Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dr. Boyce Watkins: NCAA President Agrees that Athletes Should Be Paid a Little More

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Every now and then, some families get to experience “that intervention moment.” This is when the uncle who’s been getting high, drunk and abusive every single day finally admits that he might have a problem. Of course he still minimizes the significance of his issues, but he has at least opened the door to getting the help that he needs.

For the American justice and economic systems, the NCAA is the addicted uncle. But rather than being hooked on drugs, the NCAA is addicted to the highs of capitalism and corporate greed. By being able to skirt the legal and moral parameters of our society, this professional sports league has been able to extract wealth from student athletes and the African American community to the tune of several billion dollars.

The NCAA’s new president, Mark Emmert, shocked the world when he admitted that it might be time for student athletes and their families to share in the massive revenue streams being generated by their kids. Emmert has admitted that he would like to “explore” the issue of modestly increasing the scholarship limits of student athletes in revenue-generating sports, primarily football and basketball. While remaining far from admitting that there should be significant changes, Emmert has confessed to the fact that the financial asymmetries might be a bit uncomfortable.

Click to read.

Why Do HBCU Grads Earn Less Money Than Their Counterparts at White Universities?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

A 2007 study by Roland Fryer and Michael Greenstone has found that graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) suffer a wage penalty relative to their counterparts who attend Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs). The authors conclude that in comparison to black students who attend PWIs, graduates of HBCUs earn 20% less on the job market than their counterparts.

Equally interesting is that out of the 20 universities with the highest black graduation rates, only one of them (Howard) is an HBCU. Some wonder if this result, as well as the wage differential, cuts into the perceived value of an HBCU education.

Click to read.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dr. Boyce Spotlight: Carlos Thomas – Father, Husband, Scholar, Leader

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Professor Carlos Thomas is one of the sharpest, most powerful black men on earth. Sitting on two PhDs (not one), Thomas has built a career that embraces the essence of the black academic warrior. Not only is he typically the sharpest man in the room, he is a living personification of the essence of what it means to be a black man in America: To love your family, teach the children around you (not just your own), and to stand a stand for what is right. It is because he has chosen to live a life full of power and purpose that Dr. Thomas is today's Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight on AOL Black Voices:


Click to read.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Afrika Owes: 17-Year Old Ivy League Bound Student in Drug/Gang Ring Bailed Out By Her Church

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem has taken a very active role in securing the legal rights of one of their parishioners. Afrika Owes is a 17-year old girl who will soon be on trial for felony charges related to gun and drug trafficking. What makes her unique is that she was also a top student, bound for an Ivy League University. The theory among those who support Owes is that her involvement with the gun and drug trade came largely from undue influence from her boyfriend, Jaquan Layne, who was allegedly running the gang from Rikers Island Prison.
Judge Edward McLaughlin of the Manhattan Supreme Court ruled that it is legal for the church to post bail, but only if the church gets permission from the board of directors.

"They can do if they chose to in the manner set out in what the board of directors can do or not do on their behalf," said the judge.

Click to read.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dr. Boyce and Al Sharpton debate the attack on Libya

Click here to listen to Dr. Boyce and Al Sharpton debate the attack on Libya

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Anthony Robles: One-Legged Wrestler Wins National Championship

anthony robles one legged black wrestler

Anthony Robles presents a lesson for anyone out there who thinks they can’t achieve their goals.  With just one leg, this two-time All-American wrestler is a serious contender for the national championship.  This is what happens to those of us who are absolutely determined to succeed.

Click to read.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dr. Boyce: Kensley Hawkins: Asked to Pay for Incarceration with Jailhouse Savings

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Kensley Hawkins was sent to prison in 1980 for the murder of one man and the attempted murder of two police officers in Chicago. He had an 8-year old daughter and was going to be in prison for a very long time.
During his time in prison, Kensley earned $75-per-month building furniture in Joliet, Illinois. Somehow, he was able to save $11,000 during his stay in the penitentiary, a small tribute to his daughter, who is now nearly 40-years old. But the state of Illinois is not satisfied, and has asked that Kensley be required to pay for the costs of his incarceration.

