Page 1

ISSUE NO. 2 / DECEMBER 2016

INSIDE THIS ISSUE:

THE ADVOCATE

Black Lives Matter................................. 1

Young Gifted and Urban......................5

Community Policing............................ 2

ADHD and Black Boys..........................6

Judge D. Eugene Cheek.................. 3

2016 CUSC Conference...................7

Ebony Watson..................................... 4

Aunt Mac’s Corner.............................8

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Momentum in the Movement By Debora Timms

When California activist Alicia Garza tweeted that black lives matter, she was expressing her anger over the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin during the summer of 2013. Friend and fellow activist Patrisse Cullors turned it into a hashtag and then, along with Opal Tometi, they created the Black Lives Matter Network. #BlackLivesMatter played a part in that. Even as the movement follows in the footsteps of those who have been fighting for racial equality and social justice in this country for centuries, it is also causing young activists to become a force for change.

According to a recent Pew Research Center study on the use of social media to discuss race, almost 11.8 million Tweets between mid-2013 and March 2016 contained the same hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter. The phrase, coined in social media, has moved into our lexicon and grown into a movement following the fatal shooting in August 2014 of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. #BlackLivesMatter became a rallying cry online and on the streets in the protests that have since followed for names such as Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Sandra Bland, Philando Castille and Keith Scott. Many have taken up the cry, including Richmond, Va.’s Amanda Lynch. The mother of four says that, when growing up, her parents encouraged her to get involved in the Urban League and her local NAACP chapter. She also served as president of her college’s Black Student Alliance, but following the shooting deaths of Martin and Brown, she was once more drawn to activism. “I guess it’s just having a son, a 17-year-old that’s

just starting to drive and looking at being on his own next year and going to college,” Lynch said by telephone. “Seeing the similarities with him and a lot of the young men who have been profiled by the police - and I also have a husband and a father - I really just wanted to be a part of the change that’s taking place.” Lynch works in Henrico County Public Schools as a behavior support facilitator. She started the Black Lives Matter 804 group on Facebook, and is currently establishing it as an official chapter of the Black Lives Matter organization in Richmond. Another activist working for change is the Rev. Dr. John L. Selders Jr. He is the organizing pastor of Amistad United Church of Christ, and an associate chaplain at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. Dr. Selders had a strong, personal connection to the events that took place Ferguson because he grew up just west of there in the town of Kinloch. Seeing his childhood hangouts become part of CNN’s coverage, along with some of his nieces and nephews facing down tanks and tear gas, changed his life back in Hartford.

“I believe we owe a great debt to the young people, largely of the Black Lives Matter movement across the country, for leading in this way and bringing the struggles of urban America to the center stage,” Selders said during a phone interview about the struggle for racial justice in the United States. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said something similar in September 2015 during an address to the Conference on AIDS in Washington, D.C. “These young people have galvanized the black community,” Waters said. “Although Black Lives Matter may have been intended to focus on police abuse, profiling, and killing, it has awakened us and inspired us to think about all aspects of black life and the possibilities of a new, invigorated fight for justice and equality.” When Selders founded Moral Monday CT with his wife Pamela and Rev. Cornell Lewis in January 2015, addressing the intersecting issues that affect the lives of black and brown people was exactly what he had in mind. “We decided the group would link the Black Lives Matter movement to the Moral Monday movement coming out of North Carolina,” Selders said. “We adopted their idea of ‘fusion coalition politics’ to address a broad range of issues related to social justice.” Continued on page 2

VUU’s Center for the Study of the Urban Child was established in 2010 to serve as an essential resource hub and informational clearinghouse for researchers, practitioners, and community stakeholders who desire to improve the quality of life for urban youth through advocacy, education, prevention and intervention programming. By virtue of its mission, which is to translate research into actionable knowledge, the Center seeks to heighten awareness, sensitivity, and responsiveness regarding critical urban child issues in the academic, practitioner, and residential communities.

Center for the Study of the

CONTACT US:

URBANCHILDCTR@VUU.EDU 1500 LOMBARDY STREET, RICHMOND, VA 23220 804.257.5758


Black Lives Matter Momentum in the Movement Continued from page 1 Moral Monday CT has staged protests and spoken out in response to police violence and racial and economic injustice in the state. They also joined with the D.U.E. Justice Coalition and North Carolina’s Moral Monday founder, Rev. Dr. William Barber in an action in Hartford calling on leaders in the state to commit to a “moral higher ground.” Moral Monday CT gave their platform to every legislator, and let them know they will be held accountable for the issues in it.

Well-known activists such as DeRay McKesson and Brittany Packnett were part of the planning team for Campaign Zero that released a platform last summer that focused mainly on criminal justice reform.

