Keys to Black Male Perserverance

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  • A new study finds that despite enduring more hardships and coming face-to-face with as much societal strife than at any other point in history, black males have now grown more resilient than ever before.
     
    Conducted by the National Institute of Health, researchers set out to pinpoint and identify all the protective factors most commonly found in the most well-adjusted of black males. Typical concerns such as police harassment, high unemployment and spiraling incarceration rates were all earnestly debated, with the aim being illustrating the themes of strength that subsist despite all the adversity.  
     
    “We know what puts people at risk, but what protects those who are vulnerable?” opined Lisa Bowleg, study co-author and an associate professor in the School of Public Health at Drexel University in Philadelphia. “It’s not money, that’s for sure.”
     
    And yet, researchers also found a growing abundance of that very sector are hard work in striving to find ways and engage in undertakings aimed at strategically navigating those overlays largely based on a stringent set of principles centered around such characteristics as perseverance, self-reflection, commitment to learning from previous hardships, at least a base level of religious or spiritual awareness and the benefit of a supportive environment.
     
    “Too often, researchers focus on black men’s weaknesses rather than their strengths,” Michelle Teti, assistant professor of health sciences at the University of Missouri’s School of Health Professions and the study’s other primary researcher. “By understanding what’s working, we can reinforce those positive behaviors and help men make healthier choices.”
     
    For the purposes of research, the study defined resilience as the way in which low-income black males residing in targeted areas come to demonstrate positive mental health, irrespective of stress and/or levels of adversity.
     
    “Resilience is not a psychological trait that you either are born with or not; resilience can be taught and nurtured,” added Bowleg. “Accordingly, our findings suggest we can use resilience strategies used by men in our study to teach other low-income black men how to better protect themselves and their sexual partners from risk despite harsh social-structural realities.”
     
    Despite their ability to adapt and more and more increasingly overcome a growing number of their obstacles, both Tefi and Bowleg agree communities at large and government officials in particular should be striving to do more in the realm of preparing black men for successes and teaching them to how to better protect themselves, both physically and psychologically.
     
    “It is admirable that these men are resilient in the face of such severe challenges; however, the men’s efforts only can be translated into success if they are supported by social environments and policies that change the odds against them,” said Tefi.

    “Low-income, black urban men desperately need jobs,” added Bowleg. “They need quality educations; they need policies designed to keep them out of prisons. They need opportunities to make living wages for themselves and their families; they need safer neighborhoods. "The most disconcerting aspects of our research on resilience were the narratives of men who were doggedly trying to be resilient in the face of seemingly insurmountable social-structural obstacles."
     
    Now that successful forms of resilience have been at least marginally pinpointed, Bowleg is hoping all such principles will be shared with and taught to other would-be victims. “Early studies of resilience were done on kids and it was thought to be an innate trait, something you were born with,” she said. “But now we know thought contemporary research that it can be taught and honed.”
     
    Ever the wonderer, Bowleg is now hoping all her goodwill research doesn’t somehow come back to bite her in the backside.

    “People will just say, ‘Oh, well, they can be resilient’” and use that as an excuse for not providing badly needed social services, education and job training,” she said. “There are black men who are responsible and work hard, but that’s not the story that gets told about them.”

    Complete findings were recently published in Qualitative Health Research Journal. All research was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Child Health and Development as part of a larger study entitled “REPRESENT: The Health and Sexual Experience of Black Men."

    Other co-authors included Ashley Martin from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Richa Ranade and Jenne Massie from Drexel University, David Malebranche from Emory University and Jeanne Tschann from the University of California-San Francisco.

    Glenn Minnis is a NYC-based sports and culture writer. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.
     

