April V. Taylor
While a myriad of studies clearly show that education is one of the most useful tools in eliminating racialized social and economic disparities, the marginalization and mistreatment experienced by black men is not capable of being completely eliminated by educational achievement. Michael Brown was a college bound recent high school graduate, Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a Harvard University professor, and Eric Holder is the U.S. Attorney General, but education was not enough to shield them from negative racial experiences. A recent Huffington Post article pointed out five critical life skills that black boys must learn other than the core curriculum in order to successfully navigate a society in which they are twice more likely to be unemployed than white males and six times more likely to be incarcerated simply because of their skin color.
Common Core is America’s latest policy attempt at trying to educate all students in a way that equally provides them with the necessary math and English skills to be prepared both for college and the global workforce. Here are five skills that parents can consider an Addendum to Common Core, as laid out by Valerie Wilson, that will help specifically prepare black boys to rise above the stereotypes and mistreatment they face within American society:
“1. Absorb all the positive reinforcement, self-confidence and self-worth your young, impressionable mind can hold.
This builds immunity against negative images, lies and stereotypes that conspire to destroy you.
2. Distinguish between the rules that are in place to legitimately protect you and the cleverly disguised limitations on your full potential and rights.
Follow the first and disregard the second.
3. Know the balance between deference toward authority and personal dignity.
At times, you will have to exercise incredible restraint in the face of humiliating circumstances. At other times, you will be compelled to take a stand. Both options require strength and courage, but the outcome is unpredictable.
4. Use your experiences with marginalization , disrespect and disregard to help you recognize and empathize with others facing similar struggles.
In doing this, you will find allies and build bridges.
5. When you’re blessed to survive attacks against your mind, character or body, let each lesson be a reason to succeed and never an excuse to quit or fail.”
While none of the skills are particularly easy either to teach or to learn, they are invaluable to black boys becoming strong, happy and successful men in American society. As parents, this list is a reminder that sometimes the most integral and long lasting lessons are not found in textbooks but in the way we seek to build our children’s character to teach them strength, courage and perseverance.