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Ike Awgu


Black Children Need Better Parents, Not Schools

Posted: 03/09/2014 12:16 am

In the final week of Black History Month, President Obama announced the creation of "My Brothers Keeper", a program targeted at improving the lives of young African American men. The well-meaning initiative reminded me of a similar program in Canada, so-called Africentric schools. Purportedly, such schools in Toronto have been a success, according at least to the Toronto Star and other, less high profile proponents. Nonetheless, what precisely is being celebrated? And has the program truly succeeded in any meaningful measure?

The Toronto Star, in a glowing and no doubt well-meaning article about the schools, describes its students as 'thriving.' This is of course wonderful and likely to be true. The relevant question is however, whether or not, but for the afro-centric school, those same students would not be "thriving."

There are other tremendously valid questions of course (even if such schools were shown to enable a set of students to excel, that would not necessarily mean they had sufficient merit) but setting that more complex point aside, consider the manner in which success of such an initiative may one day be measured; the problem is, one would expect higher test scores and improved behaviour from students who attend such a school, as the program (and this is important) will self-select parents who care more about their children and are engaged in their education.

Parents are required to enroll their children in the program, which means it screens automatically for parents who are involved in the lives of their children, have done research on the program and are more likely to be intimately involved in their children's education. In other words, precisely the criteria required to ensure your child is not dropping out of high school, underachieving or being "pushed out", prior to graduation.

It will be tremendously difficult to ascertain what academic success among students is a result of the program and what portion of the students would have excelled anyway. Conjecture on this point for many minds continues forever, but I am unfortunately burdened by what I know and cannot un-learn -- which is that the conjecture is unnecessary -- specialized schools always self select the parents most interested in their children's success.

So the quantitative results, although not yet in, will not be disappointing and will show improvement over average grades/ test scores at the very least (or best). They will not, however, plug the hole in the black community that gave rise to the need for such schools in the first place. Just as aboriginal schools (which already exist) have not and will not plug the hole that too many of its young people (they are our young people too) are tumbling through.

Facts are inconvenient things -- and sociopathic in the extent to which they are unconcerned with the "feelings" of those who stand in opposition to them. The fact is, as confirmed in countless studies, that the collapse of the black family within a segment of the black community (most concentrated amongst descendants of slaves) is the primary reason so many of our children fall through the cracks of society, to be broken against the hard, unbending steel of racism, prejudice, failure and depression.

We must all, depending on our fortune and fortitude, combat these evils to one degree or another. But those of us without a father in their lives, a father who lives in the same home as we do, will find those evils doubly strong, doubly determined, and doubly difficult to overcome. So long as an enormous portion of black children -- in the interest of speaking plainly here, children from the Caribbean and elsewhere who have survived the legacy of slavery -- are being raised by single mothers, there will be no filling of the hole leading to their fall. No cushion the state can provide, in Canada or the United States, large or soft enough to prevent many from breaking.

The real solution lies in telling our children the truth -- that the best way to ensure their children succeed is to ensure they are raised by two parents in a committed relationship -- in other words, two people who are married. Single parenthood has been a disaster for our community -- indeed, as statistics bare out, for all communities in which it is prevalent. One person cannot do it all; no parent can be a father and a mother. The very notion that a single mother can be a mother and a father (a vacuous idea I hear often) is as obtuse as it is demeaning to the role of father in the lives of their children. So long as so many black children are being raised in these homes, no amount of 'specialty schools' will save them.

Parents are the first teachers any children meet, their home the first classroom. Let's take a long, hard and honest look at that 'school' before blaming teachers, society, prattling on about specialty ones.


Loading Slideshow...
  • February 1

    In this May 3, 1963 file photo,a 17-year-old civil rights demonstrator, defying an anti-parade ordinance of Birmingham, Ala., is attacked by a police dog. Bill Hudson, an Associated Press photographer whose searing images of the civil rights era documented police brutality and galvanized the public, died Thursday, June 24, 2010 in Jacksonville, Fla. He was 77.

  • February 2

    1968 Olympic Games, Mexico City, Mexico, Men's 200 Metres Final, USA gold medalist Tommie Smith (C) and bronze medalist John Carlos give the black power salute as an anti-racial protest as they stand on the podium with Australian silver medallist Peter Norman

  • February 3

    The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X waiting for an unspecified press conference on March 26, 1964.

  • February 4

    Teenager Elizabeth Eckford (L) w. snarling white parents following as she is turned away fr. entering Central High School by Arkansas National Guardsmen under orders fr. Gov. Orval Faubus.

  • February 5

    Left to right: George E.C. Hayes, Thurgood Marshall, and James M. Nabrit following Supreme Court decision declaring segregation unconstitutional

  • February 6

    Rosa Parks, right, is kissed by Coretta Scott King, as she received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-violent Peace Prize in Atlanta, Jan. 14, 1980. Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus nearly 25 years ago, is the first woman to win the award. (AP Photo)

  • February 7

    18th November 1968: Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (1900 - 2002) goes backstage to meet the Supremes, Engelbert Humperdinck, Frankie Howerd and Petula Clark after a Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium. The show is in aid of the Variety Artistes' Benevolent Fund. (Photo by Douglas Miller/Keystone/Getty Images)

  • February 8

    US pop star and entertainer Michael Jackson performs with Sammy Davis Junior August 14, 1988 in Monaco. (Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images)

  • February 9

    Betty Shabazz at her husband, Malcolm X's funeral in Hartsdale, New York in 1965.

