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A case study of adolescent African American males and factors in resiliency that have contributed to their development and school success

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A case study of adolescent African American males and factors in resiliency that have contributed to their development and school success
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Batey, Samuel R
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English
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xiii, 131 leaves : ; 28 cm

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African Americans -- Biography -- Case studies -- Colorado -- Denver ( lcsh )
Resilience (Personality trait) ( lcsh )
African Americans -- Biography ( fast )
Resilience (Personality trait) ( fast )
Colorado -- Denver ( fast )
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Case studies. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Case studies ( fast )

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Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 120-131).
General Note:
School of Education and Human Development
Statement of Responsibility:
by Samuel R. Batey.

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University of Colorado Denver
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ocm42614029
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Full Text
A CASE STUDY OF ADOLESCENT AFRICAN AMERICAN MALES
AND FACTORS IN RESILIENCY THAT HAVE CONTRIBUTED
TO THEIR DEVELOPMENT AND SCHOOL SUCCESS
by
Samuel R. Batey
B.A. Southern Colorado State College. 1965
M.A. University of Northern Colorado at Greeley, 1975
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation
1999


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Samuel R. Batey
has been approved by
Michael Martin
Sharon Ford
Cherie Lyons


Batey, Samuel Richard (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
A Case Study Of Adolescent African American Males And Factors In Resiliency That
Have Contributed to Their Development And School Success.
Thesis directed by Professor Michael Martin
ABSTRACT
The primary purpose of this qualitative research was to explore the factors in resilience
that have contributed to the success of adolescent African American males, and
attempt to identify so-called protective factors, or those conditions that foster
resiliency in Black males despite the negative odds they free. This research examined
how resiliency and the protective factors in the family, school, and the community can
afreet the young Black males ability to succeed. The researcher selected a qualitative
case study approach to focus on the developmental tasks of adolescent African
American males. The study also focuses on: the environmental risks that confront
them, evidence of resilience in light of the risks faced, and explanations for the
observed adaptation, and implications for the education of young African American
males.
The site for this qualitative case study was Metropolitan Community, a community
under adverse circumstances in the city of Denver. The study explored four
adolescent African American males who live in the Metropolitan Community where
poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are commonplace,
and high stress can affect home and school environments, as well as family functioning.
Nonetheless, the four young men in this study developed adaptive and coping
strategies to overcome these adverse circumstances.
The traditional qualitative data collection of interviewing, observing, transcribing and
analyzing were employed in this case study. The field notes included personal contact
with school personnel and community members along with interviews with the young
mens parents.


The findings from the study strongly suggest that the protective factors identified with
resiliency were clearly factors in the four African American male students. The
findings revealed they had positive relationships with their families, friends, and other
adults in their lives. Furthermore, they were socially competent, and effective
problem-solvers, who were able to negotiate through a web of adversity at their
school and in their neighborhood.
Future research could study how resiliency and the protective factors can prevent the
escalating cycles of deviance and dysfunctional behavior of some of our young
African American males.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
its publication.
Signed
IV


DEDICATION
This dissertation is dedicated to all African American males on whom I
may have had some influence during my 28 years in the Denver Public School
System
To my son, and grandson, daughter and granddaughters, and most
importantly, my loving wife, the mother and grandmother of my children and
grandchildren. You give me the strength and pride to carry on.


ACKNOWLEDGMENT
There are many people I would like to thank for the support and
encouragement they have given over the past five years in this Doctoral program.
Without their help, I wouldnt be writing this acknowledgement. Those thanks go to
the professors and staff in the Department of Educational Administration at the
University of Colorado at Denver.
I especially want to thank my dissertation committee. Each of them has played
a very special role in my development as a professional student and educator. They
are: Dr. Michael Martin, who directed this dissertation; and Dr Wayne Carle, Dr.
Lerita Coleman, Dr Sharon Ford, and Dr Cherie Lyons. I also want to thank all of the
participants in my research, especially the four young men and their parents for their
time and their willingness to share their story.
Finally, I want to thank my fellow Doctoral cohort, study partner, writing
companion and soul mate, my wife, Barbara.


CONTENTS
Figures..................................................................xii
Tables...................................................................xiii
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION................................................I
Background of the Problem..............................3
Purpose Statement and Research Questions...............5
Purpose Statement................................6
Research Questions...............................6
Theoretical Framework..................................7
Implications of the Problem............................7
Economic Implications............................8
Social Implications..............................8
Sociocultural Implications.......................9
Political Implications...........................9
Academic Achievement Implications...............10
Methodological Design.................................10
Summary...............................................12
2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE...................................14
Introduction/Background of Problem....................14
Resilience in Individual Development:
Successful Adaptation Despite Risk and Adversity.17
The Nature of Resilience..............................21
vu


