borders would be proof of a massive crime spree that must be challenge.
The point of me diverting very briefly away from the subject of education and toward homicide is to make the case about "normalization" and what we are given to accept as improvement. Too often we are caught up in what appears to be movement forward without apply the necessary qualification. Such a qualification would lead to the question of "Though this is forward movement - Is it enough for us to obtain our goals?" or "How might we have done more had we been more effective?"
On the subject of education I do not have a "goal post on wheels" where my goal is to criticize and thus never render praise. Instead from my recent reports about the problem with Black male unemployment the analysis shows that while it is great to see the unemployment rate for "degreed Black males" at 7.8% as compared to the 16.3% for the entire group - the total number of "degreed Black males" was insufficiently small to make a serious dent in the overall employment situation for the group. This is the source of my unwillingness to applaud and assume that the job is anywhere close to being complete.
The Enumerated Vehicle For Progression Of Black Educational Opportunities
Here is the paragraph from the "Journal Of Blacks In High Education" that prompted me to write this message:
Don’t be discouraged by recent setbacks in measures to advance African-American higher education. There has been important progress on many fronts.
Occasionally, readers complain that much of the content of The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education is punctuated with doom and gloom about the future of black opportunities and progress in higher education. News such as the retreat of race-sensitive admissions, outreach programs for black students, minority orientation programs geared toward blacks, and race-based scholarship awards is discouraging.
Declining financial aid coupled with budget cuts and large tuition increases at many colleges and universities because of the current economic crisis is also depressing black opportunities in higher education.
The indictment is encapsulated by what does not appear on the list.
They list the key to improving the number of Black people in college as:
- Race Sensitive (Affirmative Action) Based Admissions Programs
- Outreach Programs for Black Students
- Minority Orientation Programs
- Race-Based Scholarships
My challenge is to ask "Where are the clearly articulated demand upon the Public School establishment from which the overwhelming majority of Black students come from"? In many cases this is one resource that is under the control of the expanded community from which these Black students matriculate.
Of the four bullet points - a more effective and more encompassing public school experience that is fortified by the works of the broader community would compliment or negate the need for "race sensitive admissions", "outreach programs" and "orientation" with the purposes of keeping the students focused on their main priorities in school as they make the transition.
It is my opinion that the JBHE are inclined to make note of the value to the Black community of having more of our people attending a graduation ceremony at the end of their college experience yet take this to the university establishment to have them affirm this value via the university's acts which prove that Black people are valued.
Missing from this charge is the consciousness demanded of our own people about the advantages of these degrees as it relates to the policies APPLIED UPON OUR OWN ACTIONS as a community and the resulting priorities that flow as a result.
The question must be asked - "Is the fact that 4.6 million Blacks over the age of 25 hold degrees (thus representing 19.6% of the population subset) sufficient to address the need for Professional Services provisions within our communities over the lifetime of their careers?"
The intent of this question is to force a change in consciousness. The driver for more African-Americans with degrees is because THEY ARE NEEDED WITHIN OUR COMMUNITY. There are clear advantages to having obtained such a status. (7.8% unemployment vs 30%+ for those without a H.S. diploma). This reorientation of the consciousness would have the community assert for force to achieve the "directed outcomes" that have been enumerated.
The change in bias would be to shift from the demands that the university community 'do something' to improve the diversity that is upon their campuses by making some special note to the special circumstances that is cast upon all Black over to a more self-directed program that is coordinated from within the Black community.
Having fully accepted the benefits of the educated state toward our interests - all of the "human resource management" efforts are aligned behind this advancement of our permanent interests.
This is the more empowering, conscious and confident stance than the other.
Notice again the picture of the "smiling Black people" above having completed the 'rites of passage'. They are smiling about something of great value.