  • February 10

    In this May 25, 1965, file photo, heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali stands over fallen challenger Sonny Liston, after dropping Liston with a short hard right to the jaw in Lewiston, Maine. (AP Photo/John Rooney, File)

  • February 11

    TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 27: Whitney Houston sings the National Anthem before a game with the New York Giants taking on the Buffalo Bills prior to Super Bowl XXV at Tampa Stadium on January 27, 1991 in Tampa, Florida. The Giants won 20-19. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

  • February 12

    In this January 1, 1945 photo, Lena Horne visits with the Tuskegee Airmen.

  • February 13

    In this March 1, 1964, photo, heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, right, is shown with black muslim leader Malcolm X outside the Trans-Lux Newsreel Theater in New York, after viewing the screening of a film about Ali's title fight with Sonny Liston. (AP Photo/File)

  • February 14

    Georgia native son, singer Ray Charles, rocks to the ovation he received from a joint session of the Georgia Legislature in Atlanta, March 7, 1979. The Assembly made his version of the song "Georgia On My Mind" the official state song after he sang it to the session. (AP Photo/Charles Kelly)

  • February 15

    John H. Johnson, publisher of Jet and Ebony magazines, left, and actor Bill Cosby, center, join the Rev. Jesse Jackson at a benefit reception for Operation PUSH, in Chicago, Ill., on April 1, 1982. (AP Photo)

  • February 16

    American singer Michael Jackson (1958 - 2009) is granted a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, 20th November 1984.

  • February 17

    Day of Pilgrimage protest begins on December 5, 1955, with black Montgomery citizens walking to work, part of their boycott of buses in the wake of the Rosa Parks incident. (Photo by Grey Villet//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

  • February 18

    In this Aug. 1922 file photo, Marcus Garvey is shown in a military uniform as the "Provisional President of Africa" during a parade on the opening day of the annual Convention of the Negro Peoples of the World at Lenox Avenue in Harlem, New York City. A century ago, Garvey helped spark movements from African nationalist independence to American civil rights to self-sufficiency in black commerce. Jamaican students in every grade from kindergarten through high school have began studying the teachings of the 1920-era black nationalist leader in a new mandatory civics program in schools across this predominantly black country of 2.8 million people. (AP Photo/File)

  • February 19

    Los Angeles Lakers' Wilt Chamberlain, left, stands beside a backboard and hoop trophy that was presented to him after he became the all-time leading rebounder in NBA history, in Los Angeles, Jan. 31, 1972. (AP Photo)

  • February 20

    Broadway was a snowstorm canyon as proud Manhattanites feted returned U.S. Olympic stars with a fleecy ticker tape parade in New York on Sept. 3, 1936. The fellow with the broad grin in the foreground is Jesse Owens, who won three gold medals and helped other athletes win another for the U.S. (AP Photo)

  • February 21

    Black Nationalist ldr. Malcolm X at podium during rally w. others in bkgrd. Malcolm X was later assassinated on February 21, 1965, by members of the Nation of Islam.

  • February 22

    At the funeral for slain Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers, his wife, Myrlie Evers (second right), comforts their son, Darryl Kenyatta Evers, while daughter Reena Denise Evers (center, in white dress) wipes her own tears, Jackson, Mississippi, June 15, 1963.

  • February 23

    1958: A Caucasian policeman speaks with African-American protesters during a sit-in at Brown's Basement Luncheonette, Oklahoma.

  • February 24

    American actress Hattie McDaniel (1895 - 1952) with her Academy Award of Merit for Outstanding Achievement, circa 1945. McDaniel won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Mammy in 'Gone With The Wind', making her the first African-American to win an Academy Award.

  • February 25

    The First Colored Senator and Representatives, in the 41st and 42nd Congress of the US. Top standing left to right: Robert C. De Large, M.C. of S. Carolina; and Jefferson H. Long, M.C. of Georgia. Seated, left to right: U.S. Senator H.R. Revels of Mississippi; Benj. S. Turner, M.C. of Alabama; Josiah T. Walls, M.C. of Florida; Joseph H. Rainy, M.C. of S. Carolina; and R. Brown Elliot, M.C. of S. Carolina. Lithograph by Currier and Ives, 1872.

  • February 26

    Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton (1942 - 1989) (center) smiles as he raises his fist from a podium at the Revolutionary People's Party Constitutional Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, early September 1970.

  • February 27

    Attendees at the Million Man March raise their hands in fists and peace/victory signs October 16, 1995 in Washington, DC. The purpose of the march was to galvanize men to respect themselves and others spiritually, morally, mentally, socially, politically and economically.

  • February 28

    Anti-apartheid leader and African National Congress (ANC) member Nelson Mandela (C, L) and his wife Winnie raise fists upon Mandela's release from Victor Verster prison on February 11, 1990 in Paarl. AFP PHOTO ALEXANDER JOE


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