Hoping to inspire intellectual curiosity while encouraging a frank dialogue around the issues confronting young black men in today’s society, California State University, Northridge is hosting its fall Bi-Annual Men of Color Enquiry and Student Research Poster Session on Wednesday, Nov. 18.
The session will focus on issues raised by students in CSUN’s Africana studies class 325, “The Black Male in Contemporary Times.” The event will feature a presentation by Joseph White, professor emeritus of psychology and psychiatry at UC Irvine, who will discuss popular images of black males in American society.
The Men of Color event is scheduled to take place from 2 to 4:30 p.m. in the Northridge Center of the University Student Union, on the east side of the campus located at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge.
“While the student presentations are part of a class project, the session itself is designed to inspire a serious exploration of the issues facing black men in today’s society, as well as a discussion about what we, as a society, should do about them,” said Africana studies professor Cedric Hackett, director of CSUN’s DuBois-Hamer Institute for Academic Achievement.
“The discussions can be eye opening,” Hackett continued. “The students are exploring culturally relevant and sensitive issues. The day has a social justice component to it not only because of the issues we are exploring, but because we are asking the students, what are they going to do with the information they’ve gathered? How are they going to educate their peers and their community? We are planting a seed, and we’ll see what takes root.”
CSUN has joined with universities across the country in trying to find ways to bridge the gap between higher education and black male students. A report published in 2012 by the University of Pennsylvania documents the “crisis” facing black men in higher education. According to the report, the relative number of black men entering college hasn’t improved since 1967, and only 33 percent of black male college students graduate within six years.
Hackett said one of the goals of the Nov. 18 event is to actively engage young black men academically. The topics being explored by the students in the student research poster session include the media’s influence on the perceptions of African Americans, the mass incarceration of black men, manhood training for black men and social engineering.
“Several of the topics are very provocative and will get people thinking,” Hackett said, adding that having White as a presenter is a “bonus” for the day’s discussions. He noted White’s book, “Black Men Emerging: Facing the Past and Seizing a Future in America,” is one of the textbooks used in the class.
“Dr. White is considered the ‘godfather’ of the field of black psychology,” Hackett said. “It’s interesting to see how much things have changed [and] not changed since he first started researching the state of black males in society.”
For more information about the Men of Color session, visit the website http://www.csun.edu/dubois-hamer-institute-for-academic-achievement.