By graduation day every year, many young people’s fates are sealed. And it’s an unfortunate but unalienable truth that not every child will have his or her fate positively sealed at birth like I did. Not every child will be born into a home like mine with parents or guardians like mine. It would have taken something monumental to take me off course. For others born into different circumstances and facing different challenges, it will take a monumental effort from all of us to get you on the right course. That starts by our not sleeping on a crisis that few seem to treat like a crisis at all.
The statistics alone are enough to make all of us discouraged: the graduation rate for Black males is around 50%, according to many studies including the highly publicized Schott Report on Black Males & Education. But, what’s really infuriating is that not enough of us are even shocked or outraged when we hear the numbers anymore. For every young black boy who hears his name called and walks across the stage at a high school graduation ceremony, there’s another black boy whose name won’t be called, ostensibly sealing his fate. Why are all of us not all raising hell about this? And how can we support the people who are?
Grad Nation is trying to help. The initiative by Gen. Colin Powell’s America’s Promise Alliance http://www.americaspromise.org ) has a goal of getting this country to a 90% graduation rate by the year 2020. But now, the organization admits they are behind in that goal. According to the group, the overall U.S. high school graduation rate stands at 75%, and we still have about 7,000 students dropping out of high school every single day.
Project Success, a program run by the 100 Black Men of Atlanta (of which I’m a member), is trying to help as well. Project Success identifies then provides mentoring for at-risk students. The students get the tutoring and skills to graduate from high school and receive the financial aid to go to college. We need a Project Success in every city and in every neighborhood in America. But, we don’t have that, so we need you.
Here’s what I’m asking you to do. If you know of people or programs that are working to attack this crisis, or if you have ideas or even questions, I want to hear about it. Share your thoughts and spread the word with me, @tjholmes, and with the @BETdontsleep community.