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How to save young black men... Print E-mail
Written by David Banks, President of the Eagle Academy Foundation   
Wednesday, 06 January 2010


How to save young black men: Authority figures must teach the difference between right and wrong
BY David Banks
Monday, December 28, 2009 (New York) Youth violence may not have spiked this past year in sheer numbers. But it sure feels like New York City and the country have been suffering from a fresh, vicious wave of teen violence. The alleged perpetrators have primarily been young men of color; the victims, most of them innocent bystanders, range in age from 5 to 92.
We can do something together to break this destructive cycle, but only if we begin by answering a simple yet profound question: Do we really care enough about our young people to stop them from killing one another?

Young men do not commit crimes simply because they have nothing better to do. Their immoral behavior rises out of specific circumstances.

Sometimes, the motivation is to secure their place in a gang, providing a sense of membership that offers them misguided self-esteem. Sometimes, it comes from a tragically misguided sense of power. Sometimes, it comes from being caught up in drugs. Sometimes, it comes from a sense of despair and hopelessness bred by a broken home and grim life and employment prospects.

If we're serious about building a better city for them and a safer city for the rest of us, we must move from describing and lamenting the problem to applying tested strategies to confront it. Now.

I've had my fill of conferences, panel discussions and commissions convened to analyze the problem. Analysis is valuable. But in a time of crisis, action is mandatory.

That time is now. The statistics are alarming. Eighty percent of those dropping out of high school today are boys of color. In New York City, the graduation rate for young minority-group men is below 40%. The U.S. Education Department tells us these boys represent 80% of those nationwide who misbehave in the classroom, 80% of children diagnosed with behavioral problems and 70% of children with learning disabilities.

Yet no program or national approach is being proposed to systematically address the problems facing these young men.
My experience as an educator tells me there are four pathways to success.

The first: We must create public schools that educate only boys. This is the most difficult and challenging population to educate, especially in our urban schools, and their needs are being inevitably neglected in co-ed environments.

Second, we must focus far more resources on boys at the high school level. The reason for this is that most schools give up on high schoolers because they believe that by the time these young men reach this level, the educational die is cast. We cannot succumb to such defeatism.

Third, we must make sure that these new all-boys' schools are located in and take all students from the most troubled and poverty-ridden neighborhoods. We cannot afford to cherry-pick our students either geographically or academically any longer.
We can no longer content ourselves with creating islands of success - it's time to fix the mainland.

Finally, we must enact an all-hands-on-deck approach to educating young men of color. That means linking teachers, parents, principals, after-school and Saturday programs, mentoring and a high level of community involvement.

To succeed, teens need to know - and be reminded again and again from a wide range of responsible adults - what behavior will and will not be tolerated.

One of my former students said it best: "A young man without a mentor is like an explorer without a map."

If all that sounds touchy-feely to you, it shouldn't. At the Eagle Academy for Young Men, two all-male public high schools located in some of the most difficult neighborhoods in our city in the Bronx and in Brooklyn, the evidence is clear that this type of approach can work.

While less than 40% of boys of color in New York City graduate, 80% of ours do - with more than 80% of those going on to college. Citywide attendance rates stand at 84%. At Eagle, we have an average attendance rate of 92%.
We have 11 more hours of school each week, totaling an extra eight weeks of education annually. More school time equals more education, more stability and less time on the streets.

It costs us much less to educate an individual in our society than to pay for them to be incarcerated.
We must start to focus our resources and our energies on our boys if we are to save a generation and reduce youth violence. Do we care enough to take action and not turn away?

David Banks is president of the Eagle Academy Foundation.  He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Website: http://eagleacademyfoundation.com/

Comments (6)add
written by Enoch Mubarak , January 08, 2010
From what IF to what MUST to finally WHAT IS: Read Undercover smart and problem solved.

In spite of your best efforts or grand idealistic attempts to save the black boys outside of your schools jurisdiction and statistics there is no place they can go nor height they can acheive where-as they can bypa*s reading to get there.

The only thing young black males are missing is a hero/role model. Young black males at this point in their development simply need something and someone that looks like them to believe in. I have supplied them with that through my persona and book "Undercover Smart."

For instance
Market or sociology analyst reports criticizes our young black boys for spending their money on car rims and car accessories. Young black men are spending their money on car rims and auto accessories as well as they should be.

The young black males journey into reading begins with his first car. Automobile ownership is all about maintenance, and automobile maintenance is all about reading, studying, watching, learning and know-how.

The phase of male/child development in regards to a young black males expenditures and investment is on point. A young black boy's automobile is essential to his self worth and self esteem.

As a result of reading, studying, watching, learning and know-how the young black males are spending less and less time with the auto mechanic. They are reading and buying automobile manuals that require intense concentrated reading.

Automobile manuals teach young black men how to read, repair and upkeep their precious investments.

Our young black males are self educating themselves by acquiring the book sense an knowledge of automobile electronics, auto body repair and engine diagnosis/repair.

To learn more about how you can man up and how Undercover Smart has given young black males something to believe in read my post below titled, "Effective male mentoring for black females."