Protective Factors Within the Family.....................24
Caring and Support.................................24
High Expectations..................................25
Encourage Childrens Participation.................26
Protective Factors Within the School.....................27
Caring and Support.................................27
High Expectations..................................29
Protective Factors Within the Community..................30
Risk and Resilience: Contextual Influences on the
Development of Adolescent African American Males...32
Development Tasks During Adolescence...............34
Risks and the Development of
African American Adolescents.................35
Eviderce of Resilience in
African American Adolescents.................38
Implications for Educating
African American Adolescents.................40
Conclusions .............................................41
THE RESEARCH METHOD...........................................43
Theoretical Perspectives.................................44
Goals of the Study.......................................44
Site Selection.....................................46
Sample.............................................47
Research Questions.......................................48
Research Purpose and Goals...............................49
Data Collection..........................................52
Interviews...............................................53
Data Analysis and Coding.................................53


Delimitations of the Study..........................55
Limitations of the Study............................55
Summary...................................................56
Conclusion; Qualitative Methods,
Validity, and Reliability...........................57
4. FINDINGS.......................................................59
The Research Setting......................................62
Metropolitan Community..............................62
Metropolitan Community Residents....................62
Metropolitan High School............................67
The Students........................................67
The Staff...........................................68
Case Study Data...........................................70
Case Study #1; Larry......................................71
Larrys Background..................................71
Protective Factors in Family........................72
Protective Factors in School........................72
Protective Factors in the Community.................74
Case Study #2: Terry......................................76
Terrys Background..................................76
Protective Factors in Family........................76
Protective Factors in School........................78
Protective Factors in the Community.................79
Case Study #3: Jasper.....................................81
Jaspers Background.................................81
Protective Factors in Family........................81
Protective Factors in School........................82
IX


Protective Factors in the Community............83
Case Study #4: Steve.................................84
Steves Background.............................84
Protective Factors in Family...................84
Protective Factors in School...................86
Protective Factors in the Community............87
Summary of Case Studies and Early Findings...........87
Conclusion...........................................88
5. THEMES EMERGING FROM ANALYSES OF SUBJECTS................90
Summary of the Methodology...........................91
The Research Questions/Problem.......................92
Emerging Themes: Profile of the Resilient Child......92
Social Competence..............................94
Problem Solving Skills.........................94
Resourcefulness................................95
Adaptation.....................................95
Autonomy.......................................98
Family Effects.................................99
Sense of Purpose and Future...................100
Summary.......................................101
6. SUMMARY, CONCLUSION, RECOMMENDATIONS....................103
Summary of Study....................................103
Summary of Findings.................................104
Conclusions.........................................107
Why Focus on Young Black Males?.....................107
Impediments to the Development of
Black Male Adolescents........................108
x


The Development of Adolescent Black Males............110
Social Behavior................................Ill
Authenticity...................................Ill
Language and Speech............................Ill
Style..........................................112
Implications for Education African American Males....112
Recommendations......................................113
APPENDIX
INTERVIEW GUIDE................................115
REFERENCES...........................................120


Figures
2.1 Profile of the Resilient Child.....................................23
3.1 Protective Factors that Promote Resiliency.........................51
4.1 Profile of a Student with Characteristics of Resiliency.............61
4.2 Characteristics of Students Residing
in Metropolitans New Attendance Area.........................69
Xll


i
Tables
3.1 Connecting Research and Factors
That Play a Significant Role in Resilience...............50
4.1 Denver Crime Report...........................................63
xiii
!
t


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
In her book, Young, Black, and Male in America, Gibbs (1988) states that the
young Black male intrudes on the nations consciousness and appeals to the nations
conscience.
Many of these young people live in urban cities where poverty and
unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are commonplace, and high
stress affects both home and school environments, as well as the functioning of the
family.
From her research, Gibbs (1988) suggests that in some of our poorer, urban
cities, the plight of young Black males is worsening, their pain is growing, and their
anger is escalating. While every other demographic group has made progress in the
last 25 years in terms of the major social indicators, Black males in the 15 to 24 year-
old age group have performed less well on five out of six of these social indicators.
More recent data from the 1990 Census and other federal government sources
indicate that, compared to 1970, more Black males are unemployed, assigned to the
juvenile justice system, involved in substance abuse, fathering babies out of wedlock,
and committing suicide (U.S. Department of Commerce 1993a).
Of the problems besetting the poor, inner-city Black community, none is more
pressing than that of interpersonal violence and aggression. It wreaks havoc daily
with the lives of community residents and increasingly spills over into downtown and
residential middle-class areas. Muggings, burglaries, car-jackings, and drug-related
shootings, all of which may leave their victims or innocent bystanders dead, are now
1