The state is arguing that Mr. Hawkins owes them $455,203.14 for the cost of keeping him in prison. The case has now reached the Illinois Supreme Court.

"The reason you want Mr. Hawkins to keep his money is because he's gonna get out of prison some day, and when he gets out of prison, we want him to have saved his money so that he can take care of himself you don't want the public to have to pay for him," Hawkins' attorney, Ben Weinberg, told Fox Chicago.


Click to read.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dr. Boyce: Ten Thing Every Black Father Needs to Do

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

1) Tell your kids you love them every single day

Love not only makes the world go round, but every person needs to feel loved in order to have the balance necessary to be truly successful. If you love your kids, don’t just show it with your actions, say it with words. It will keep them from seeking love in all the wrong places.

2) Set an example for other fathers

The black male gets a bad rap for allegedly being an irresponsible father. We know that this stereotype is a misguided reflection of America’s historical hatred of the black male, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t encourage each other to do a better job. Demand that other brothers in your circle stand up as good fathers to their children, in spite of their circumstances. It can be tough to be a good parent with sky high unemployment and incarceration rates, but that doesn’t give you an excuse not to try. Those of us who ignore our children should be shamed into realizing how harmful such irresponsibility is to our community.

3) Always find a way to show respect to their mother

Even if you can’t stand the woman you had a child with, you should always give her as much respect as you possibly can. Kids don’t enjoy watching their parents fight, no matter whose fault it is. Also, in spite of your differences, you must always find a way to show appreciation toward the woman who gave life to your offspring.

4) Prepare them for the bullsh*t

We know that being black isn’t easy. You have to be twice as good to get half as much and life sometimes kicks you in the butt when you don’t deserve it. Prepare your kids for life as an African American, letting them know that they are going to have to be tough, smart and courageous to succeed in a world where the odds can be stacked against them. We all know that life isn’t fair, and it’s important to make sure your kids are prepared for the coming disparities.

Click to read.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tom Joyner’s Cruise This Week: Partying with a Purpose?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

This morning, I got a text from my respected colleague, Roland Martin. I can't remember what Roland and I were talking about, but I do remember what he told me at the end of our conversation. Roland mentioned that he couldn't do anything next week because "the cruise is leaving in a couple of days." I immediately became jealous, because I knew he was talking about the Fantastic Voyage, hosted by Tom Joyner.

I'm not always big on black folks looking for another party, but there is something I love about the Tom Joyner Cruise. Anyone who's ever been on a cruise knows that seeing another black person on a cruise ship is like searching for Louis Farrakhan at a Klan rally. While cruises can be fun, comfortable and even exciting, there is a dryness that people of color experience from a lack of cultural diversity.

Click to read.

So, the NCAA Still Doesn’t Graduate Black Males? What a Surprise

NCAA grad rate racial disparity is out of bounds

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida told us, once again, what most of us already knew: Black Division I men's basketball players are lagging behind white student athletes when it comes to graduation rates. Although the study cites a long-term increase in the graduation rates of both groups, African-American males are still pulling up the rear.

So, what do we make of these disparities? Well, most casual observers of sport know that the graduation gap is a persistent part of collegiate athletics, and not a problem that is taken very seriously. We've come to expect that the white guys are the ones who walk away with access and opportunity while many of the black athletes, unfortunately, get about 10 seconds of fame and a lifetime of regrets. Even when these black male former athletes show up to their alma maters seeking jobs as coaches, they are typically rejected.

Disproportionate sampling may also play a role in the gap. In a recent ESPN documentary about the Fab Five at The University of Michigan, Jalen Rose mentions the widely-known practice of allowing white guys with goodGPAs and perhaps family connections to become bench warmers in order to help maintain the team grade point average. Nobody cares about who rides the end of the bench. They only pay their millions to see the men (typically black) who are dunking the basketballs and scoring all the points.


Click to read.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why Was Bullying Never an Issue When It Was Happening to Black Kids?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Holding its first ever anti-bullying conference last week, we found theWhite House quite concerned with bullying as a public health issue.  Without doubt, the initiative is impressive - far too many children are left with nowhere to turn when cats with bad intentions follow them home, either to incessantly poke fun or to swipe their lunch money … or worse. Most of us will agree that it’s about time adults got involved.

