Disparity between black and white boys

Disparity between black and white boys

The late and great Michael Jackson used to sing “It don’t matter if you’re black or white,” but is that true when it comes to young males? According to Doctors Yumiko Aratani, Vanessa Wight, and Janice Cooper, Educational, Social-emotional, and Social-economic disparities exist between African-American boys and White boys.
In order to understand how to reduce the number of racial disparities between African-American boys and White boys, it is important to recognize and identify the factors that contribute to these disparities. It is also important to examine factors that influence and encourage early resilience and act as a safeguard for defense against the causes of racial disparities.

Educational Disparities

One of the major disparities between African American boys and White boys is Educational.  Research collected from 2003 to 2009 shows that by fourth grade, White boys score approximately 30 points higher in reading than African American boys. This continues through eighth grade. Similarly, the African-American boys score 30 points lower than White boys in mathematic achievement tests, but the difference in test scores increase to nearly 40 points by eight grade. One of the causes for educational disparities is the biased opinions of teachers.  Children tend live up to or down to adults expectations.

In April 1997, Parenting Magazine published an article entitled “Are Schools Failing Black Boys?” written by Celeste Fremon and Stephanie R. Hamilton. In the article, Fremon and Hamilton reveal how teachers’ opinions affect educational disparities. Another study in New Orleans pointed out that, 58% of a study conducted on 5,423 African-American boys, believed their teachers should push them harder. 34 % of the boys said their teachers did not set high enough goals for them. Over half the boys in this study were only in grades four through six. One boy in Atlanta wanted to be either an engineer or a podiatrist, but every time he tried to discuss that with his teacher, the teacher just told the boy he should go out for sports. The boy told his mother, “It’s like he doesn’t want me to be smart or something – like I should be playing sports because I am black.” When teachers show they do not have high expectations for African-American boys, those boys tend to reduce the expectations they once had for themselves.

Socio-Emotional Disparities

African-American boys are more vulnerable to socio-emotional development than White boys and it is essential to the boys’ academic performance as well as how they perform throughout life. The results published by Aratani, et, al. reveal that social-emotional differences between African-American boys and White boys develop as early as 9 months and remain through preschool. During this time, African-American boys have lower socio-emotional development test scores than White boys. Unfortunately, there are very few other studies published regarding the social-emotional disparities between African-American boys and White boys.

Socio-Economic Disparities

African-American children are more likely to attain a lower socio-economic level than white children (and other ethnic groups other than American Indians).  African-American boys are more likely to live in poverty than White boys. The disadvantages of living in poverty can cause African-American boys to have bleak adult life. Low socio-economic status (SES) can have a negative effect on families, which includes parenting skills and children’s development. According to the American Psychological Association (APA) poverty can predict child abuse and neglect, especially if the family is exposed to substance use.  Also, families  living in poverty are more likely to be victims of violence.

Protection and Resilience

Significant racial disparities exist, that create disadvantages for African-American boys. Fortunately, there are protective factors that have been found to contribute to early resilience. Mothers have an important role. One major contribution to resilience that promotes increase in cognitive development in African-American boys is the mother’s education. Research shows that young boys are more likely to show above-average cognitive development when mothers have at least some college education.

  • Another way mothers contribute to their sons’ resilience is by being mentally and emotionally healthy. A mother’s good mental health has been positively linked to her relationship with her son. Mothers’ good mental health promotes their sons’ positive socio-emotional development.
  • Also, providing toys to African-American boys is associated with early resilience. African-American boys who were given toys as an infant are twice as likely as boys who did not receive toys to display above-average socio-emotional development.
  • Last, but not least finances, resources, and assets can make a difference in a child’s life. Families that have a checking account or savings account increase above-average cognitive development in young children. There is also research that shows that a family’s income can have a positive effect on the socio-emotional development of preschool aged boys.

I guess it does matter if you’re black or white. It also matters if teachers are encouraging and are unbiased, if toys were provided at tender age to improve creativity and imagination, if mothers had some college education and are mentally healthy, and if the family is financially stable. There are several disparities between African-American boys and White boys that are still uncaptured, but unlike race/ethnicity, some disparities can be changed.

By Angela Lewis
Editor & Contributor, Workingmomin20s
Email: Angela@Workingmomin20s.com

Aratani, Y; Cooper, J.; Wight, V. 2011. 2004. Racial Gaps in Early Childhood: Socio-emotional Health, Development and Educational Outcomes Among African-American Boys
Fremon, C.; Hamilton, S.R. 1997. Are Schools Failing Black Boys

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