Lynch believes that accountability is a crucial piece of the puzzle.

Also, The Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of over 50 black-led organizations including the Black Lives Matter Network, released its platform last August.

“We have to show up when it’s times to vote, we have to show up at the rallies and we have to ask the difficult and important questions,” Lynch said. “I think if we don’t expand and look at policy, then our efforts are really in vain.

These groups demonstrate the same desire for change that the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) sought during the early 1960s. SNCC’s young members became leaders and organizers of the civil rights struggle. Today, many of those

original members work to preserve and extend their legacy through the SNCC Legacy Project. It may have started as a hashtag, but Black Lives Matter has empowered a multi-racial, multi-generational group to stand up and speak out. They are raising awareness and pushing for change on the national stage. Last summer, the SNCC Legacy Project issued a statement to “salute today’s Movement for Black Lives for taking hold of the torch.” The statement ended with this affirmation, “We of yesterday’s SNCC say to today’s #BlackLivesMatter, ‘Y’all take it from here . . .!” Debora Timms is a Connecticut-based freelance journalist. “Sometimes they’re acting out, other times they may be reacting, “shell-shocked because there is so much shooting and random gunfire in their neighborhood at night,” said Adams.

TRUST AND DISTRUST IN COMMUNIT Y POLICING By Debora Timms Following a 2016 summer in which several African-American men and police officers in several cities were killed during seemingly routine encounters, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch acknowledged that “fault lines of mistrust” exist between police and communities of color. Bridging that divide “closely ties to the principles of community policing,” Lynch wrote in the Washington Post in October 2016.

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ynch described community policing as “a public-safety philosophy based on partnership and cooperation. At its core is the idea that everyone has a stake in the safety of the neighborhoods where we live and work, and that none of us, police or citizen, can make them safe on our own,” she wrote, adding that regular communication and mutual respect are crucial to effective community policing.

the dignity of all people, including “the most vulnerable, such as children and youth most at risk for crime or violence.” The report further notes that “law enforcement agencies should avoid using law enforcement tactics that unnecessarily stigmatize youth and marginalize their participation in schools (where law enforcement officers should have limited involvement in discipline) and communities.”

Many observers may question Lynch’s statement, given the spate of violence that dominated news headlines in July 2016 when African-American men were killed by police in Baton Rouge, La. and in Falcon Heights, Minn. Those shootings occurred at the hands of white police officers. A few days later, police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge were killed.

Jeree Thomas is policy director at the Campaign for Youth Justice in Washington, D.C. During a phone interview, she said that data from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights Data Collection, which shows high numbers of student arrests, indicates the strong need to address community policing and youths.

And, despite the attorney general’s 12-city community policing tour to learn how some municipalities are working to improve relationships between local police and residents, many observers agree that much work remains, particularly regarding law enforcement and children of color. Indeed, before the July 2016 shooting deaths of adult men, three black teenagers (Trayvon Martin, 17; Michael Brown, 18; and Tamar Rice, 12) were killed by police.

“Nationally there has been a push to provide officers with more training in the science of adolescent brain development and trauma,” Thomas said. Through organizations such as Strategies for Youth, officers are being taught how to interact more effectively by learning how adolescents behave, and how traumatic experiences they have undergone can impact their brain and their behavior.

The 2015 final report of “The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing 2015” does not overlook the devastating impact of these deaths on other youths. The report recommends that communities develop policing practices that respect and promote

In Richmond, Va., Carol D. Adams, a community care sergeant in the City of Richmond’s 4th Precinct, says such initiatives are important. As a survivor of childhood domestic abuse, she empathizes with children who have been hurt or traumatized.

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“We have to engage them so we can peel back that onion and get some understanding,” Adams said in a phone interview. “I do a lot of walking and talking to get to know the individuals, not just as a police officer, but as a person. My title may be Sergeant Adams, but when I present myself, I’m just Carol.” Adams works with several underserved communities in housing developments throughout the city. She and her fellow officers are working hard to bridge the gap that sometimes separates the police from the community. For young people, that connection often happens when they take part in a youth program like the Young Adult Police Commission for inner-city high school students, Shop With A Cop or Biddy Ball through the Police Athletic League. “The goal for us is to connect with the family through the child,” Adams said. “The more you engage in relationship building, the more conversations that you have, that creates understanding and builds trust on both sides.” This type of relationship-building, one that goes beyond just being a presence in the community, is what Thomas says can make community policing effective. Philadelphia is about a four-hour drive north of Richmond. It has roughly seven times the population of Richmond, and also struggles with high student arrest rates and high levels of poverty among its majority-minority residents. Coming to understand how traumatic the arrest process can be for students led Kevin J. Bethel, a former deputy police commissioner with the Philadelphia Police Department, to look for a different way. “Putting a kid into the system substantially increases the likelihood that he or she will recidivate,” Bethel said by phone. Continued on page 3