It has been my experience that having a job is overrated and being a mentor is a double edge sword. That is to say that on one side of the blade you want to improve and mentor the life of a young man but on the other side of the blade the young man is watching to see how you're putting it down.

On one side of the blade you want your subject to listen to what you have to say but on the other side of the blade he's studying you to see if what you are telling him has helped you any.

I personally believe that mentoring is idealistic and artificial especially when you consider that some men spend their time telling a young man how to succeed in life while on their job they spend it taking orders from someone younger than them.

I believe that a true mentor has no story. A true mentor has no past and he has no future. A true mentor faces life as it reveals itself while men, young and old watch as he carves something out of nothing at all. A true mentor doesn't complain about how tough it is to be a man because he knows going in that it's tough to be a man.

Seeing is believing and until the black child and the black woman can witness with their own eyes the black man moving them up the food chain, there is no true mentoring......until now

I currently mentor men by impressing upon them the truth that, "if you have a vision you don't need a business plan." and that you don't have to shave your head bald in an effort to "go along just to get along."

I mentor by showing young brothers and men courage they have not seen before. I take them to my company web site at: www.mubarakinter-prizes.com and show them a black man that flipped his life.

I mentor young brothers by showing that they can be something other than drug dealers, politicians or ministers. I let them see for themselves what is possible to achieve without incurring ma*sive debt, embarra*sing credit enquirers or invasive background checks.

I tell them to forget about a job; start a business. I show black men how to make a job their business. I tell them and show them how I read and used the strategy of "Undercover Smart" to flip my life. I show them how they too can flip their lives and still be a man about it.

I tell the sisters with young men to get "Undercover Smart." They in turn pa*s the word to their girlfriends with young men that "Undercover Smart" is the book to get if you want to mentor a black man, score a few points with your son or reveal to a son, brother or husband your expectations of a man especially if he has already declared himself to be a man.

Very few black men will reach deep into their pockets to spend their last $15.00 on a book but, for "Undercover Smart they will spend their last $15.00.

I mentor by example. I mentor in real-time. I mentor without getting noticed and without making a sound. Any man that reads "Undercover Smart" will learn how to do it also.

To learn more visit us at: www.mubarakinter-prizes.com
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written by Roger Madison Jr. , January 12, 2010
Brother Enoch,
I read very carefully what you write. I have visited your website many times. I have seen what I think is the essence of your perspective captured in "Undercover Smart." I have finally succombed to your appeals and ordered a copy of your book to get the full story.

However, I find that your views offer a very narrow perspective. No doubt, you have overcome many obstacles in your life, and you are certainly pleased with yourself. What you propose seems to be a "one way or the highway" approach to success. For example, you advocate that young Black men should "forget about a job; start a business." I find that to be very narrow advice, when more than 95% of the population of the earth are workers, and only a few people will become successful business owners. Even those executives that fill the news with complaints about million dollar bonuses are employees. There is nothing wrong with honest work, since most of us will spend all of our working years in a job.

What is important is gaining skills -- the same skills needed to be successul employees are a necesary prerequisite to starting a business PLUS many other skills.

I learned long ago that "what works for me doesn't work for everyone." So, I avoid telling folks that my way is the best way. It is only best for me. If it works for others, that's a bonus. Much of what I read in your writing seems self-centered, but I will withhold judgment on that until I read your book.

I have learned that mentoring isn't something imposed on someone else. You correctly observe that young folks watch the behavior of those who would position themselves as mentors. And that is as it should be. However, my experience is that successful mentoring depends a lot on the "mentee" choosing to seek and follow advice and guidance. The role of a mentor is not to create a clone, but to offer a slice of advice that a young person can choose to take advantage of. The relationship may deepen, but the value received is more a function of the mentee taking full advantage of the presence of the mentor.

So many mentors are frustrated when their mentees fail, or just lose interest. It is important to note that most testimonials you hear, come from mentees, in answer to the question "Who mentored you?" It is those who take best advantage of mentoring who receive the most from the effort.

As the quote above states, "A young man without a mentor is like an explorer without a map." Explorers must use their map to reach their destinations. The map is of no value until it is used. Those who are good role models will be followed.
Those who brag about being great mentors are usually overstating their impact.

I appreciate your feedback always. I look forward to reading your book. Much continued success to you.

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written by Enoch Mubarak , January 12, 2010
I learned long ago that "what works for me doesn't work for everyone." So, I avoid telling folks that my way is the best way. It is only best for me. If it works for others, that's a bonus. Much of what I read in your writing seems self-centered,
Roger Madison Jr

Upon the surface I can agree with you but your initial observation requires closer inspection. As fate would have it I just recently presented my logic to your initial observation that the ended in smiles and handshakes.

While you are waiting for the mailman to deliver, go check it out.


Sincerely, Enoch Mubarak
President/CEO Mubarak Inter-prizes
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written by Enoch Mubarak , January 12, 2010
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written by Enoch Mubarak , January 20, 2010
Dear brother Madison
Thank-you for your purchase of Undercover Smart. I hope you have had time to begin reading the book. I look forward to your feedback and review.
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written by Roger Madison Jr. , January 21, 2010
I have sent you a private response and review.
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