There is an oft repeated statement that there are more black men in prison than in college. While this claim has been debunked, it highlights a fundamental problem in the education of young American men of color (MOC). Not enough men of color start or finish college—the statistics make the scope of the problem clear We lose them because they don’t start and fail to keep them enrolled.
Unfortunately, the trends we see at the national level are echoed here at GCC. The men of color on our campus may be facing some unique challenges that are not seen in the rest of the student population. Perhaps the larger concern is being able to provide culturally responsive educational opportunities to all students.
The axiom that we need to think globally and act locally could not be more apt. We need to be the change we want to see in our community—it start here…in our classrooms, in our offices and in our outreach to men of color and students who do not identify with the predominant culture. Look at the resources available on Culturally Responsive Teaching.
Culturally Responsive Teaching methods can help us create:
- Uniform and appropriate expectations (keep in mind that many instructors expect less from students of color and this contributes to the problem).
- Culturally inclusive classroom communities that celebrate diversity. Being the only black student in the class is not easy and there can be challenging adjustments.
- Courses that reflect strong pedagogy
The classroom is not the only place to make changes. GCC staff are in a prime position to make students feel welcome and part of our college community in our work in every office on campus. In office such as admissions, advising and financial aid, the first impression we give students tends to be lasting. We must encourage all students, show them they belong here and that they will be supported on their educational path. The library, cafeteria and bookstore are also areas where we work closely with students to ensure their educational success.
Nationally, we are making progress on issues of diversity on our campuses but there are still miles to go.