I recall being chased by an older kid on my way home from kindergarten every day.  The boy was eight years old which made him appear massive in the eyes of frightened five-year old. Back then, thePresident of the United States wasn’t going to protect you, you had to protect yourself. So, I did what any reasonable five-year old might consider doing in that situation:  I put a brick upside his head.  Needless to say, the bullying problem ended right then, for I had personally reclaimed domination over that relationship.

Click to read.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Your Black World Survey: Should College Athletes Be Paid?

In light of the start of March Madness, we’d like to get a feel for your take on whether or not college athletes should be paid.  Please click here to take the survey.

Friday, March 11, 2011

March Madness Reminds us of the Importance of Reforming the NCAA Plantation

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I wrote about a new book regarding the NCAA’s alleged exploitation of black athletes, written by University of Georgia Professor Billy Hawkins. In his recently-released book, “The New Plantation,” Hawkins goes out of his way to help us understand that the method by which the NCAA does business is not much different from the mindset of plantation owners of the old south.

The analogies used by Professor Hawkins are thought-provoking and appear to be alarmist at first glance. After all, citizens are commonly comparing nearly every modern-day injustice to slavery in order to make a dramatic point. But in this case, the analogies are appropriate, in large part because slavery is not a dichotomy. Instead, it is actually a continuum, with complete freedom on one end and total servitude on the other. One could even argue that slaves themselves were not completely devoid of freedom, since they could have always chosen to run away, buy their freedom, maim themselves or even commit suicide as a way to escape their condition. The point of this very grim example is not to say that slavery was not entirely horrific; rather, it is to say that something does not have to be entirely horrific to be compared to slavery.


Click to read.

Your Child Isn’t Making the Grade? Then Take His Butt Off the Field

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University – Scholarship in Action 

Today I took my afternoon nap thinking about the days when I was captain of my high school track team in the 12th grade.  I wasn’t the star of the team and I also wasn’t an academic star (my grades were terrible).  Like many other black boys across America, I’d come to identify myself as an athletic commodity rather than an intellectual one. 

I remember that one of the fastest boys on our team was also like a lot of other black males:  He was in special education and had horrible grades.  On his report card, he’d gotten two Fs, three Ds and a C.  My coach was concerned about his grades, but not because he cared about the young man.  He was only worried about his grades because he thought that the kid might not be eligible for the big track meet we had coming up.


Click to read.

Howard University Students Choose Productivity Over Partying for Spring Break

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Most college students are planning to waste time and money over spring break, partying hard, drinking till they vomit, and doing other things that might get them into trouble. Howard University is encouraging its students to engage in a more enlightened use of its time over spring break, by helping the students to raise money for a trip to support the people of Haiti.
WHUR, the Howard University radio station and one of the leading stations in the DC area, is helping the students raise the $150,000 that they will need in order to make the trip. The station is holding a radiothon to raise money on Sunday, March 6th from 6 am until 6 pm. In addition to going to Haiti, the students plan to go to other cities across the United States in order to provide "critical services to those in need." The students plan to travel to Haiti, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans and Atlanta, in addition to providing support in the Washington DC area.


Click to read.

Howard University Students Raise Money to Help Out in Haiti



Office of Information and Public Affairs 202-806-3623


Radio Station Launches Fundraiser to Help University Students Perform Good Deeds

WASHINGTON (February 2, 2011) WHUR 96.3 FM - Howard University will host a 12-hour radiothon Sunday, March 6th from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to help send hundreds of Howard University students to Haiti and cities across the United States to provide critical services to those in need. The “Helping Hands” radiothon will encourage listeners to phone in, drop by the radio station or to go on-line to make a contribution so students can travel to Haiti, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, Atlanta, and here in the Washington area.

Click to read.

