Redefining the Labyrinth was a project I began while teaching at a local Memphis High School. With the current uproar about all that is wrong in the Memphis City Schools, I thought it would be interesting to post the work generated by four high school seniors, who are products of a system that everyone assumes is not capable of developing and producing productive students who can compete in this socioeconomic culture. I edited the book and contributed essays to give the book a shape and form, but it was the work of the students that allowed for the completion of this work. The artwork was completed by the student author DeVarius Fisher and the idea to make the name of each chapter an allusion to a song in Hip-Hop was a collaborative effort. I will post each student essay here on the blog. There is also a Question and Answer section in the book. If you would like to purchase a copy click here.
Featured Artist: Tevin Hudson
African Americans are very talented, but do not promote their endowments because peers may mistreat them. Many African Americans appear intimidated and afraid of intelligence. The perception of African Americans as anti-intellectuals has validity due to the images generated by the media.
African Americans are perceived in many different ways in our society. For example, people will generally say that blacks are never on time, they are not very intelligent, and they are aggressive. These stereotypes are affecting educational performance. A study by Claude Steele, reported in his article, Race and the Schooling of Black Americans, states “the national college dropout rate for African Americans has been 20 to 25 percent higher than whites.” African American students are failing to put forth an effort in their education which creates a culture of failure amongst teens and weakens the foundation of the future of the African American community.
It seems like the majority of African Americans fail to express their intelligence. They are afraid of exposure to peers or receiving negative feedback from peers. They remove themselves from the conversation by sitting quietly, and some people simply choose not to participate. The students do not feel confidence within themselves which is making it difficult to improve academically and socially. This leads to people who seem to be unwilling to learn and who, ultimately, seem to be comfortable in their ignorance.
The media is now becoming an inappropriate medium by providing negative imagery. It is leading people to make unethical decisions and influencing education in a negative way. People are starting to consider success in different ways than in the past. African American college students focus on being in the social limelight rather than being successful in education and academics. This has, in turn, caused the citizens of the world, outside of the African American race, to view young black people as inferior and unwilling to think about anything outside of music, parties and clothes. This conscious display of negligence shows the problems that exist for Black students seeking their identity.
It seems that African Americans are intimidated and ashamed of academics. The black society should acknowledge these issues before it becomes more of a habit. African Americans need to feel confidence and pride about education in order to attain great achievements and continue the long tradition created by Frederick Douglass and those who fought for the right for Blacks to be free.
Tevin Hudson is currently a sophomore at Tennessee Tech University and works on graphic design in his free time.