Continued from page 2 Data showed that police were arresting almost 1,600 kids a year in the Philadelphia school district, mostly for summary and misdemeanor offenses. Bethel began thinking about a pre-arrest diversion program where officers would be able to divert student offenders into service programs rather than arresting them. With the support of his superiors and fellow officers, the school districts, the Department of Human Services and more, the Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program was launched in May 2014. Last January, Bethel began a fellowship with the Stoneleigh Foundation, partnering with the Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab at Drexel University. The research lab collects data on the Bethel’s program, which has diverted 1,070 kids since May 2014. This represents a 66 percent reduction in school-based arrests, and the current 11 percent recidivism rate was three times higher before the program’s introduction. Already expanding within the city of Philadelphia, the hope is that the program may eventually serve as a model for other jurisdictions across the state and the nation. “For me, this is community policing,” Bethel said. “It took a long time to get into this ‘zero tolerance’ environment, but we are working to institute a progressive, more restorative process model that will ultimately get to the root issues that affect our kids in school.” Of course, putting the philosophies of community policing into practice can be difficult. In 1991, Charlotte, N.C. adopted the principles of community policing, but they were never fully embraced in practice. The 2013 fatal shooting of Jonathan Ferrell damaged police and community relations, and many saw similarities when Keith Lamont Scott was the victim of an officerinvolved shooting in September 2016. Members of the community and beyond did not trust the police version of events, and when some protests in Charlotte turned violent, the governor declared a state of emergency that lasted several days. The fact is that many communities, like Charlotte, have fractured police-community relations. It is the reason why relationship-building in the community is so important, Adams said. With every interaction police generate a domino effect, and good relations can make long-lasting impressions on young people. “We try to interact with young people directly,” Adams said. “Instead of them hearing about the police from an adult who may have had a bad experience, we’re giving them their own experience with us.”

GETTING TO KNOW THE

Honorable Judge D. Eugene Cheek, Jr. General District Court Judge, Richmond, Virginia On a Monday afternoon in mid-October 2016, Judge D. Eugene Cheek walked into his South Richmond courtroom filled with perhaps 75 people. For the next two hours, the soft-spoken judge patiently listened to dozens of cases, many of which involved defendants with mental health challengers whose crimes involved petty larceny or drug abuse. Judge Cheek’s decision in each case often were accompanied by brief lectures. “Marijuana is illegal in the state of Virginia,” he told one defendant in a voice both stern and gentle. “If you continue to do that you violate the terms of probation and you will go to jail for 12 months. The next time I see you make sure you are clean. I will see you on Dec. 19. If you do that anymore between now and then, we will know.” Since July 1, 1992, Judge Cheek has served as a General District Court judge assigned primarily to hear criminal cases in the

Q

The Advocate: Why did you become a lawyer and ultimately a judge? Judge Cheek: “People said that I talk a lot and should become a lawyer. When the opportunity presented itself for me to perform public service (as a judge), I took advantage of it.”

Q Q

The Advocate: What is the primary role of a judge? Judge Cheek: To decide cases and interpret the law. It is an important part of our administration of justice because of the need for people who appreciate the responsibility and calling. The Advocate: What cases do you find most difficult? Judge Cheek: I like to take each case on a case-by-case basis. There is not a favorite. There’s interest in every case. I realize that these are often (mental health) patients and I set the tone for them. I’m constantly letting them know someone cares. I believe in helping people. I want them to feel that I am trying to help them heal.

Q

The Advocate: What is your advice to young adults who may have had an encounter with the courts? Judge Cheek: I know that it’s sometimes difficult to avoid the popular culture. The best way to reconcile the law is to vote and advocate. Young people don’t realize how much power they have to enact change. I wish they would listen to real civil rights leaders. Too many of them have an attitude of “don’t judge me. Let me be me.”

Deborah Timms is a Connecticut-based freelance journalist.

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City of Richmond. He has been a senior associate with the law firm of Hill, Tucker and March (1988-1992), a Roanoke assistant commonwealth’s attorney (1984-88), a Legal Aid attorney (1983-84), a delinquency prevention program director (1979), and a military policeman in the U.S. Army (1972-1974). Judge Cheek also has served as an adjunct professor at Virginia Western Community College, and currently teaches adjunct courses in criminal law and criminal procedure at Virginia Union University. Judge Cheek, 64, received his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech, a master’s degree in public administration from Northern Illinois University, and his juris doctorate degree from Howard University. Judge Cheek and his wife, Marta Rodriguez Cheek, have four children: David, Jr. 31, Daniel, 29, Dayna, 24 and Dylana, 22. While seemingly guarded and hesitant to talk publicly about his position, a later interview revealed the judge to be energetic and enthusiastic when responding to questions about the law, his work, African-American history and pop culture.

