Education: The Biggest Predictor of Success
In Washington, D.C., about 30 minutes from where our offices are located, the police chief recently declared a “crime emergency” because of a spike in crime during the month of July. “We’ve had a 95 percent increase in juveniles arrested for robberies. Young Black males, in groups of five to six, ages 13 to 15, are displaying handguns and beating their victims,” said D.C. police chief Charles Ramsey in a recent interview with The Washington Post. “We’re dealing with adolescents who have no remorse, no regrets. And they are well armed,” Ramsey continued.
Unfortunately, this scenario is playing out in many urban communities across the country. The state of Black males is so dire that we’ve covered at least a half-dozen conferences over the past few months focused on the “crisis.” But convening forums is the easy part; the hard part is coming up with solutions.
Diverse correspondent Jamal Watson covered the New York forum, “Winning Strategies for Young Black Men,” last month, where everyone from scholar John McWhorter to actor/author Hill Harper weighed in on how to get Black males back on track. And I, along with Diverse editors, attended a similar forum in Washington a few days later. At that conference, scholars, activists, students, even Bill Cosby, discussed possible solutions and possible reasons why young Black males are, in disproportionate numbers, in trouble.
“Juveniles, many of whom have been robbed themselves — ripped off by parents and schools and communities that couldn’t care less about them — have become hardened and increasingly violent,” wrote The Post’s Courtland Milloy in a recent column.
Oakland Mayor-elect Ron Dellums echoed similar sentiments at the forum in Washington, saying that every institution in the Black community by and large has failed Black men: Churches, schools and families. “We are not listening, we are not hearing them,” said Dellums at the event, sponsored by The Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The Kaiser Foundation, which has conducted research on the state of Black males in conjunction with The Post’s ongoing series on the subject, found that the biggest predictor of success for Black men is whether they stay in school. That conclusion may come as no surprise to those of you in the higher education community, but it’s good to hear it again, and maybe that can help focus the discussion.
I didn’t leave much room to discuss our annual journalism edition, which is full of very good articles. Pearl Stewart looks at the current state of student newspapers at Black colleges, updating a piece she reported for us in 2000; Lydia Lum introduces us to Yen Do, who founded a Vietnamese newspaper in California in 1978, allowing his community to keep up with the news in their homeland as well as in the United States. Senior editor Christina Asquith reports on Al Jazeera’s entry into to the U.S. media market. And lastly, a number of our writers profile a diverse group of journalists who discuss how they got started in the industry and offer advice to aspiring journalists.
Hilary Hurd Anyaso
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