November 5-6, 2015 the Smith Institute for Applied Research hosted the Sixth Annual Invitational Symposium in the New Science Center on JCSU’s campus.
The theme for Thursday was “Addressing the Disparities of Black Males: From Episodic Attention to Sustained Effort.” The event was well attended by JCSU faculty and staff, residents of the Northwest Corridor, local business people and non-profit leaders, and politicians.
After a warm welcome from Dr. Diane Bowles, Executive Director of the Smith Institute for Applied Research, Dr. Jonathan Livingston, who grew up in the Northwest Corridor and now teaches at North Carolina Central University, provided an overview of the current disparities that affect black males, including incarceration, health, and educational and job opportunities. His main argument was that narrative is cruical to understanding data because to have a true understanding the data must be contextualized.
Following Dr. Livingston’s lively presentation, a panel of black males working to empower men shared their knowledge and experiences with the group. The panel was facilitated by Assistant Professor, Ron Stodghill, who teaches Interdisiplinary Studies and who signed copies of his latest book, Where Everybody Looks Like Me. He was joined by Assistant Professor Bryan Patterson, Representative Kelly Alexander, Mr. Darryl Bego, Mr. Dee Lanier, and Mr. Jermaine Petty. Together these men tried to address what it means to be black and male in the Northwest Corridor and shared some models they use to support the positive development of young black men.
Mr. Jermaine Petty reminded audience members that there isn’t as much generational differences as people tend to think, and Dee Lanier said that “we all are at risk without intervention” at different points in our lives. He talked about how his app Uncommen uses technology to engage “men to be better people, husbands, and dads.”
Darryl Bego, who leads the Youth Development Initiative, called on JCSU students to act as mentors for high school students after school and during the summer. Overall, they agreed that black males need positive role models, support, and someone who listens without talking at them.
Following a poster presentation by student researchers at JCSU during lunch, attendees split into two smaller groups to discuss other strategies to address the need to create more positive outcomes for black males. Questions that arose from these discussions included:
- What are we tolerating?
- Is there a concensus on the outcomes black males want?
- Who is doing what and where should we try to collaborate?
- How do we engage black males?
Many great ideas were shared, including a brief presentation by Ms. Tanya Greene and Ms. Cynthia Douglas about a project that Smith Institute funded in 2015 called The 4-Project: How Does a Father’s Involvement Impact a Child’s Academic Progress in the Northwest Corridor.
If you would like more information about being involved in research related to black males in the Northwest Corridor, please contact the Smith Institute for Applied Research.