Dr. Boyce Spotlight: Prof. Rodney Washington Helps to Keep Your Sons in Line

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I recently heard Rodney K. Washington speak at the Critical Conversations Summit at Jackson State University. I was instantly impressed with Dr. Washington's keen understanding of the experience of the black male in America and his willingness to attack the issue head-on. Skills like those of Dr. Washington are critical in a nation where black males have been placed into a cage that leads them to kill one another and commit homicide to their own futures every single day. We also need more black male educators put in front of the classrooms of public schools and universities who have yet to embrace the difference between true diversity and cosmetic window-dressing. It is for his decision to dedicate his scholarship to helping his community that Dr. Rodney K. Washington is today's Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight on AOL Black Voices:


Click to read.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Seminars for Fathers on How to Succeed in Family Court





According to Eric Legette, President/Founder of Fathers With Voices (FWV), there are several major reasons that separated/divorced fathers would benefit from this seminar:

75% of fathers that contact FWV complain about the legal system and also state that they will not be successful within the legal system

40% of FWV cases involve visitation rights that have been violated

50% of FWV cases involve men who want to obtain their visitation rights

80-85% of FWV cases complain about their attorneys: they have spent thousands of dollars in legal fees and yet see no progress made in their cases

Since 1996, Fathers With Voices has accomplished its mission by assisting separated/divorced fathers throughout the United States to stay involved in their children’s lives. The success of Fathers With Voices has not diminished the fact that fifteen years later even more men are facing similar challenges related to their children. The most alarming concern is hearing men state over and over their belief that fathers cannot succeed within the legal system.

Click to read.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Black Male Incarceration Crisis


One of my very good friends, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, speaks to a panel about the mass incarceration crisis that is affecting black males.  Take a look.

Study Finds that a Strong Racial Identity Increases Your Happiness

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Researchers at Michigan State University have just found that those who identify with their race more strongly than others tend to be happier. The study, which is set to appear in the journal Cultural Diversity and Ethic Minority Psychology, is the first empirical study to document such a relationship.

"This is the first empirical study we know of that shows a relationship between racial identity and happiness," said Stevie C.Y. Yap, who is the lead researcher on the project.
While there have been studies linking racial identity to higher self-esteem, none have actually connected it to happiness. The study surveyed black adults in the state of Michigan. They found that the more the subject identified with being black, or the more important their blackness was to them, the happier they were with life in general.

Click to read.

Monday, March 7, 2011

City of Memphis Engaged in Fight Over School Funding

Click here to hear an interview between Roland Martin and Pastor Kenneth Whalum about the pending merger of Memphis City Schools with those of Shelby County.


Click here to see the other point of view.

This is Dr. Boyce wrote on the issue on AOL Black Voices:

Memphis, Tennessee is a city that is rich with culture, history and opportunity. I've visited the city on several occasions and found the city and its people to be quite enjoyable on all levels. What's also interesting about Memphis, however, is that it's city schools are failing and it continues to be a town that is plagued with racism: The city itself is mostly black, while wealthier whites live on the outskirts, hoping that the black folks don't come and rain on their parade. The city is not nearly as disconnected from it's legacy of blatant racism as it might want to believe.

Voters in the city of Memphis are being sent to the polls Tuesday to decide whether or not to transfer control of the Memphis City Schools to Shelby County, which surrounds Memphis. The Memphis City School Board voted on December 20 to surrender its charter and relinquish control of Memphis City Schools to Shelby County, leading to tomorrow's showdown. The referendum effectively allows voters to validate the decision by the school board, overriding Shelby County's legal challenge to the Memphis City School Board decision.

Click to read more.

Dr. Boyce Spotlight: A Teacher is Successfully Educating Black Boys

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I was introduced to the work of Roszalyn Akins at a conference being held by the Mississippi Learning Institute. Roz (that's her nickname) was giving a presentation about her program called "Black Males Working." I was immediately impressed with the vigor and passion with which Roz approached the important task of mentoring and educating young black boys. Without having the funding nor the fanfare that her program truly deserves, Roz has taken the "worst" kids in her district and turned them into academic champions. She reminds us that there is nothing that our kids can't do when they are given an opportunity and a little bit of encouragement. Saving the black male is not just something just that helps black men. It is important to any woman who cares about her son, husband, brother or father and the abysmal outcomes that occur in a society that is designed to destroy you. So, saving the black male is critical to protecting the black family in America. It is for her never-ending commitment to empowering black boys that Roszalyn Akins is today's Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight on AOL Black Voices:

Click to read.

