I read a great article on The Root by pediatrican, Dr. Robert Ross, who went on a mission to find the root causes of the mass incarceration of our black boys. The main point of the article, for me, is that there may be an early warning system for at risk black boys:
Third-grade reading level. Students who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma. Yet more than 80 percent of our third-grade black boys cannot read at grade level.
Suspensions and early truancy. Every suspension doubles the chance that a student will drop out and triples the chance that he will be involved with the justice system. A new report found that 1 million elementary school students were truant — defined as having three or more unexcused absences or tardies — in California last year
Justice-system involvement. The system is expensive, harms kids and doesn’t keep us safe
These warning signs seem broad and probably a bit obvious but taken together they signal to teachers and authority figures that something is wrong. Also, Dr. Ross explains that his mission goes beyond identifying these warning signs. His foundation, The California Endowment, has planned a $50 million intervention to reduce the one in three black male imprisoned statistic. For example, he plans to reduce the number of suspensions and he hopes to create restorative justice programs in some communities.
As great as his programs sounds, I do have a problem with it. It seems to be focused on black males and that it makes me concerned. Yes, the statistics show that black girls fare better than black boys on key metrics such as college graduation rates but our girls are also risk. Black girls are at a greater risk of depression than black men and also use maladaptive coping skills and yet they are rarely the focus of outreach methods this extensive. Nonetheless, I hope Dr. Ross much success. For all our sakes.