Off the Bench with Judge Cheek • President, Virginia Association of District Court Judges • Past Executive Board Member, Vice President Richmond Chapter, Old Dominion Bar Association • Richmond Bar Association • Richmond Criminal Bar Association • The National Bar Association (Judicial Council) • American Judges Association • American Trial Lawyer’s Association Group Memberships (Past and Current) • Governor’s Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect • The Highland Park Commission • The Virginia Post Conviction Project • Girls Club of Richmond • Girl Scouts of America – Roanoke • Salvation Army Advisory Board on Domestic Violence –Roanoke • High Schools That Work Advisory Council • Usher, Huguenot Road Baptist Church Awards and Special Recognition • Life Membership, Virginia State PTA • Certificate of Appreciation, Richmond Public Schools • Honorary Doctorate, Saint Paul’s College • First African-American President, The Association of District Court Judges for the Commonwealth of Virginia • Former Chief Judge for the Thirteenth Judicial District of General District Court Judges


Ebony | September 30, 2016

A Passion for Justice

“Girls in the juvenile justice system are seen as criminals, but most are victims, too.”

Ebony Watson Ebony Watson is a senior at Virginia Union University. She is a double major in Criminal Justice and Social Work, and chapter president of Lambda Alpha Epsilon, the professional fraternity of the American Criminal Justice Association. Last spring, Ebony studied in Cape Town, South Africa, and mentored young women in the juvenile justice system. My long-term goal is to start a business that will counsel and mentor young girls. I want to work with girls who are victims of low self-esteem and sexual abuse, and who find themselves in the juvenile justice system. Young girls are often overlooked and misunderstood, so I want to advocate for them and ensure they have the resources they need. Girls in the juvenile justice system are seen as criminals, but most are victims, too. The crimes they’ve committed often resulted from sexual abuse or other trauma that was never properly addressed. Once you start looking at people for who they are and not what they’ve done, you’ll start understanding why they’re in the system. To be honest, I relate to a lot of the girls I meet and mentor. I come from a single-parent home. My father has been incarcerated for almost my whole life. Going through that struggle has allowed me to go into prisons and say confidently, “I’ve had some of the same barriers. I’ve seen some of the same challenges. I understand.” I grew up on Long Island with seven brothers. I was the only girl. With my dad in prison, my older brothers stepped up and acted as fathers. They ensured that I had what I needed.  We were a middle-class family, but I saw poverty, too. I learned not to be judgmental of people who are impoverished. That’s why I’m attracted to social work: It’s about empathy and understanding. I was fortunate enough to have mentors growing up and to receive a partial scholarship for college. I want to help girls who don’t have those opportunities.

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Center for the Study of the

To reach my long-term goal, I’m doing what I can to network and to learn what works and what doesn’t. I’m double majoring to help me analyze social problems from the perspectives of social work and criminal justice. I don’t want to work in law enforcement or corrections, but I do want to understand the criminal justice system so I can develop strong partnerships there. I want my business to be a resource for formerly incarcerated people to help them gain skills and keep from re-offending. And one day, I want to combine my passion for cooking with my interest in criminal justice. I love baking cupcakes! I love making people happy, and everyone needs cupcakes for special occasions. A cupcake business would be the perfect opportunity to train formerly incarcerated people and teach them job skills. Some people laugh when I say I want to go to culinary school and pursue social work. But why not combine the two? Some people are surprised that I chose to work in prisons and not go into teaching or another, “easier” job. Before I went to South Africa, they asked, “Why do you want to go into a prison? Why do you want to help these people?” I told them, “Because they’re people. They’re part of the world. I’m not saying that the crimes they committed aren’t wrong; they are. But I want to help change the problem.” I’m asked often, “Why are you pursuing this line of work? You’re not going to make much money.” My response is always: “This is my passion; this is what I love doing. When you wake up every morning and love what you’re doing, the money doesn’t matter. Money will come. I’m going to do fine. I’m going to be just fine.” Interviewed September 29, 2016 This article is reprinted with permission from Richmond Justice, www.richmondjustice.org


Young, Gifted, Urban, and Black Joy Lawson Davis, Ed.D.