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    7 thoughts on “Keys to Black Male Perserverance

    1. African peoples everywhere were set up for failure by Europeans here is why:
      1.Criminal Europeans Bought and sold Black African Slaves (including my Nationality The Yoroubas from Nigeria) with the help of criminal African Chiefs my grandfather told us so based on what his grand father told him
      2. Criminals White Europeans murdered over 3 millionAfrican slaves and threw them into the ocean as Shark baits
      3. Criminal Europeans forced Africans to work free , that is why they are rich today
      4. Criminal White Europeans convinced us for over 400 yrs that we are stupid and can’t look after ourselves without their help.
      Who are the real criminals ? Yes You Got it White Europeans who poisoned and killed millions Red Indians with small pox , and alcohol , stole their land ,put them on reservation in their own land.
      White Europeans are murderers, thieves, rapist.
      Who the hell are they to tell us that we are the Bad Guys, and they are our saviors.????

    2. How do we expect African peoples to succeed when just yesterday I read blogs on TJMS regarding The German Basketball Player and the Brown Swedish woman whose father is White Swedish Man and Mother a Black Kenyan woman .
      Many people were stating how beautiful “Little Brown Babies” such a union would produce . Please Help Understand “You are Telling Me that Dark Babies are not desirable??” The White European have indeed succeeded , where is the Self Love , Respect and Caring about ourselves???

    3. African peoples everywhere were set up for failure by Europeans here is why:
      1.Criminal Europeans Bought and sold Black African Slaves (including my Nationality The Yoroubas from Nigeria) with the help of criminal African Chiefs my grandfather told us so based on what his grand father told him
      2. Criminals White Europeans murdered over 3 millionAfrican slaves and threw them into the ocean as Shark baits
      3. Criminal Europeans forced Africans to work free , that is why they are rich today
      4. Criminal White Europeans convinced us for over 400 yrs that we are stupid and can’t look after ourselves without their help.
      Who are the real criminals ? Yes You Got it White Europeans who poisoned and killed millions Red Indians with small pox , and alcohol , stole their land ,put them on reservation in their own land.
      White Europeans are murderers, thieves, rapist.
      Who the hell are they to tell us that we are the Bad Guys, and they are our saviors.????

    4. This recession that started under Bush has wiped out over 55% of Black wealth, we lost over half of the little money we had, our unemployment exceeds 14% , and the government has no more money to spend on programs, cities and counties are going bankrupt they can’t pay police , firefighters , and school teachers , the federal government has less money than Apple , Microsoft , Exxon Mobil, BP etc . I know it’s hard to understand, and scary to think that we feel powerless . You will see more kids moving back with grandma & grandpa , families are getting back together due to economical hardship , we will have to pool our monies together as families in order to survive.

    5. We already know the government will do nothing as they have for over 100 yrs , we also know that our government is broke , we have no more money , the wealthy will never ever give up their wealth , this discussion has been going on for over 100 yrs .
      The only option is self empowerment , President Obama , like his predecessors has no real magical powers . With a huge debts of the government becomes less significant , we Black men must realize that we must do for our selves , or nothing will change , in fact things are getting worse. T he truth is that President Obama, Mitt Romney won’t be able to deliver on their promises , America is broke we only control 20% of the world economy , over 25 yrs ago we controlled 50 % . China will surpass us in less that 15yrs , and Chinese people are educating themselves , and we Blacks are ignoring all this. We must do something or become even poorer

    6. Yes we do need to find a way to motivate our young urban black male youths, this is not new we have been trying this since 1960′s and have had some successes and mostly failures why?
      Breakdown in the family , lack of education due to lack of opportunities and willingness to sacrifice due to lack of mentorship. The solutions are complex , if it was easy we wouldn’t be discussing this over 40yrs later. The f’irst step is for Black Males and females to love and care about each other, to visit each other, and help each other with cleaning up neighborhoods, painting houses, making our neighborhoods livable . People who care about each other have less tendency to hurt each other.

    7. We have to be responsible We NEED LEADERS and it cant be a Ball Player or Entertainer…We need black congressmen and women that are active in the Black Urban neighborhoods…We need ministers and the Black Professionals who are working in Corporate America to life their other brothers and sisters along their way and show them what path to take to success…

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