Administrators and scholars in higher education have long been concerned about the under-achievement of Black men across all the stages of education, pointing to such statistics as that only "10% of Black males in the United States are proficient in 8th grade reading, that only 52% graduate from high school within four years, and only 35% graduate from college." (Jackson, 2012)

This concern about this waste of capacities and blighting of opportunities now extends more generally to men of color as a whole.

Studies show the continued plight of men of color throughout the educational pipeline, and reveal a recognition of the ineffectiveness of a decade of interventions that were focused more on “fixing the student” than on addressing the social, structural and institutional forces that undermine these men’s academic achievement.

Researchers are now honing in on three key drivers or principles that must be at the heart of any strategies to reverse our educational system’s failure to promote the academic achievement of these vulnerable populations:

  1. Uncover, through such methodologies as action research, the barriers that institutions place – in the way of negative climate, inappropriate testing or curricula.
  2. Recognize the assets and resilience that these young men possess and leverage the diversity of their intellects and creativity to enrich ways of knowing for all students. These are incidentally strategies that will benefit all students, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity.
  3. Specific to men of color in crisis in education, understand of the construction of their masculinities – the social, familial and institutional influences on their lives – and how they are manifested in behaviors. Without such an understanding teachers and administrators will perpetuate stereotypes and myths that characterize these young men as flawed and hard to teach.

Men of Color in Higher Education: New Foundations for Developing Models for Success and Building on Resilience: Models and Frameworks of Black Males’ Success across the P-20 Pipeline edited by Ronald A. Williams and Fred A. Boner II respectively– look closely at what it means to be a man for males of color.

Both books establish the need for initiatives concerning men of color to be mindful of the masculinities with which students enter schooling or college, as well as how they develop, negotiate and perform their gender identities through their educational journeys. They highlight the vital importance, in developing programs and interventions, of addressing the sociological undercurrents of men’s bad behaviors and poor help-seeking tendencies. Lastly they emphasize the importance of providing opportunities for men to engage in critical individual and collective reflection on how they have been socialized to think of themselves as men.

Building on Resilience - Sample Chapter 9

Men of Color in Higher Education - Sample Chapter 4

For more information or a review copy contact: Shaqunia Clark, 703-996-1039 or


Jackson, J.H. (2012). The urgency of now: The schott 50 state report on public education and black males. Retrieved from