Associate Professor and Department Chairperson, Education & Interdisciplinary Studies, Virginia Union University

N

ationally, Black gifted students are under-represented in gifted education and advanced learner programs. These programs are set aside to meet the intellectual and academic needs of students who have demonstrated ability levels above and beyond those of their age peers. Generally, gifted students are characterized as:

• Verbally advanced, are early readers, score higher than the norm on verbal portions of ability and achievement tests; • Possess an advanced number sense, having the capability to solve mathematical problems quickly, enjoy the challenge of mathematics; • Are more emotionally compassionate, have leadership abilities, interested in social justice issues, solving problems of community, nation and the world • Are creative and think of numerous unique solutions to problems and situations posed in classrooms; • Have advanced potential in one or more disciplines and demonstrates that potential regularly. In 1972, the federal government published this definition of giftedness from the Marland Report: “Children and youth with outstanding talent who perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment. These children and youth exhibit high performance capability in intellectual, creative, and/or artistic areas, possess an unusual leadership capacity, or excel in specific academic fields. They require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the schools. Outstanding talents are present in children and youth from all cultural groups, across all economic strata and in all areas of human endeavor” This definition has provided the framework for definitions of giftedness in literature and in state policies for the past four decades. However, while this definition is frequently used, students from certain cultural groups remain under-served and thus underrepresented in gifted education programs nationwide. The table below provides a visual of the nature of this underrepresentation.

This under-representation persists due to many factors: the lack of teacher referrals of Black and Hispanic students for gifted services, biased identification protocols, inadequate teacher training in cultural competency, limited parent and family engagement in gifted education and discrimination deeply rooted in the American educational system of injustices and biases that have worked for majority population students and against cultural minority populations for generations. This egregious practice of under-serving and under-challenging urban area students is a major factor in the continuing achievement gap between White students and their Black peers. Even in districts with high Black populations, such as New York City, Detroit, Milwaukee, and locally, Richmond and Henrico County, Black students are underserved in Gifted programs. Attention to the needs of Black urban gifted students is sorely lacking. These same students, however, when they are identified and placed in programs, may be the most difficult to retain in Gifted Programming. While much of the focus on equity in gifted education has been built around the need for fair and unbiased identification practices, much less attention has been paid to the psycho-social aspects of what it means to be a Black urban student who is gifted. Research and anecdotal stories collected over the past few years have provided a profile of these students that sets them apart from their White intellectual peers. Following are a few challenges that educators need to be aware of as program models are created to match the intellectual, academic and social needs of gifted students of color, including Black gifted students. Awareness of these challenges will help program developers create services that will improve the likelihood that urban Black students served in gifted and advanced learner programs can be retained in programs and be successful in reaching their academic goals and improve their life outcomes.

Table I.

Ethnic Group Asian African American/Black Hispanic Anglo American/White

% in general populations of Districts providing % being served in Gifted and Advanced Learner gifted and advanced learner programs Programs 5% 10% 19% 10% 25% 16% 49% 62%

Challenge #1- Isolation within a program and separation from their social peers: Having to be a part of a group whose community of origin is so different from your own is a major challenge and can negatively impact a student’s ability to focus on the intellectual nature of the program. Urban adolescents in particular are always seeking others with whom they share something in common. Placing Black urban students in settings where they cannot identify with the environment and have little in common with their peers sets an unreasonable expectation on the student to be comfortable enough to be their best. In many of these settings, students have reported being bullied and taunted by other students who believe that they ‘don’t belong’. Similarly, Black gifted students may feel a sense of separation from their racial peers when set apart from other Black students. This sense of separation has been expressed by students as ‘denying their race’. When students are accused of ‘acting white’, the dilemma they face is a tough one. They express having to navigate living in ‘multiple worlds’. For some Black students this is not a sacrifice they want to make. Identifying students in cohort groups mediates this sense of isolation. Challenge #2 - Overcoming ‘low expectations’ Black students in urban schools across the nation are among the most likely to be suspended, expelled or unfairly victimized by other disciplinary actions. Classroom teachers who do not share the ethnic and cultural background of their students are less likely to have high expectations for them. When Black gifted students are placed in specialized programs and their teachers are not from their cultural group, implicit bias affects their teachers’ perceptions of their ability to be successful. Teacher expectations impact student achievement more than any other factor. Teacher education professionals mirror general education professionals demographically, the majority are White, middle class females. Without substantial training in cultural competency, gifted education classrooms are marked by ‘cultural mismatch’. This phenomenon exists when teachers do not share the culture, and experience of the students they teach. When teachers of the gifted hold low expectations for their gifted learners based on their lack of understanding, value and respect for the culturally different backgrounds of their students, outcomes for students are negatively impacted. Challenge #3 - Proving the Stereotypes Wrong Of all demographic groups, Black students suffer the most from negative stereotypes. These stereotypes have led to Black students being disproportionately affected by school policies and practices across the nation. These practices are perpetuated by false notions and myths that suggest that most Black students ill-behaved in school, break more rules, are aberrant in school settings and are difficult to ‘manage’. The