Dr. Boyce: Does Education Always Lead to a Better Job? Nope

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

An economist for whom I have tremendous respect, Paul Krugman, recently wrote a New York Times article which put the debate over education into context. I found the article interesting as I prepare to speak at the National Black Law Students Association Convention with my colleague, Charles Ogletree at Harvard University.
I've been thinking a great deal about how to help our community understand the meaning and value of a good education (here are some of my thoughts on the matter if you're interested). I've preached relentlessly that being well-educated is incredibly important for all of us, and that we should be willing to fight to the end to make sure our kids get what they need from our woefully inadequate school systems. At the same time, my recent appearance at the Black Achievers Banquet in Louisville, Ky led me to conclude that further discussion is necessary. I saw quite a few young people doing amazing things, but it's my hope to help us all understand that an education is not simply a path to getting a job with some corporation that will have you doing meaningless work for your entire life. Sure, that can be part of the plan, but it can't be the entire plan altogether.


Click to read more.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Educated Black People and the National Black Law Student Association: What I think About Both


From Dr. Boyce Watkins 

In the video below, I talk about my upcoming appearance at the National Black Law Students Association conference, as well as ways that African Americans can learn the difference between going to school and being educated.  There is also a difference between being free and being INDEPENDENT, which many educated African Americans may want to consider. 

Click to read.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dr. Boyce: Fifth Grader Made into a “Slave” in Classroom Slave Auction

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

A black fifth grader in Gahanna, Ohio was used as a slave in a social studies class in order to teach a lesson to the children.  Since that time, the mother of the boy, Aneka Burton, has demanded an apology, citing the psychological damage that was being done to her child.  The principal at the school, Scott Schmidt of Chapelfield Elementary, called the mother to offer his most sincere apologies for the incident, stating that no harm was intended. 

According to 10-year old Nikko Burton, the students were divided into two groups:  “Slaves” and “masters,” with the other black student in class being made into a master.  The teacher then had the audacity to do a simulated slave auction, which the boy refused to be a part of.   At that point, he was sent back to his desk.

Click to read.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dr. Boyce Spotlight: Dressing for Success in a Tough Economy

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University 

African Americans are suffering worse than any other group of Americans during this prolonged recession. Our unemployment, bankruptcy and foreclosure rates are far higher than whites, which is a striking reality to face after electing our first black president. People like Alison Vaughn position themselves to help those of us who wish to compete more effectively in the workplace by offering training that will increase your value to prospective employers. It is her commitment to serving her community that makes Alison Vaughn today's Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight on AOL Black Voices:

Click to read.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Alexis Marie: Former Stuyvesant HS Student Posts Video in Response to Racist Rappers


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Alexis Marie, the girl who posted the video of the white students at Stuyvesant HS who rapped about their disdain for black people, issued a statement regarding why she posted the video. 

In her remarks, Alexis states clearly that she was seeking to use the video to encourage “elite” high schools to have conversations about race relations.  Her statement is very intelligent and effectively delivered, especially for a young woman her age.  I personally applaud Alexis for having the courage to speak up and take a stand on issues like this one. 


Click to read.

Ivy League Bound Black Student Dealt Drugs for Her Boyfriend: Blame it On Hip-Hop?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I spoke this weekend to a group of aspiring college students in a group called "Black Achievers." The group invited me to speak because I talk regularly about the value of education, as well as confronting the structural obstacles that make it difficult for our kids to find success. But one thing I brought to the table that the students and their parents might not have expected is the need for us to confront the destructive elements of hip-hop culture, which teach our good kids that "keeping it real" is something that should be done at all costs, even when it causes them to lose their lives.

The reason I brought this issue to the forefront of the discussion was because of young women like Afrika Owes. Afrika is a 17-year old who was once headed to an Ivy League school. But rather than going to anyone's university, she will be spending most of her adult life in prison. Afrika was recently arrested for being part of a drug ring run by her boyfriend in prison. "Head shots only," he would tell her from behind bars, as he detailed how he wanted people to be executed.

Click to read.