The Black male is becoming an endangered species whereas the only place they are increasingly to be found is on the corner selling or using drugs, are alcoholics, in prison, on the athletic field, or in the morgue. We rarely see him on job sites, at community meetings, in the classroom after age 16, or as professionals with any kind of authority.
If we are going to save young Black males we must make drastic changes in the classrooms, and in our communities. We must re-educate them on how important it is to have some kind of skill to be employable in the job market. We must find new ways to get and hold their attention in the classroom and out, while illustrating to them how education leads to a better life and more freedom.
With the inauguration of President Barack Obama to his second term things are starting off on a good note.
More jobs are being created than almost any other time in recent history. The unemployment rate is going down, not up, and locally Black politicians have vowed to work together for the betterment of the Black community.
Even though as usual, unemployment for Blacks is pretty much where it’s always been, nearly twice that of Whites, looking at efforts by some of the local programs, groups and organizations, that all may change.
One such effort is the Gateway Medical Society effort to introduce young Black males to the medical field and Pittsburgh Promise decision to focus more on keeping Black males, who are dropping out of school at an alarming 50 percent rate in school, and are a major part of the Achievement Gap disparity between Blacks and Whites in school.
One if not the most lucrative, prosperous and fastest growing fields in the country and the world is the health industry. No matter what the conditions of the country economically there will always be a need for health care at every level. Not just the care part as nurses, doctors, administrators, but also the creators, manufacturing and sale of drugs, as well as all the other jobs in and around medical facilities.
I am a strong advocate of hands on education. As the movie said “Show Me The Money.” I say show young people how a course or class is going to help them in the future. Gateway Medical is showing these young people not only what it takes to be a doctor, or hold a career in the medical field, but also what they have to do. And they have them actually doing it, not just a teacher standing in front of the class talking. This is the best way to create interest in a field with a group of young people.
I was surprised to find out from Mark Brentley that the Pittsburgh School Board is not working with Gateway Medical in an effort to expand this program throughout the school system or at least get more public school kids involved in it.
They really need to get the public school system involved in programs like this across the board. Black kids, males and females, must be exposed to every type of career that’s out there if they are going to ever come close to Whites in employment.
Unemployment goes hand in hand with education. Sure Black college grads’ unemployment rate is higher than Whites, but they are far lower than non-college grads. One way we can change that is by creating our own businesses, supporting other Black businesses, and understanding where the jobs are and major in those fields in college.
Another local program to be noted is the Isaiah Project, which is another group focused on education. However, they are focusing on the kids who may not want to go to college. There are thousands of good paying jobs out there in various fields in which a college degree is not needed, only one or two years of training is needed. For some reason we have fallen away from good paying jobs like auto mechanics, computer programmers, different tech jobs, construction, plumbers, electricians, painters, and I can go on. Apparently we don’t want to get our hands dirty anymore. I guess we all want to be pretty boys.
The Pittsburgh Promise is to be commended because they have identified this problem and are now focusing on the Black males in an effort to get more eligible for scholarship money for colleges or trade schools.
Scholarship money is critical in helping our young males who have dedicated themselves to study, to training and have done what it takes to graduate from high school to be able to go to college or enter a trade school, instead of being trapped into a minimum wage job because they don’t have the money to attend a four year college or a two year trade school, which is extremely expensive and the cost continues to rise.
Seeing young Blacks who graduate but can’t get decent jobs because they don’t have the money to get that extra training for a professional career causes much of the frustration. Other poor kids see this and ask the question, “Why should I bust my butt to graduate when I know I don’t have the money nor do my parents have the money for college?”
God has given us all a talent, but we must realize that talent and develop it into a workable skill so we can be productive citizens. And then, like our ancestors, not allow anyone or anything to block our path. That includes money. That means creating more scholarships, and grants for Black students. Those of us who have more, such as athletes, entertainers, and executives, need to give more to our future through scholarships and grants, thus helping move our young Black males from the Endangered Species list.
(Ulish Carter is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)