The Educational Challenge Conference in Houston. The conference was organized by Muhammad University of The Nation of Islam. My topic was 7 Strategies to Engage African American Males in Technology. The session was scheduled for 1 hour and 15 minutes, but you know how passionate black folks can be when we are discussing the future of our children. Our conversation lasted for nearly 2 hours.On Friday I spoke at
I shared with the group how important I believe it is that we get our young boys involved in technology. Technology is no longer an area that we can simply choose not to participate. We must participate. Technology is a new literacy. This is why President Obama has created initiatives around the idea of getting more American students to participate in the STEM areas (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).
American students in general have turned away from these areas; some say for good reason, but young black males are the most under represented group of them all. The reason why I decided to host this talk is two fold.
First, I wanted to make our people are aware of some of the reasons why young black males are not pursuing careers in technology. I gave 7 reasons that are evidenced based. I also gave 7 corrective measures. Our under representation is a systemic issue and I gave many examples of the structural and institutional challenges our boys face.
Secondly, I wanted to make attendees aware that this is an issue of economic access now and into the future. The National Alliance of Black School Educators has termed education a civil right. I agree. But we need to be sure that when we think of education, we include technology as part of the required curriculum.
The participants responded well. Many of them were unaware of the opportunities that are out there for our children. Moreover, several attendees remarked to me that they may have been aware of the opportunities but did not have a roadmap of how to get to those opportunities.
This is precisely why I wanted to have the conversation. It has been reported that unemployment among black males is the highest of any group in the country, and the country is experiencing record unemployment. 70% of all new jobs in the future will be the STEM fields and 80% of those jobs are yet to be defined.
Translation: If you do not become adept at understanding technology and keeping up with the changing pace of the global economy you will remain in the ranks of the unemployed and the locked out. There is no reason why we can not prosper in these fields like everyone else in the country and indeed in the world.
Yet we are severely under represented. We need more conferences like the The Educational Challenge. And we need to come out in force and learn from those in our communities who have the expertise, passion and familiarity with the problems in our communities and take these messages back to our families to implement.