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CA School Offers Course in Manhood For Black Boys

By Victor Trammell

A California public school district has taken big steps toward closing the academic achievement gap for the benefit of black American boys.

In 2010, The Oakland Unified School District started providing special elective classes for its black American male students exclusively to help them get on pace academically. The school district saw this as necessary because, at the time, black boys were the demographic performing at the lowest standard academically across the district.

The district offers these classes to black boys who are in the third thru 12th grade. At Montera Middle School in Oakland, California today, there is a helpful class taught to black male students, which teaches the fundamentals of manhood. Kevin Jennings is an instructor at Montera Middle School that teaches this manhood class.

According to the New York Times, Jennings begins his class everyday with a mantra to positively identify with his black male students. Asking the boys to repeat after him, Jennings says emphatically, “I am focused! I am ready to learn! Let’s turn up!”

This class specifically focuses on the unjust reality that society places a negative stigma on black males in America literally from the time  they are born. Jennings uses film examples, such as The Matrix to bring home a formula that young black males have to use in order to successfully battle the obstacles society specifically throws in their path.

“The matrix is there to mess you up,” said Rahaan Smith in his interview with the New York Times. Smith, 13, is a student at Montera Middle School who is enrolled in Jennings’s class on manhood. “It’s a very, very dark world, but you can’t be afraid to be a source of light,” Smith continued.

A recent survey conducted by the University of California polled 250 black boys across the Oakland Unified School district. The survey found that 50 percent of middle school boys had seen someone shot before. For the 10th graders, 66 percent of the boys polled shared that they had seen someone shot before.

It’s hopeful to see that there is a public school district in America that is trying to do something to deal with the tumultous plight of young black boys in inner-city public school districts.

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