You probably know all of the statistics about young African American men. None of the stats point to any changes for these folks in the next generation. The recent shootings of young men are further exacerbating the view of many Americans, of any skin color, that our country cannot continue in this direction. Living in South Carolina has put many of these problems into sharp focus. According to the latest ranking of states, including Washington, D.C., South Carolina is listed as being 51st in education. Can you imagine what it takes to be ranked 51st. I am not sure what the variables are, but that says so much about how young men of color wind up on the bottom of the heap economically.
Is South Carolina trying to improve its education system? They are. However, long term historical happenings that have divided the races make any effort to improve public schools like shoveling against the tide. The legacy of integration that produced “White Academies,” the proliferation of segregated charter schools and private religious schools, makes improvements to, “The Corridor of Shame” exceptionally difficult.
Local poor and rural school districts, with mostly African American students, get the raw end of criticism from the media and local citizenry. People are more than happy to believe just about anything they are told, whether fact based or untruths. They have no idea how this kind of negative views affect the children in the schools and their parents.
I had a chance to sit down with a group of African American senior boys, at a local high school. I do miss being with the kids. Our scholarship program enabled us to keep abreast about what was happening in rural areas and with our scholarship students. They are still in contact with us. These young men sat around a table with me and spoke about their own dreams and the effect the negative things people say about their school.
These were not a special group of the student government types, or the best students. The only qualification that I asked the assistant principal was that the youngsters be articulate. He fulfilled my request. Of the nine, 7 planned on further education. The other two were heading into the military. They all agreed that they wanted to leave their county. They felt that there was really nothing for them there. When asked about jobs, they described their lack of funds for automobiles, no public transportation, and a lack of jobs other than tourist jobs (notoriously low paying).
I could see in their faces their desire to excel. Some of them were athletes. They hoped to be able to get a college education because of their athletic skills. One young man was part of a singing group with hopes of going into theatrical design. One of the young men was hopeful that he could be a pharmacist. As our experience with youngsters of that age, there was really a blend of understanding of what was coming next and also a lack of knowledge of how to attain the next level.
What they really need is an adult advocate. We had been talking to the local technical college about that sort of thing. Having an adult to speak to about how to navigate the next step in your life is a distinct advantage. For those going on to higher education, being the first in their family, is a complex travail. I know, I went through it myself.



    • The politics here are pretty heavy. Since these are county school districts and the county commissioners (County Councilmen and women), the connections are different. I will take a look. Thanks again.a

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