common enough to concern all urban and many suburban residents. The inclination
to violence springs from the circumstances of life among the ghetto poor, the lack of
jobs that pay a living wage, the stigma of race, the fallout from rampant drug use and
drug trafficking, and the resulting alienation and lack of hope for the future
(Anderson, 1994). In the article, Code of the Streets, Anderson (1994) suggests
that simply living in such an environment places young people at special risk of
falling victim to aggressive behavior. Although there are often forces in the
community which can counteract the negative influences, by far the most powerful
are a strong, loving, decent,(as inner-city residents put it) family committed to
middle-class values. The despair is pervasive enough to have spawned an
oppositional culture, that of the streets, whose norms are often consciously opposed
to those of mainstream society. As Anderson describes in his article: These two
orientations, decent and street, socially organize the community and their
coexistence has important consequences for residents, particularly children growing
up in the inner-city. Above all, this environment means that even youngsters whose
home lives reflect mainstream values, and the majority of homes in the community
do, must be able to handle themselves in a street-oriented environment. (p.82)
Margaret Wang (1994) states, that as the decade of the 1990s unfolds, the
nation's attention has been captured by the plight of children and families in a variety
of risk circumstances, and by the urgency for interventions that foster resilience and
life chances of all children and youth, and families, particularly those in at-risk
circumstances, such as the inner-city communities. (p.45)
In response to such challenges, a problem begs for analysis. What are the
protective mechanisms that foster healthy development and learning success of
adolescent African American males?
2


Background of the Problem
To be African American and male in school and society places one at risk for
a variety of negative consequences. Although a number of African American males
have made it into the mainstream of society and contribute significantly to the
national labor force, the residual effects of200 years of enslavement and another 100
years of legal discrimination cannot be denied. Particularly distressing are the
multiplicity of problems facing adolescent males in urban Americaproblems that
are too often manifested as gang activity, negative peer pressure, anti-school attitudes,
and drug trafficking. Historically, however, African American males have played an
integral part in the lives of their families and communities. This conclusion is based
on the common experiences of ordinary African males in schools and families who
lead ordinary lives in stable families and communities. Their unheralded lives and
experiences daily contradict the widely held contemporary notion that a viable and
adaptive population of African American men fail to develop and flourish in Black
communities across the U.S. (Polite, 1995).
At the core of the African American males experience in school and
society is a record of persistence and triumph that has been overshadowed by
the literature and discourse focusing primarily on the social pathology of
African American men. While many African American males are achieving at
commendable levels and are navigating the academic and social currents of
their lives, young African American males, as a group, remain at risk for
numerous social, economic, and education ills. (Davis, 1995). Gibbs (1988)
poses the question: Who are these Black youth who are increasingly subjected
to the belated scrutiny of social scientists, educators, policy makers, and the
mass media? Gibbs (1988) describes them as follows: They are Black males
in the 15- to 24-year-old age group who live predominantly in urban inner-city


neighborhoods, but also can be found in rural areas, working-class suburbs,
and small towns all over America. They are the teenagers and young adults
from famihes at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum, many of whom
are welfare-dependent and live below the poverty line. They are the Black
youth who are seen when one drives through inner-city ghetto neighborhoods,
hanging out on dimly lit street comers, playing basketball on Uttered school
lots, selling dope in darkened alleys, and rapping in front of pool halls and
bars. The media refer to them by a variety of labels: dropouts,
delinquents, dope addicts, street-smart dudes, welfare pimps, and even
more pejoratively, as members of the underclass. They refer to themselves
as home boys, hardheads, bloods, and soul brothers.
Gibbs (1988) suggests that Black males are portrayed by the mass media in a
limited number of roles, most of them deviant, dangerous, and dysfunctional. This
constant barrage of predominantly disturbing images inevitably contributes to the
publics negative stereotypes of Black men, particularly those who are perceived as
young, hostile, and impulsive.
The disproportionate involvement of Black males in criminal and delinquent
activities has been reported on and analyzed by a number of researchers since the
early 20th century. Many contemporary scholars focus on what has been construed
and is now generally perceived as a crime wave whose major protagonists are
young Black males. Recent statistical analysis of Black male criminality is
dominated by documentation of the proliferation of homicides of and by young Black
males in which firearms were involved (Fingerhut, Ingram, & Feldman, 1992).
Statistics on Black male crime and incarceration are standard and are a prominently
featured portion of most popular and scholarly treatments of the dilemmas facing
poor Black males and the communities in which they live.
4


However, this researcher looked at the successful young men in those same
communities and asked two questions: What are the protective mechanisms that
foster healthy development and learning success of adolescent African American
males? What are the factors in resiliency that have contributed to school success for
the adolescent African American male?
The literature reveals that Black males are arrested for committing crimes at a
substantially higher rate than are their White male counterparts (Mauer, 1994). In
1989,23 percent of Black males between the ages of 20 and 29 had come in contact
with the U.S. criminal justice system (Mauer, 1994). According to U.S. Department
of Commerce (1993a) statistics for 1991, 29 percent of all persons arrested for serious
crime, more than 50 percent of those arrested for murder and robbery, and 50 percent
of all prisoners executed were Black. Mauer (1994) further notes that Blacks made
up 44 percent of all prisoners and 40 percent of those on death row in 1989. Indeed,
the number of African Americans incarcerated in the U.S. exceeds the number
enrolled in its institutions of higher education, and costs the nations taxpayers an
estimated $8.9 billion per year (Mauer, 1994, p.83).
The purpose of this study is to investigate how African American males
become not merely problem free, but also confident and competent despite living in
adversity.
Purpose Statement and Research Questions
This study will examine through qualitative case study research the following
purpose statement and research questions:
5


