Promotes self-esteem and positive identity which studies have shown foster a greater interest in learning and higher academic achievement among African American students.
As our youth struggle for identity during their adolescent years, African Americans are faced with added social character degrading challenges such as having to deal with the notion that society doesn’t think they can achieve, along with the inequalities of being black. This creates an underdog phenomenon and seriously affects the adolescent’s development of a healthy self-esteem. Many adolescents and young adults are having to deal with a sense of hopelessness and failure before they even begin to explore the world and what it has to offer.
According to Stefan, 2007, it’s important that African American students disregard this idea of cynicism and find self-empowerment. Knowledge of their history, which was taken from them during salary, must be made available, as this knowledge sets the framework for a positive self-image and identity, and teaches them they can achieve and overcome adversity as their ancestors before them.
Harper, 1977 points to evidence-based research that African American children who understand their history, are more engaged in the educational process, contribute more, on average have greater school moral and perform better academically. Given this research and the obvious problems we are currently experiencing with the high drop-out rates of African American males, especially, this should be an incentive for every educator to embrace the opportunity to educate themselves on African American history so they are prepared and equipped with the true, full and accurate stories of African American’s and their contributions throughout history.
Based on a nationwide study of teachers by the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), who implemented an African American curriculum, teachers are interested and find it helpful teaching the complexities of African American history and even going beyond simply a social studies curriculum. Harper stated, “traditional curriculum forces the Black student to alienate himself and to psychologically or physically drop out of the regular school curriculum, thus many times seeking to satisfy his needs in unhealthy ways that can of ten victimize himself and others, 1977.”
As educators and parents, we are unable to defy the facts that African Americans in our urban areas are continuing to drop out of the educational system, and it’s alarming. As a nation that prides itself on being one of the greatest nations in the world, we can do much better. We are failing African American children at an alarming rate. This drop out and failure rate phenomenon only worsens the crime rates in our communities, as these children are left with few opportunities. They often unexcitingly find themselves forced into gang violence, drug trafficking and other ills that tax our resources which are critically needed for improving our nation’s infrastructure. The only individuals benefiting from this system of failure are the owners of prisons. The lack of serious and deliberate attention to this problem is creating a society in business of producing young people who are uneducated and unable to make their communities better economically, politically, and educationally.
According to Stefan (2007), “it is important for young African American to deny ideas of defeatism and embody ideas of empowerment” He goes on to say that African American must not only have knowledge of their history but have pride in their culture and legacy. He further mentions that this knowledge and pride sets the framework for a healthy identity which will teach them that they can achieve and excel in the face of obstacles just as their forefathers did before them.
Colon, 1984, points to the lower academic performance of Black males as being related to the longstanding subordinate status which they have experienced for hundreds of years.
Colon, 1984, further states that young African Americans must be proud of their African legacy and history. They should also have knowledge about the same as this knowledge establishes the framework for a cultural identity that is a positive. This cultural identity will enhance their thinking and teach them to achieve great things, despite the color of their skin, just like their ancestors before them.
The poor academic performance by Black males is hence associated to their limited perceptions of opportunities in life as a result of a longstanding subordinate status in America (Lancer, 2002, p.268).
Moore & Ford concluded that multicultural education makes learning relevant to all students providing a positive cultural identity. It was also concluded that the gifted student who displayed poor performance than expected showed association with a dominate Eurocentric curriculum.
Multicultural education will offer students opportunities to learn about their history, which is directly linked to the school curriculum. These opportunities will enhance learning and increase relevance to all students. They will also inculcate positive cultural identity in students of color (Moore, & Ford, 2005).
As such, Black Studies serves three major functions: (1) corrective-the distortions and fallacies surrounding and projected against Blacks for elitist and racial and cultural supremacist purposes are countered with factual knowledge and critical historical interpretation; (2) descriptive-the past and present events that constitute the Black experience are accurately documented; and (3) prescriptive- concepts, theories, programs, and movements toward the alleviation or resolution of group problems faced by Blacks are generated and promoted.
Black Studies has been, in the words of William H. McClendon, “in the forefront for developing and strengthening the intellectual, social and political thought necessary for human liberation”.
The difficulties associated with advancing Black Studies are surpassed by the need to do so. To be remiss in continuing that struggle would be a catastrophe that we can ill afford, with consequences that future generations should not have to bear.
Parker discusses the fact that when education is considered to be a part of the black community that it enhances the feeling of social empowerment and takes away the bias feelings of discrimination. Discrimination can lead African students to consider their achievements to be nothing more than a failure but when they experience the perception of competence and learn that they have the ability to solve problems and to increase their future economics, it changes everything.
Parker, says that “Helping to develop skills needed to cope with race-based challenges they will likely face, racial socialization can provide African American children with awareness that can create positive outcomes throughout their educational journey (Parker, 2016).