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Young Men of Color


To understand the dynamics that African-American and Latino males experience in the United States, it is important to acknowledge that the issues as well as the solutions for improving the experiences of boys of color are very complex . Boys of color are challenged by institutional racism, socio-cultural factors, hip hop culture, perceptions of masculinity, schools, teachers perspectives, and many more correlates.

The ILLLWI believe the proposed solutions for addressing the educational needs of boys of color is multi-dimensional. For many individuals in society schools are viewed as the socio-economic equalizer. Although cultural conflicts coupled with other internal and external factors thwart the academic success of boys of color.

In addition, the twenty-first century has introduced a popular/hip hop culture where teenagers and young adults have been embraced. Schools are challenged by the ethos that is associated with this cultural movement. Many of the messages associated with the hip hop movement come into direct conflict with the traditional structure of American schools.

Research in this area utilizes the words popular culture and hip culture interchangeably, they suggest the hip hop nation is the popular identifier of urban youth and adults. It is argued that hip hop can be viewed as, not only a movement, but as a culture. To provide a platform for African-American success, the ILLLWI believes the following tools should be utilized:

  • Change behavior strategies
  • Health prevention strategies
  • Promote intergenerational learning
  • Build strong community infrastructure
  • Improve mental health of youth through self-concept, motivation, and team-building.
  • Maximize resources for increased student achievement in schools
  • Monitor and evaluate programs that work with urban youth and adults

The statistics below prompted the ILLLWI to create and sustain our initiative of improving the education and quality of life outcomes for African-American males:

  • 54% of African Americans graduate from high school, compared to more than three quarters of white
    and Asian students.
  • Nationally, African American male students in grades K-12 were nearly 2½ times as likely to be suspended from school in 2000 as white students.
  • In 2007, nearly 6.2 million young people were high school dropouts. Every student who does not complete high school costs our society an estimated $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes, and productivity.
  • On average, African American twelfth-grade students read at the same level as white
    eighth-grade students.
  • The twelfth-grade reading scores of African American males were significantly lower than
    those for men and women across every other racial and ethnic group.
  • Only 14% of African American eighth graders score at or above the proficient level. These results reveal that millions of young people cannot understand or evaluate text, provide relevant details, or support inferences about the written documents they read.
  • The majority of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails are people of
    color, people with mental health issues and drug addiction, people with low levels of
    educational attainment, and people with a history of unemployment or underemployment.