Purpose Statement
Why are some adolescent African American males, who live in urban settings
where poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are
commonplace, and high stress affects both home and school environments, more
resilient than others and are able to cope successfully in school and in the
community?
Research Questions
1. What are the protective mechanisms that foster healthy development
and learning success of selected adolescent African American males?
2. What are the factors in resiliency that have contributed to school
success for selected adolescent African American males?
After decades of relying primarily on pathology/cultural deviance theories,
research on Black adolescents is now turning to an exploration of the sources and
mechanisms that underlie competent and healthy functioning (Jones, 1989; McKenry,
Everett, Ramseur, & Carter, 1989; Spencer, Brookins, & Allen, 1985). One
motivation for the shift is the search for solutions to the problems of African
American youths. Another reason is the desire to broaden knowledge about this
population across biological, psychosocial, and ecological domains (Bell-Scott &
Taylor, 1989).
This qualitative study examined the developmental tasks of adolescent
African American males, the major environmental risks that confront African
American males, evidence of resilience in light of the risks faced, and explanations
for the observed adaptation, and implications for the education of African American
males.
6


Theoretical Framework
The study explored, and identified so-called protective factors or those
conditions that foster resiliency in the Black male despite the negative odds they face.
Benard (1992) describes a resilient child as one who is socially competent, self-
efficacious, and an effective problem-solver who is able to negotiate through a web of
adversity. Benard (1992) indicates that the following protective factors present in the
family, school, and community serve as buffers against those variables that put
children at risk of unhealthy behavior such as violence: a positive, caring relationship
with an adult, high expectations for behavior and abilities, and opportunities for
meaningful participation and involvement.
A phrase occurring often in the literature sums up the resilient child as one
who works well, plays well, loves well, and expects well. (Garmezy, 1974; Werner
& Smith, 1982). This study will use the Benard Framework in examining resilience
in African American males.
Implications of the Problem
Along with limited education, the major social and economic problems of
young African American males clearly demonstrate that they are an endangered
group and a population at risk for an escalating cycle of deviance, dysfunction, and
despair (Jones, 1989). What are the implications of these problems, if they are left
unsolved, for Black males, Black families, and the larger society?
Gibbs (1988) suggests the major implications can be projected in five areas:
economic, social, socioculture, political, and academic.
7


Economic Implications
Demographers predict that non-White youth (80 percent of whom will be
Black) will constitute 20 percent of the youth population under age 17 by the year
2000 and 23 percent by 2020 (Ozawa, 1986). Similarly, 16 percent of the labor force
in the 16- to 24-year-old age group will be non-White by 2000. In fact, the net
increase in the labor force between 1985 and 2000 will come primarily from non-
Whites, immigrants, and women, with native non-White males constituting 8 percent
of the labor force in 2000. Moreover, an increasing proportion of these non-White
workers, particularly Blacks and Hispanics, will be recruited from disadvantaged
backgrounds from which they have experienced poverty, school failure, and minimal
work experience (U.S. Dept, of Labor, 1987).
Social Implications
What is the relationship, if any, between the alarming increase in female-
headed households among Blacks and the statistics on Black male unemployment?
Wilson and Neckerman (1984) presented a well-documented scholarly analysis
concerning this relationship. After examining demographic trends in employment
and in family patterns since before World War H, they concluded that the increase in
female-headed households is strongly associated with the deteriorating status of Black
males in the labor market. They show, for example, that participation of Black males
in the labor force declined from 84 percent in 1940 to 67 percent in 1980, and more
recently to 62.4 percent in 1993 (Homor, 1995).
Wilson and Neckerman (1984) also point out that the historical relationship
between unemployment and marital instability has been consistently found for Black
and White families. Moreover, they have also devised a male marriageable pool
index, which is the number of employed, single civilian men to the number of single
women of the same race and age group. If Black males between 16 and 24 who are
8


unemployed, incarcerated, or victims of homicide or suicide are subtracted, this index
shows a sharp decline in the ratio of Black males to Black females since the 1960s.
The significant point is that there has been an absolute long-term decline in
the proportion of young Black men who are both available and eligible to support a
family. Wilson and Neckerman (1984) make a compelling argument that this
imbalance in the pool of young Black, marriageable men results in higher rates of
out-of-wedlock births, because so many of these young men are not able, nor willing,
to support a family.
Sociocultural Implications
One of the major consequences of lack of education and lack of employment
among young Black males is their disproportionate involvement in the juvenile
justice system, which results in severe limitations on their future educational and
occupational opportunities; creates a vicious cycle of delinquency, incarceration, and
recidivism; and results in an adult lifestyle of chronic criminality or chronic
unemployment and marginal social adaptation. Scholars have debated for many years
as to whether these behaviors reflect a culture of poverty, a dysfunctional Black
family structure, or behavioral responses to socioeconomic forces.
Despite scholarly efforts to reconceptualize the structure and functioning of
the low-income Black family, it is both naive and dangerous to ignore the symptoms
of social disorganization, frustration, and social alienation in the inner-city ghettos.
The lifestyle of antisocial behaviors, drug addiction, exploitative and hostile
relationships with women, confrontational relationships with police and other
authorities, and very high-risk activities is also a major concern for Black males
living in the inner-city ghettos. These attitudes and activities may well be individual
and/or collective responses to deny these Black males access to equal opportunity and
social mobility.
9


