Friday, February 14, 2014

Networks of 'consciousness' for collegiate black men

In retrospect, one of the educational benefits that I received early in my collegiate career was my involvement with a network of fairly well-read black men. During my senior year of high school, I was on the fringes of a "conscious" study group comprised of collegiate black men. My first year of college, I immediately became part of an informal study group, and I was constantly getting reading suggestions and guidance from a few older conscious guys in the area. 

Today, when I think about some of the challenges that the young guys I work with face, I realize how much I benefited from those underground support networks of active thinkers. The brothers at my university almost never have such networks. The first-year guys can't identify slightly older conscious men or women on campus whom they look up to for out-of-class reading suggestions, for instance.

I'm not making the unfair argument that we've heard too often:  black men do not value intellectualism. Actually, over the years, I've noticed many guys yearning for guidance on books and ideas. They would welcome the assistance in the way that I did during my first year.

But, those networks of consciousness, that is, those networks of avid thinkers and readers, that can assist young black men in their intellectual development at the earliest stages of their collegiate careers seem to be unavailable. The problem is beyond the level of individuals. It's structural and institutional.

Collegiate Black Men and the circulation of black books   

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