PINE BLUFF, Ark. –Black male high school students face some staggering statistics. According to a 50 State study1, African‐American males are also more likely to spend time in a detention center or jail than any other race with other surveys showing that involvement in the juvenile justice system impairs academic achievement.
The study also concluded that Black male students perform best in environments they perceive as safe. In partnership with the Beyond the Bricks Project (BTBP), the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff seeks to provide an environment that fosters young black males through the Produce! Create! Innovate! Community Producer program. The program will kick off with a luncheon and parent orientation Thursday, January 10 at 6:00 pm in the L.A. Davis, Sr. Student Union lounge.
According to BTBP Co-Executive Directors Derek Koen and Ouida Washington, too often young black men are viewed through the lens of deficits and the primary goal of the Beyond the Bricks Project is to use media to allow these young men, their communities and the world to understand that they are bright, thoughtful and courageous people who are much more “at potential” than they are “at risk” – and it is up to All of us to help them recognize and incorporate this fact into their lives. “We are very proud and excited to partner with UAPB for this program as we both seek to build brighter futures for our children.”
“I wanted to do this program to help African-American males make the transition from high school to college,” said Ralph Owens, Jr., Associate Dean for Student Activities. Owens has been mentoring students for more than 15 years.
There are 3 key components of the Community Producers curriculum – media literacy, physical literacy and STEM components that will work together with the goal of transcending “isms” (e.g. racism, classism, sexism) with critical interrogation and meaningful self – reflection through media analysis and production. Along with increasing critical analytical skills, students will also have the opportunity to enhance their writing and multimedia skills since the courses require students to compose written reflections and produce critiques of media representation.
This course employs self-reflective, communal, and fellowship approaches to inquiry enabling students to ponder together historical perspectives and current media representations of Black men and boys. Students are offered a safe environment to develop and hone the life skills necessary to begin the reimagining process of self and community.
They will also be given the opportunity to take ownership of their learning processes through rigorous and reflective activities and projects. In addition, this course will expose students to various components of digital literacy and the STEM fields that are necessary to acquire for 21st century learning.
About the Beyond the Bricks Project
The Beyond the Bricks Project (BTBP) is a media and international community engagement initiative to encourage and promote community based solutions to increase educational and social outcomes for school age Black males. The BTBP takes a grassroots approach to improving those outcomes by engaging community members including the young men themselves, educators, civic leaders, and other stakeholders to craft solutions to the challenges the young men face in their schools, neighborhoods, and cities. Importantly, we encourage the young men to examine their roles as leaders and community citizens.
The BTBP believes that taking an asset-based attitude that seeks to build on young Black males’ strengths, both individually and collectively, helps to prepare them to be leaders in advancing themselves, each other, and their communities. To that end, the project aims to create a national network of communities, organizations and foundations, universities, industries and individuals who are committed to shifting the trajectory of all our young people towards success and community advocacy.
The BTBP work towards establishing partnerships throughout the country and the world to encourage communities to address not only the educational and social inequities that contribute to failure, but also to look at the change that’s necessary within communities so that everyone is accountable and takes responsibility for the success of our children. For more information about BTBP, visit http://beyondthebricksproject.com .
For more information about the Beyond the Bricks Project Community Producers Program at UAPB, call (870)575-7063.
1“The 50 State Report on Education and Black Males” by John Jackson, Ed.D., J.D. (2008) “Breaking Barriers: Plotting the Path to Academic Success for School‐age African American Males” by Ivory Toldson, Ph.D. (2008)