The Oakland Unified School District is doing their part in educating young African-American boys about what the negative stereotypes and expectations are for black men and boys in America and how to that not those connotations weaken them.

The full-credit elective is called “Mastering Our Cultural Identity: African American Male Image” (also referred to as the Manhood Development Program). The course is now in the curriculum at 20 schools throughout the district and is tailor made for grades third through 12th. All classes are taught by black male instructors whose experiences and perspectives provide a grater understanding to the students that they mentor.The program began out of the Office of African American Male Achievement unofficially five years ago but things really got going in 2012.

Christopher P. Chatmon, executive director of the Office of African American Male Achievement says that:

“When black children do what children do, the system reacts more harshly. The No.1 strategy to reduce discipline issues is engaged instruction. We’re talking about how to elevate their game academically through the lens of brotherhood”.

Kevin Jennings, teacher, begins his class with the daily affirmation, “I am focused. I am ready to learn. Let’s turn up!”. He focuses on how society sees black men and they refer to the lens as “the matrix”. 13 year-old Rahsaan Smith says, “The matrix is there to mess you up. It’s a very, very dark world, but you cant be afraid to be a source of light”.

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Source: New York Times

About The Author Patryce Stewart

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