Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


The Civil Rights Act @ 50: 15 Facts (with Charts) That Prove We’re Far From Post-Racial

The following 15 facts about the continuing legacy of racism and the African American experience in this country appeared in yesterday's Huffington Post.  I also suggest visiting the original article to review the accompanying charts.

For many of you, of course, these won't be new.  I argue that it's still important to have the data accessible to support your claims.

On July 2, 1964, the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, officially banning discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It also ended racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and in general public facilities.

Fifty years removed from that milestone, it's apparently easy to think that we're over racism.

Here are 15 facts that prove that's not the case.

  1. Affluent blacks and Hispanics still live in poorer neighborhoods than whites with working class incomes.
  2. There's a big disparity in wealth between white Americans and non-white Americans.
  3. The racial wealth gap kept widening well after the Civil Rights era.
  4. The Great Recession didn't hit everyone equally.
  5. In the years before the financial crisis, people of color were much more likely to be targeted for subprime loans than their white counterparts, even when they had similar credit scores.
  6. Minority borrowers are still more likely to get turned down for conventional mortgage loans than white people with similar credit scores.
  7. Black and Latino students are more likely to attend poorly funded schools.
  8. School segregation is still widespread.
  9. As early as preschool, black students are punished more frequently, and more harshly, for misbehaving than their white counterparts.
  10. Perceptions of the innocence of children are still often racially skewed.
  11. White Americans use drugs more than black Americans, but black people are arrested for drug possession more than three times as often as whites.
  12. Black men receive prison sentences 19.5 percent longer than those of white men who committed similar crimes, a 2013 report by the U.S. Sentencing Commission found.
  13. A clean record doesn't protect young black men from discrimination when they're looking for work.
  14. Black job seekers are often turned away by U.S. companies on the assumption that they do drugs.
  15. Employers are more likely to turn away job seekers if they have African-American-sounding names.

10 Messages of Wisdom We Need to Give Black Youth

Sometimes I think we really over-complicate the basic messages and lessons we should be teaching our children. We can't overlook the nuts and bolts our parents and grandparents taught us.

An article by Ernest Owens posted yesterday on The Huffington Post reminds us of some of these basics. He covers a number of important reminders that many of us might take for granted, but that our young people need to hear consistently, and be prompted to reflect on.

The major points follow. Certainly worth reading the full article.

Lately, I have had the pleasure of spending quality time with my younger brother. Seeing him play with his fellow peers has felt more like ethnography than just playtime in the backyard. One thing that is certain and upsetting: The current issues that black adults are fighting about today are being carried out by their children. The colorism, teasing about blackness, and masculinity is being expressed at micro levels. Sadly, I have begun to fear that if anyone isn't out there encouraging the youth more socially, the cycle will continue.

...So here is what I've learned and my only hope is that others will carry it on:

  1. You are entering a world of prejudgment, but you can still redefine yourself.
  2. Don't ever let anyone question your blackness -- it's not their right.
  3. Success is not only through fame and fortune, but hard work and integrity.
  4. Athletes and entertainers are not the only aspiring role models -- search for mentors in your community and elsewhere.
  5. Being light or dark-skinned makes you no better or inferior of a person.
  6. Boys, it's okay to express your emotions; and girls, it's okay to exercise independence.
  7. Education is, and will always be, essential -- no matter what career you choose.
  8. Words are stronger than fists. Use them more.
  9. Let your inner beauty be shown through your personal creativity, not just from pop culture.
  10. You are smart and entitled to happiness just like anyone else in the world.

And concluding...

Lastly, I hope that many read this as a way to strengthen the black youth of today rather than just dismiss it as another guy preaching respectability politics. I am only 22-years-old and while many before me have tried to encourage blacks to "be just like the rest of them" or learn how other races do it, I am instead trying to pass down lessons that I have learned coming up so that one day my younger brother won't have to grow up to see lists like this or wonder why there aren't as many visible high achieving black role models outside of sports and entertainment that he can publicly look up to.


Educating African American and Latino Students

Just came across an article this evening that was posted on Huffington Post's Black Voices page last Friday.  In the article, Twelve Tips All Educators Must Know About Educating African American and Latino Students, Quasson Castro highlights 12 considerations for educators to keep in mind when teaching African American and Latino students.

It's a quick read, and can serve as an introduction to basic diversity and cultural competence discussions for teachers of students who are of a different racial/ethnic background.

The twelve considerations...

  • Check stereotypes
  • Connect with parents
  • Cultural images
  • Identity
  • Motivation
  • Enthusiasm
  • After school programs
  • Value of education and real life
  • Forgive
  • Model appropriate behavior and Dress for success
  • Suspension
  • Classroom format

Worth the quick read.