Source: US Department of Education/Office of Civil rights, 2012

Continued on page 6

Center for the Study of the

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AFRICAN-AMERICAN BOYS AND

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder By Monekka L. Munroe Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice - Virginia Union University

Continued from page 5 stereotype of the Black student who is headed for a life of crime has caused our nation to perceive Black students as nonstudious, anti-intellectual, more likely to misbehave than to excel in school. The anti-intellectual stereotype has systemically placed more Black students in special education than in gifted education programs. The myth that Black students are not as intelligent as their White peers, persists in many school communities. These myths and stereotypes are a major challenge for Black students to overcome. However, there is anecdotal evidence that high achieving gifted Black students aim to ‘prove the stereotypes wrong’ by demonstrating their capacity to excel despite the circumstances of poverty, low expectations, inadequate resources that surround them. Providing mentors from similar urban settings and genders are instrumental in enabling urban area gifted youth to better understand the possibilities for future success. Understanding these challenges can help educators relate to and build more effective programs for urban area Black gifted students and others from culturally diverse and low-income communities who face similar barriers to the accomplishment of their goals and fulfilling their dreams. It is the responsibility of all gifted education professionals to recognize these challenges, respect the students and their communities, and do their part to tear down walls that serve as barriers the realization of dreams held by gifted students from all racial groups and communities. This article was adapted from an article submitted to the NAGC Counseling Newsletter Fall 2016 by Joy Lawson Davis, Ed.D.

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rates were higher for African-American (39.5%) than white (14.2%) students (Nolan, et al. 2001).

The current trend is diagnosing African-American children, particularly boys, with various mental disorders. The most common disorder is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). “As of 2012, more than five million children, ages 3-17 were diagnosed with ADHD” and most were in homes where single-mothers were heads of household (Bloom, Jones, & Freeman, 2013, p. 4). ADHD is the most prevalent disorders among school-aged children ( Morgan, Staff, Hillemeier, Farkas, G., & Maczuga, 2013). In one study, teachers were asked to complete a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition (DMS-IV)referenced symptom inventory for schoolchildren aged between 3 and 18 years of age. The results of the survey showed that the prevalence rate of ADHD behaviors was 15.9%; screening prevalence

The diagnosis of ADHD in African-American boys is becoming more widespread in public schools, especially for those who are the products of lowincome families (Evans, 2004). The child’s teacher is usually the first person to suggest a diagnosis of ADHD (Sax & Kautz, 2003). The diagnosis is usually the result of certain physical behaviors or aggression displayed by this group of students. According to Ford (2011), one factor that should be considered is the large percentage of female teachers hired to educate male students. Females are less likely to be tolerable of the physical action of boys in the classroom. As a result of a confirmed ADHD diagnosis, some students are placed in special education classes. Of the various mental disorders which determine a student’s special education eligibility, 50% are diagnosed with ADHD. Kunjufu (2005) states that of the AfricanAmerican students recommended for special education, 92% are tested and 73% are placed. Eighty percent of special education referrals are generated by teachers. This presents a major concern because most of these now special education students will become illiterate adults. Illiteracy often leads to poverty, low self-esteem, deviant behavior, and drug abuse. Almost 40% of special education students become addicted to drugs as adults (Dumas, 1999; Kunjufu, 2005). Is it possible that some of these boys are being misdiagnosed and that diagnosis serves a larger purpose?

sychiatrists and other mental health professionals have historically over-diagnosed African-American men and women with severe mental disorders (Lehmann, 2004). Some of the earlier mental diseases associated with African-Americans include Drapetomania and Dysaesthesia Aethiopis. In 1851, Dr. Samuel Cartwright stated that African-Americans suffered from a mental disease called Drapetomania. The disease was defined as the enslaved Africans’ urge to runaway from the slave plantation. The cure for this disease is to whip the devil out of the slaves. Cartwright later stated that African-Americans also suffered from Dysaesthesia Aethiopis; slaves who were disobedient, answering disrespectfully, and refusing to work (Creating Racism: Psychiatry’s Betrayal, n.d.).

