By Beth Strumpf
The author of two published works and director of the Penn State University Cultural Center focused on the discriminatory education that black males receive, as well as race, stereotypes and prejudices against the black community, at the College on Monday, Nov. 4.
Author Toby Jenkins shared how black women have been the primary supporters of black men when no one else was willing to take care of them. As a wife and mother, she is making sure the future for those she loves is brighter than it has been.
“There’s some type of lack of agreement between African-American males and American education,” Jenkins said.
When a group of young students was asked what the most racist institution in America was, most people answered schools. Jenkins explained how not only do African-Americans make up only a small population in most schools, but they are the least likely to graduate.
Our society is based off of what is typically seen as “normal.” When black students listen to different music, dress a different way, and use a slightly different dialect, teachers and school officials see them as threats, Jenkins said.
Schools preach that everyone should be unique individuals, but when it comes down to it, difference is not embraced.
Jenkins compared our society’s solutions to vitamins and medications. Policies, such as confronting issues of privilege and stereotypes, are medicine, while cultural transformations, such as taking learning outside of the classroom, are vitamins. If you take vitamins, it will prevent you from eventually having to take medication.
If we have cultural transformations, it will stop a lot of intolerance from occurring in the first place. Jenkins urged the audience to get involved in different schools.
“We have to get into the culture of seeing each other as family,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins also discussed hip-hop music. Although commercial hip-hop may have its problems, as a cultural art form, it moves beyond beats and rhyme. The music gives young people an opportunity to share their opinions and really be heard. It also is a form of creative writing and can sharpen one’s writing skills.
She said that a doctorate degree is a measure of someone’s ability to endure, while life skills and absorbing what others teach you is a measure of intelligence.
Jenkins said that when she started earning money and had the opportunity to move to a wealthier area, she stayed where she was raised.
“I don’t want to make it out,” Jenkins said. “We all should be a part of making it better.”