!
Political Implications
Gibbs (1988) states that the implications of a potential disaffected and
dysfunctional underclass, located in the rapidly expanding urban areas of the nation,
are truly disturbing. If this trend is not reversed, these young Black males might very
well find themselves in a second period of involuntary servitude, only this time it
would be based on involuntary dependence on, and subjugation to, government social
welfare programs. She continues to say that urban ghettos are rapidly becoming
welfare plantations, cut off from the vital urban centers of culture and commerce by
inadequate transportation, lack of an economic base, and lack of political power.
Academic Achievement Implications
African American students continue to lag well behind Whites in key
measures of academic achievement, including SAT scores, reading proficiency, and
college enrollment (Hill, 1990). Social scientists and educators have focused on the
lack of success of children of color for generations, yet there is a dearth of research
focusing on achievement within the African American population. Explaining why
some African American students do well in school while others do poorly remains
one of the most important and controversial problems in public education today
(Cummings, 1974).
Methodological Design
As the year 2000 approaches, the nations attention must focus on the plight of
children and families in a variety of risk circumstances, and the urgency for
interventions that foster resilience and life chances of all children and youth.
Problems of great severity exist for many children, youth, and families, particularly
those in at-risk circumstances, such as the inner-city communities where many of our
young Black males live. The quality of life available to children and families in these
10


communities is threatened by a perilous set of modem morbidities that often involve
poverty, lack of employment opportunities, disorderly and stressful environments,
poor health care, children borne by children, and highly fragmented patterns of
service. In responding to such challenges, the researcher refers back to an earlier
question: What are the factors that strengthen the resources and protective
mechanisms for fostering healthy development and learning success of children and
youth?
The context of this study, school success, resiliency, and the adolescent
African American nude, will lead to an investigation of the likelihood of success in
school and in other life accomplishments, despite environmental adversities brought
about by early traits, conditions, and experiences.
The site for this qualitative case study is a high school in the Denver Metro
community where poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes
are commonplace, and high stress affects home and school environments, as well as
family functioning. The subjects are graduates from the classes of 1997 and 1998.
The study examined the resilience, schooling, and development in these
young men. Since there is a deep and growing concern over substance use and crime
by young Black males of this age group, and the over representation of this group in
the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems, my research will be directed at
adolescent Black males who have overcome the odds.
The qualitative data collection for this study involved observing and
interviewing. LeCompte & Preissle (1993) state that the most common categories of
data collection used by ethnographic and qualitative researchers are observation,
interviewing, researcher-designed instruments, and content analysis of human
artifacts. The data collection used by this researcher was observation and
interviewing.
11


Strauss and Corbin (1990) identify the three major components for qualitative
research as data, analytic or interpretive procedures, and written and verbal reports.
The field notes collected in this study included personal contacts, observations and
interviews with the young men and with their parents, teachers, and residents who
live in the community.
A middle school in the Metropolitan Community was selected to identify ten
Black males who were successful academically and socially while attending middle
school. They were young men, who the middle school personnel felt would be
successful at any high school they attended, even though they come from a
neighborhood where poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent
crimes are commonplace, and high stress affects both home and school environments.
The main criteria were that the young men had lived in the Metropolitan Community
since early childhood and had overcome the odds to be successful in middle school
and high school. I will discuss more about the selection of the participants and the
criteria that were used in Chapter 3.
The stakes and findings of the inquiry are great. Given peoples increasing
willingness to think about, understand and address the impact of violence on the lives
of Black male children, what can we learn about the capacity to bounce back that can
help us bolster strengths in young people, families, schools, and communities? These
were big questions, but the hope for this study was to find new ways of strengthening
individual children and families by increasing our understanding of endurance,
prevention, and adaptation.
Summary
Resilience is a wonderful word, deriving as it does from the Latin resilire,
meaning to jump or spring back.
12


In considering resilience, it is useful to remember a few key concepts: risk
and protective factors, stress, coping, adaptation, and prevention. Studies of
resilience focused originally on childrens experiences with particular kinds of
stresses: natural disasters, wars, concentration camps, divorce, living with a parent
with a severe psychiatric disorder, severe adjustment difficulties that can manifest
themselves in alternative engagement and disruption in schools; chronic illness, and
maternal deprivation. The literature suggests that there are two different kinds of
variables that contribute to resilience. One has to do with individual dispositions
the individual neurology, intelligence, and temperament with which we are bom. The
other category of variables reflects our social environmentthe families into which
we are bom and the social setting in which we live.
The importance of this research was to examine and explain how resiliency
and the protective factors in the family, school, and the community can affect the
young Black males ability to succeed. My hope was that this study would explain
how resiliency and the protective factors could prevent the escalating cycles of
deviance and dysfunctional behavior of young African American males. However, it
is unlikely that the findings in this study will be able to show immediate results in the
mitigation of youth criminal activities. It was necessary, however, to examine
protective factors and the process of resilience and their roles in interventions with
selected adolescents so that they will be better equipped to deal with the realities that
they will face as they enter their young adult years.
13


CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
This chapter examines the literature and the research related to fostering
resiliency in the African American males and the protective factors in the family,
school, and community. The literature review will also examine developmental tasks
of adolescent African American males and prevention strategies that strengthen
protective factors in the families, schools, and communities of the young African
American male.
Introduction/Background of Problem
Along with limited education, the major social and economic problems of
young African American males clearly demonstrate that they are an endangered
group and a population at risk for an escalating cycle of deviance, dysfunction, and
despair (Jones, 1989). Many of these young people live in major urban cities where
poverty, and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are
commonplace, and high stress affects both home and school environments, as well as
the functioning of the family (McLoyd, 1989).
A question that should be asked and studied: What are the implications of
these problems, if they are left unsolved for Black males, Black families, and the
larger society?
The literature suggests that the Black community is now reaping the bitter
harvest of decades of neglect of the plight of its young people, by national policies
that have failed to eradicate their poverty, failed to equip them with education for an
information society, and failed to replace discriminatory barriers with equal
14


opportunity. The result is that young Black males, as Gibbs (1988) suggests, have
become an endangered species, with more young Black men added each year to the
ranks of the poor, the jobless, and the homeless. The impact on the Black family, the
Black economy, and on individual lives has been devastating.
Walter Gill (1995) suggests that African American males are in a war, and
that war is becoming a nightmare for the general society. As a group, these men are
losing in their efforts to grow and survive in this society. In urban America this
group has taken the brunt of the blows if statistics are the measure. The disparities
between African American males and other males in the population are appalling in
employment, real income, and those living at or near the poverty level.
Black teenagers face an unemployment rate of 57 percent and unprecedented
levels of poverty while impoverishment and hunger become the rule of the day. But
what sets Black youth off from their White counterparts is that the preferred method
of containing White teenagers is through constitutional controls exercised through
schooling where working-class youth suffer the effects of school choice programs,
tracking, and vocationalization. On the other hand, Black youth are increasingly
subjected to the draconian strategies of tagging surveillance, or more overt
harassment and imprisonment through the criminal justice system (Parenti, 1994).
Recent statistics based on 1995 Justice Department figures reveal the full scope of
this policy by indicating that one in three Black men in their 20s is either imprisoned,
on probation, or under the supervision of the criminal justice system on any given day
in America (Butterfield, 1996).
Homicide for African American males, ages 15 to 24, is the leading cause of
death; they suffer higher death rates from heart disease, strokes, cancer, liver
15


In his commentary, Discipline and Demographics (Casserly, 1996) writes
that the days before Washington hosted the Million Man March in 1996 and the
"National African American Leadership Summit in the fell of 1995, the U.S.
Department of Justice released a report showing that one-third of the African
American men between the ages of 20 and 29 are in the criminal justice system, either
in prison or in jail awaiting trial, on probation, or paroled. Unfortunately, Americas
schools helped put many of them where they are. How? The process is well known.
It starts on a childs first day of school and continues subtly throughout his or her
academic career. School children are tracked, sorted, labeled, and pigeonholed.
Some are chronically detained, expelled, suspended, or removed. Either they are
pushed out, or they are graduated, knowing little. Either way, they have failed and
have been failed (Casserly, pp. 16-20).
Casserly suggests that the honing process creates public schools that look very
much like demographic prisons, with the least preferred children holding the short
straw, and with the career path between schools and prisons becoming all too direct.
The process is grounded in our ofien-subliminal perceptions of children according to
race, class, religion, sex, disability, and demeanor, and is acted out by teachers,
administrators, and others. Then, it is legitimized with arguments for greater
discipline and instructional serenity.
The Polite (1995) article, The Method in the Madness: African American
males, avoidance schooling, and chaos theory, examines the social context of
schooling of a cohort of 115 African American males who attended a mid-westem
high school. He drew upon elements of chaos theory, a construct emerging from the
field of quantum physics; it explores the systematic methods of avoidance schooling
behaviors invoked by these students. Polite suggested that the chaos theory seems
16


