The Promise for African American Male Students in Graduate Studies and Professional Development at Marygrove College

The Promise for African American Male Students in Graduate Studies and Professional Development at Marygrove College

Chukwunyere E. Okezie (Marygrove College, USA), Judy Alhamisi (Marygrove College (Retired), USA) and Blanche J. Glimps (Tennessee State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9195-5.ch002

Abstract

The recruitment of African American males into chosen professions in the United States of America is an increasing challenge at national, state, and local levels. Gender and racial disparities between teachers in this country and the students they teach are present in classrooms. This chapter examines the Marygrove College's Griot program as an initiative established to address the underrepresentation of African American males in additional designated occupations. The philosophy and heritage from which the Griot Program was developed, along with key events and decisions throughout its life span are discussed. Model African American initiatives that can help shape Griot's future as it tries to increase the recruitment, retention, and success of African American men in graduate school to assume leadership roles in human resource management, in social justice, as well as in education are also presented.
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Introduction

African American males’ representation in professional careers has been an ongoing concern in the academic environment. It is difficult to read an academic journal or newspaper in the United States of America (USA) that does not include an article or editorial on underrepresentation of African American males in many professions. Of particular concern is the critical nature of these articles and the negative editorials. From occupation to occupation according to Bourree (2015), the disparity from (Legal, Education, Health, Social Services, etc.) cannot be over emphasized. Bourree continued that it has been documented for decades that “American workforce has been divided by race. Although, this gap might have improved, the gap still persists” (para. 1).

A debate exists regarding the lack of African American male in many careers in the USA, with supporters (those who defend having more African American men in the world of work) and detractors (those who believe they are not needed) failing to reach a consensus on this issue. Nevertheless, it is a well-established fact that institutions of higher education in the United States of America do not successfully recruit, retain and graduate African American men. The low graduation rates of African American men in colleges and universities have been the subject of many research projects (Jones & Jenkins, 2012). “Black Student College Graduation Rates” 2006 reported that the nationwide college graduation rate for black students, including males, remains at a very low rate of 42 percent. This percentage is 20 points below the 62 percent rate for white students.

“The lack of postsecondary success for African American males has garnered significant attention from academic scholars and public policy leaders” (Baber, 2014, p. 3). According to Barnum (2018), Black students are less likely to graduate from high school and college, including [graduate] school due to an education policy that sometimes assumes that socioeconomic status such as family income matters more than race and racism. An example can be seen in the results of math and reading exams. Barnum further reports that white eighth graders who were eligible for subsidized lunch outscored Black eighth graders who were ineligible.

Okahana and Zhou (2018) provide data on graduate school enrollments by race and ethnicity. The report shows that in 2017, 49,482 Black students enrolled in graduate schools for the first time. They made up 11.9 percent of all first-time graduate students at U.S. universities. Of these first-time Black graduate students, 68.9 percent were women.

The data by broad academic field indicates that Blacks represents 18.8 percent of all first-time graduate students in public administration and more than 12 percent of all first-time graduates in the social sciences, education, and business. Blacks made up 5.7 percent of all first-time graduate students in engineering and 3.7 percent in the physical and earth sciences.

Okahana and Zhou continue to report the total enrollment in USA graduate schools was 188,838 for Blacks, indicating 12.6 percent of all enrollments. Of this number, 56, 765 were Black men compared to 130,006 Black women enrolled in graduate school. The total number of Blacks was less than six percent of all graduate students in the arts and humanities, biological and agricultural sciences, engineering, and physical sciences.

The previous chapter on “The Promise for African American Male Students at Marygrove College” included research on similar successful programs and identified elements that were transported to the Marygrove College Griot Program. The literature focused on the underrepresentation of African American males in teaching (Nicolas, 2014). Brown (2012) “explored the theoretical implications around positioning the Black male teacher as the central agent of social changes for Black male students” (p. 296). Brown’s argument is that male teachers should be prepared to effectively teach all students, including Black males. The following African American male initiatives which were summarized in the previous chapter, are included at this time due to their continued relevance in the Marygrove College Griot graduate program.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Underrepresentation: Inadequately represented ( https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/underrepresentation ).

Griot: A member hereditary caste among the peoples of western Africa whose function is to keep an oral history of the tribe or village and to entertain with stories, poems, songs, dances, etc. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/griot ).

Graduate Education: Involves learning and studying for academic or professional degrees, academic or professional certificates, academic or professional diplomas, or other qualifications for which a first or bachelor's degree generally is required, and it is normally. ( https://www.google.com/search ?)

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): Were established prior to 1964 with the intention of offering accredited, high-quality education to African American students across the United States ( https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/graduate%20education ).

African American Male: A person of African descent who is living in the United States.

African American Male Initiatives: Is a completion initiative designed to help young men find their passion, walk in their purpose, and reach their potential ( https://www.google.com/search ).

Reimagine: To imagine again or anew especially; to form a new conception of re-create ( https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/graduate%20education ).

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