Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone
by Dr. Boyce Watkins
When you think about Oakland, California, you might not have the best image in your mind. The black community of Oakland was hammered by drugs and violence, a great deal of which was brought in by outside forces. The additional challenges of joblessness, educational inequality and the prison industrial complex have all but decimated the hopes and dreams of far too many of our kids.
But there is always good news if you are willing to find it. This week, 34 black students from the Oakland Unified School District were awarded for earning perfect test scores on either the Math or Science portion of the California Standardized tests.
“Tonight we celebrate the beauty and the brilliance of our children,” said Christopher Chatmon, director of the African-American Male Achievement Initiative in Oakland Unified Schools. “This is one of the few school districts in the nation that created a place and a space for African-American boys to (be encouraged to) achieve. We are in the vanguard for African-American male achievement in the nation.”
While test scores for black students still show a gap with those of white and Asian students, the gap is slowly closing. Also, considering the number of obstacles that many of these students must overcome, it’s that much more astonishing when they are able to reach their goals. Universities that sometimes consider affirmative action programs to be an undeserved handout to unqualified students should take a second to realize that when a student emerges from a community that has had its wealth and opportunities stolen for the last 400 years, this achievement is nothing short of extraordinary.
When I appeared in the Janks Morton film “Hoodwinked,” along with Professors Steve Perry, Jawanza Kunjufu, Marc Lamont Hill and Ivory Toldson, our goal was to highlight the strengths and capabilities of African American boys and men. The potential of our community has no limits, and while the last 30 years have set us back, there are numerous signs that black America is repairing itself. But before we can heal economically and educationally, we must also heal psychologically and spiritually. The latter is just as important as the former.
The healing process is one in which we remind ourselves of the value of loving and supporting one another, and the importance of being strong for our children. We can’t allow cycles of violence, abuse and addiction to continue to cripple our families, and we must fully embrace the value of education.
The battle is going to be long and arduous, but we are destined to win. There is an army of intellectual and spiritual warriors who are in this fight with both feet, ready to do what is necessary to save our children. This is a battle that we CANNOT afford to lose.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. He is also the creator of the Building Outstanding Men and Boys Family Empowerment Series. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.