I
particularly helpful in that it provides a holistic framework for explaining the
impactof pervasive and possibly harmful patterns of institutional, group, and
individual behaviors imbedded within disordered school systems.
Polite concludes his article by suggesting the most disconcerting dilemma
facing urban educationalists today is the lack of effective strategies for changing the
poor educational and social outcomes of the African American males who attend
public schools across the nation. His article highlighted the reclusive patterns of
avoidance schooling which collectively resulted in widespread underpreparation for a
cohort of African American males and a climate of seemingly unexplainable chaos at
one public high school.
However, the literature explains the growing body of international, cross-
cultural, longitudinal studies that provide scientific evidence that many youth, even
those with multiple and severe risks in their lives, can develop into confident,
competent, and caring adults (Werner & Smith, 1992); and discusses the critical role
schools can play in this process.
Resilience in Individual Development:
Successful Adaptation Despite Risk and Adversity
Understanding resilience requires that obstacles to adaptation be understood
and that the standard for, or definition o£ adaptive behavior be delineated.
Adaptation in the study of resilience, as in the study of developmental
psychopathology, is defined in terms of the attainment of psychosocial milestones
called developmental tasks (Masten & Braswell, 1991). Developmental tasks
represent broadly defined standards or expectations for behavior at various points in
the life span. Resilience in an individual refers to successful adaptation despite risk
and adversity.
17


Three major studies of resilience were conducted during the 1970s and 1980s.
These studies (Garmezy & Rutter, 1983; Murphy & Moriarity, 1976; Werner &Smith,
1982) examined several personal variables in relation to resilience. In general, results
indicated that a number of personal variables were related to resilience.
These variables included sensitivity, sociability, inner control,
cooperativeness, and cognitive superiority. However, these findings were based
mostly on clinical observations and anecdotes, with some of the findings based on
data from surveys and standardized instruments.
Two more contemporary works on resilience in youth and adolescents have
been published recently (Luthar, 1991; Winfield, 1991). These studies represent an
improvement over past studies in several respects. For example, the Luthar (1991)
study was more systematic than were past studies. It examined personal variables
using more standardized measurements.
The Luthar study contained 144 subjects from the inner-city. The majority of
the students represented three ethnicities. Among these subjects, 45 percent were
African American, 30 percent were Hispanic, and the remaining students were
comprised of Caucasians and others. The mean socioeconomic standing of the
students fell in the second to lowest level of the Hollingshead Two Factor Index
(Hollingshead, 1965). A total of nine students were classified as resilient in the main
analyses. These students met the criterion for resilience: high competence despite
high stress. Another twelve students were considered non-resilient, indicating low
competence and high stress. An additional eleven students comprised another
comparison group of low stress high achievers. As was stated previously, the method
and measurements in the Luthar (1991) study were systematic and standardized. The
multitude of measures was used to discern which of a wide array of variables were
protective and which was vulnerability inducing.
18


The results indicated several important differences between the three groups.
Protective factors are those that moderate the impact of stress on competence; that is,
stress does not have as deleterious an impact on competence when accompanied by
protective factors (Masten et al., 1988). Protective factors that aided the resilient
students included internal locus of control (Nowicki & Strickland, 1973) and social
skills. Surprisingly, vulnerability factors included intelligence and positive life
events. It seems that intelligence made the students more sensitive to their
environment, which adversely interacted with stress.
The Winfield (1991) publication was an edited volume, a special edition of
Education and Urban Society. This publication contained a number of studies of
resilient African American youth. These studies examined such personal variables as
biculturality, academic behaviors, and academic aspirations. These studies also
examined some contextual variables such as peer acceptance, school atmosphere, and
extracurricular activities. One study even examined resiliency in relation to a
situational factor teen motherhood.
One of the greatest obstacles feeing African American students is the feet that
their culture differs from the mainstream culture. Clark (1991) examined resiliency
in the face of this obstacle and found that it can be overcome by taking on a bicultural
identity. This is the process through which some African American students
maintain an identity with some behaviors of their own culture yet allow themselves to
become socialized in the mainstream. These students are able to function acceptably
in both cultures. However, not all students are able to achieve biculturality.
Valentine (1971) described biculturality as the ability to draw simultaneously on
standardized African American group behavior and on behaviors accepted by the
mainstream cultural system. Bicultural people actively participate in both cultures,
have extensive interactions within each environment, and adopt behaviors that allow
them to adjust to a variety of different environmental demands. Biculturation results
19


from socialization in both cultures, which begins at birth and continues throughout
life, (p.42)
One of the most influential studies in the field involved a cohort of children
bom on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai in 1955 and traced over 30 years by Werner
and Smith (Werner, 1982; Werner & Smith, 1982,1992). Based on risk factors
evident in the first two years of life that predicted maladaptive outcomes at 10, 11,
and 18 years of age, about one-third of this cohort was designated high risk because
the children had four or more risk factors. Risk factors included poverty, parental
stress, family discord, and low parental education. About one-third of this high risk
group (10 percent of the cohort) was identified as resilient because group members
had adapted well in childhood and adolescence. As adolescents, these resilient youth
were more responsible, mature, achievement motivated, and socially connected than
their less competent high-risk contemporaries. Early assessments suggested that
these resilient adolescents had a number of early advantages, including good
relationships with their caregivers, more attention and less separation from their
caregivers, less family conflict, exposure to fewer life stressors, and better physical
health.
New programs designed to serve African American males emerge almost
monthly, many in the conceptualization or early implementation stage and
documented only through local new stories (Lacy, 1992). However, a scattering of
empirical evidence and other data are beginning to emerge about the effects of
alternative programs for African American males that have been implemented.
Many current school and community-based programs for African American males
reflect common characteristics (Ascher, 1992). These include (a) male role models
and male bonding, (b) identity creation and self-esteem, (c) academic values and
social skills, (d) parents and community strengthening, (e) transition to manhood, and
(f) a safe haven.
20