One explanation is the disability check received by the parents of the diagnosed child. In many states, a child can be deemed disabled as a result of being diagnosed with ADHD. Eligible children can receive as much as $600 each month along with Medicaid to assist with medical bills. In some instances, parents continue to receive medical disability benefits until the child’s 18th birthday. Unfortunately, in an effort to become eligible for the disability check, some parents will encourage their children to misbehave in the classroom or other public places. Another purpose is to ensure the continued increase of inmates in the penal system. Most of these boys are not graduating from high school, thus not attending college. Without a college degree it will be difficult to secure gainful employment and without gainful employment, some began to experience feelings of strain and are willing to do whatever is necessary to survive. This desperation often leads to criminal activity, which results in being sentenced to serve time in prison. Along with being misdiagnosed, over medicated, mis-educated and over-represented in the penal system, several African-American families are being denied opportunities to build effective family structures because the men are absent from the homes. At some point, this cycle of destruction must be stopped and dealt with appropriately. Until this occurs, the diagnosis of ADHD in African-American boys will continue to be a detriment to communities around the globe.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Bloom, B., Jones, L. I., & Freeman, G. (2013) Summary health

statistics for U.S. children: National health interview survey, 2012. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital and Health Statistics, 10 (258), 1-81.

Creating Racism: Psychiatry’s betrayal. (n.d.). Citizens Commission on Human Rights. Retreived from http://www. cchr.org/cchr-reports/creating-racism/introduction.html Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. (2000), American Psychiatric Association.

Dumas, J. (1999). 24 Reason Why African Americans Suffer. African American Images, Chigaco, Illinois.Evans, R. (2004). Ethnic differences in ADHD and the Mad/Bad Debate. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 932. Ford, D. (2013). Racism and Sexism in Diagnosing ADHD. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/ roomfordebate/2011/10/12/are-americans-more-prone-toadhd/racism-and-sexism-in-diagnosing-adhd

Kunjufu, J. (2005). Keeping Black Boys Out of Special Education. Chicago, Illinois: African American Images. Lehmann, C. (2004). Not all children created equal in ADHD treatment. Psychiatric News. 39, 16. Morgan, P. L., Staff, J., Hillemeier, M. H., Farkas, G., & Maczuga, S. (2013). Racial and ethnic disparities in ADHD diagnosis from kindergarten to eighth grade. Pediatrics, 132 (1), 85-93. Nolan, E., Gadow, K., & Sprafkin, J. ( 2001). Teacher reports of DSM IV ADHD, ODD, and CD symptoms in school children. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40, 241-249. Sax, L., & Kautz, K. (2003). Who first suggest the diagnosis of ADHD? American Family Medicine, Inc., 1, 171-174.


Breaking Down Barriers 2016 CSUC Conference

“The Realities of Disproportionate School Discipline & Urban Children” was the theme for The Center for the Study of the Urban Child’s fall conference on Sept. 10, 2016. Educators from throughout Richmond and other areas were joined by conference speakers Dr. Nicole McZeal Walters, associate director of graduate programs at the University of St. Thomas; Dr. James L. Moore III, associate provost, Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Ohio State University; Dr. Venus Evans-Winters, associate professor of education at Illinois State University; and Mr. Rashad J. Wright, chief schools officer for Virginia Beach City Public Schools.

K-12 School Suspension and Expulsion on Black Children in Southern States.”

Wide-ranging topics included the persistent challenges and issues that lead to urban school children being categorized, stigmatized and targeted for school disciplinary channels. As reported in the September issue of The Advocate, some 1.2 million black students in the United States were suspended from K-12 public schools during the 2011-12 school year, and 55 percent of those suspensions occurred in 13 Southern states, according to a University of Pennsylvania study.

In addition to examining reasons for the suspensions and expulsions for black students, the conference presenters also discussed critical issues facing the U.S. system of education.

Districts in the South also were responsible for 50 percent of black student expulsions from public schools in the United States, further notes the study, “Disproportionate Impact of

The 2015 report that was conducted by the university’s Center for the Study of Race & Equity in Education, also revealed statistics for school districts within Virginia Union University’s reach. In the Richmond, Va. area, 89.7 percent of students suspended were black. In Richmond’s neighboring Chesterfield and Henrico counties, which respectively enroll just 27.5 and 37.3 percent black students, more than 50 percent of suspended students were black.

Dr. Walters believes that the overrepresentation of AfricanAmerican males in special education is a glaring policy issue. “When the issues of overrepresentation occurs, the entire school community—teachers, administrators, school board members, community leaders, and family members— must ask the question, ‘Why is this group of students overrepresented in special education?’” she said. “In many cases, the

answer will lead stakeholders to examine general education program practices and consider strategies—particularly those related to school climate, preferred intervention practices, family involvement, and professional development—that may prevent and/or reduce the incidence of over-representation.” Dr. Walters said that one way to decrease over-representation of black males in special education is to provide teachers with resources such as culturally relevant pedagogy, along with intense professional development and training, to ensure that teachers’ high expectations for students are met. Rashad, who is the father of three sons, said that he “came from two convicted felons.” Yet, he never felt that he would not be successful or productive, thanks to his teachers. Also, many people have preconceived notions about how black males accept support, believing that they only want physical support. “The answer is emotional support,” said Rashad. “It’s hard to be a man of color and navigate society right now. We need to give people permission to love our urban children.”

