I spent a good chunk of Thursday evening attending the Ohio Commission on African American Males. It was very interesting being one of the few white people in the room and learning what it's like to be in the black "reality tunnel," as writer Robert Anton Wilson would have said. I've written an article about it that should run in the paper this weekend, but I had three points I wanted to get off my chest here:
1. Anyone who has worked at a newspaper knows how hard it is to boil hours of information down into one newspaper story. There were nearly three hours of testimony Thursday, and much of it was moving or insightful or both. If you said something good Thursday night and it didn't make it into the paper: Yes, I know, and I regret I can't get everything in.
2. Many of the problems facing African American men would be reduced by persuading more young black males to go to college and stick it out to obtain a degree.
Brett Fuqua, a Sandusky city commisioner, hit this theme hard Thursday. Fuqua pointed out that while many black teens think of athletics as a way to go to college and get ahead, there are many more other scholarships.
Fuqua said he tells young people, "It is much, much easier to get an academic scholarship." And he said he's taken boys to the library to show them scholarships are available.
I also liked Fuqua's story about how he got into politics, illustrating that a little good advice and encouragement can be helpful.
A friend asked him, "Don't you have a degree in political science? You need to use it."
3. Here's a partial biography of Vicki Slaughter's determined march to becoming an assistant principal at Sandusky High School: Became a teacher's aide at an elementary school under a program designed to give minorities a chance. Became an elementary school secretary. Became a junior high secretary. Got her credentials in college, became a teacher, taught for nine years. Took a job outside the district to gain experience as an administrator. Returned to Sandusky to become assistant principal.
The executive director of the commission, Samuel Gresham Jr., took this in and remarked, "You did it the hard way, didn't you?"
Slaughter said she badly needs men to step forward and serve as mentors for black teens at her school. Anyone want to volunteer?