Center for the Study of the

7


Center for the Study of the Urban Child Leadership Team

Aunt Mac’s Corner

Lisa T. Moon, Director Associate Professor Department of Psychology ltmoon@vuu.edu

Notes from the Somber Sorority I believe that I have much in common with

American mothers because it has been our

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin,

experience since we arrived on these shores.

and Leslie McFadden, the mother of Michael

This fear has marched alongside us every time

Brown. Each of us has experienced the

we have served this country. It has been an

preternatural fear of “the last time,” meaning

unwanted house guest for generations. Jim

each time you kiss your son, laugh with your

Crow, lynching, mob violence, pointed hoods

son, talk to your son or say goodbye to your

and crosses, fire and pain all have led to the

son may be the last time you do so.

demise of too many of our sons.

And, while my sons are still alive, in

Recently, one of my sons, who is 23, took a step

February 2012 and August 2014, Fulton and

toward what America considers a legitimate,

McFadden became embroiled in a national

promising future for many African Americans.

uproar regarding the deadly actions of a

After more than five semi-productive years as

neighborhood watch vigilante and a white

a college student (at a cost of $35,000), he

police officer’s use of deadly force when

decided to enlist in the military. His natural

Dr. Joy Lawson Davis, Associate Professor & Chairperson Department of Education jdavis@vuu.edu Dr. Sandra K. Flynn Associate Professor Department of Social Work skflynn@vuu.edu Newsletter Editor - Bonnie Newman Davis, Bonnie Newman Davis Media Consulting Most of us Moms have seen the blues in black men and know that its roommates are alcohol, smoking, drugs, and bad choices in associates.

room for seemingly small , foolish errors when it comes to young black males.

enable him to choose a position that will

I was, of course, compelled to have the “warn you

eventually provide him a smooth transition

lecture” after he enlisted, and I have continued

The required six months of waiting from enlistment to induction were the longest six months of my life. I envisioned a traffic stop, a gathering, a walk in the park, or a trip to the convenience store all gone awry and upsetting the chance for my boy to move forward. I’ve seen it happen to others, and I know it can happen to my son. One slip…a wrong look, a late-night stroll, a car ride when driving while black, a poor decision and then...nothing left of my love but memories.

to a secure and profitable civilian work life.

to repeat portions of the lecture each time I see

I never believed that this would make me

It is pervasive. It is chronic. It is our life.

him. It’s the same lecture that he has heard

proud, but the joy and energy I see in his spirit

from the first time I was required to let him out

has done just that. Joining the military has

of my direct supervision and influence. Because

When the Martin incident was publicized in

replaced a lack of focus, energy and drive that

of my fear about the dangers that confront black

2012, I know that it stoked an ever-present

seemed to overtake him during his college

teenagers, I discouraged joyrides with friends,

fear in mothers of black boys all over the

years. There was a gradual lethargy that was

house parties, large gatherings among strangers

country. This feeling is in the souls of African-

turning into a serious case of the blues.

and limited clubbing. In our reality, there is little

dealing with a black male “suspect” who turned out to be their sons. Martin was gunned down by a security guard in Sanford, Florida, and Brown was killed in the middle of the street in Ferguson, MO. Sadly, too many black mothers have ample evidence that each time we say goodbye to our sons may quite likely be the last time.

The #prisonsdontwork

image represents Art 180’s Youth Self Advocacy working with the Performing Statistics program, which is dedicated to working with incarcerated youth.

intellect and post-secondary exposure garnered him a high score on the military entrance test. This accomplishment would

As I saw the blues overtake my boy, I prayed and prayed for him to be blessed with another chance. His invitation to join the military, extended by a bright, energetic, enthusiastic young AfricanAmerican recruiter, was just what Momma wanted!

As a result, we become lifetime members of a somber sorority who visit cities of the dead to make contact with their precious seeds. We are a somber sorority who face fear in situations over which we have no control. We are a somber sorority, and our rush party begins in the birthing room.

ART 180 provides young people the chance to express themselves through art, and to share their stories.

www.art180.org

An image from Art 180’s community programs.

The Advocate - ISSUE NO. 2 / December 2016  

VUU’s Center for the Study of the Urban Child was established in 2010 to serve as an essential resource hub and informational clearinghouse...

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