The Nature of Resilience
In considering resilience, it is useful to remember a few concepts: risk and
protective factors; stress; coping and adaptation; and prevention. Studies of resilience
focused originally on childrens experiences with particular kinds of stresses: natural
disasters, wars, concentration camps; living with a parent with a severe psychiatric
disorder, severe adjustment difficulties that can manifest themselves in alternative
engagement and disruption in schools; chronic illness; and maternal deprivation. The
literature suggests that there are two different kinds of variables that contribute to
resilience. One has to do with individual dispositions, the individual neurology,
intelligence, and temperament with which we are bom. The other category of
variables reflects our social environment, the families into which we are bom, and the
social settings in which we live.
In recent decades, researchers trying to learn why some children are more
resilient than others have studied numerous cohorts of children in an attempt to
identify so-called protective factors, or those conditions that foster resiliency in young
people despite the negative odds they face (Benard, 1992).
This research examines protective factors that contribute to the development
of young Black males who are exposed to factors that put them at risk of a number of
problems, including delinquency, drug and alcohol abuse, and school failure, but
nonetheless avoid these problems and develop into healthy and successful high school
students.
Bonnie Benard describes a resilient child as one who is socially competent,
self-efficacious, and an effective problem-solver who is able to negotiate through a
web of adversity.
21


Resilient children, described by Garmezy (1974) as working and playing well
and holding high expectations, have often been characterized using constructs such as
locus of control, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and autonomy.
Resilience research validates prior research and theory in human development
that has clearly established the biological imperative for growth and development that
exists in the human organism and that unfolds naturally in the presence of certain
environmental characteristics. We are all bom with an innate capacity for resilience,
by which we are able to develop social competence, problem-solving skills, a critical
consciousness, autonomy, and a sense of purpose (Benard, 1991). See Figure 2.1.
Social competence includes qualities such as responsiveness, especially the
ability to elicit positive responses from others; flexibility, including the ability to
move between different cultures; empathy; communication skills; and a sense of
humor.
Problem-solving skills encompass the ability to plan; to be resourceful in
seeking help from others; and to think critically, creatively, and reflectively.
Autonomy is having a sense of ones own identity and an ability to act
independently and to exert some control over ones environment, including a sense of
task mastery, internal locus of control, and self-efficacy. The development of
resistance (refixsing to accept negative messages about oneself) and of detachment
(distancing oneself from dysfunction) serve as powerful protectors of autonomy.
Lastly, resilience is manifested in having a sense of meaning and purpose and
a belief in a bright fixture, including goal direction, educational aspirations,
achievement motivation, persistence, hopefulness, optimism, and spiritual
connectedness.
From Benards research on resilience (1991), from the literature on school
effectiveness (Comer, 1984; Edmonds, 1986; Rutter, 1979), and from a rich body of
22


Figure 2.1
Profile of the Resilient Child
Category of Resilience Characteristic
Social Competence Responsive Flexible Empathetic and caring Communicates well Has sense of humor
Problem Solving Skills Has good critical thinking skills Has good planning skills Flexible Imaginative Resourceful/takes initiative Insightful
Autonomy Self-esteem, self-efficacy Control over environment Self-aware Sense of mastery Adaptive distancing Independent
Sense of Meaning and Purpose Special interest Goal directed Educational aspirations Achievement motivations Persistent Hopeful and optimistic Compelling future Faith/spiritual Coherence/meaningfulness
Adapted from: Benard, B. (1991). Fostering Resiliency in Kids: Protective Factors in the Family, Schools, and Community, San Francisco: Western Regional Center for Drug-Free Schools and Communities.
23


ethnographic studies in which we hear the voices of youth, families, and teachers
explaining their successes and failures (Heath & McLaughlin, 1993; Weis & Fine,
1993); a clear picture emerges of those characteristics of the family, school, and
community which enable individuals to circumvent life stressors and manifest
resilience despite risk. These protective factors or protective processes can be
grouped into three major categories: caring and supportive relationships, positive and
high expectations, and opportunities for meaningful participation. In this literature
review and later chapters, I discuss the three categories within the framework of the
family, the school, and the community and how it correlates to the study of resilience,
school success, and the African American male.
Protective Factors Within the Family
From the literature, what clearly emerges as a powerful predictor of the
outcome for children and youth is the quality of the immediate caregiving
environment, which is determined by the following characteristics:
Caring and Support
What is evident from nearly all the research into the family environments of
resilient children is that, despite the burden of parental psychopathology, family
discord, or chronic poverty, most children identified as resilient have had the
opportunity to establish a close bond with at least one person (not necessarily their
mother or father) who provided them with stable care and from whom they received
adequate and appropriate attention dining the first year of life (quote from Werner,
1990).
According to Feldman, Stiffman, and Jung, The social relationships among
family members are by far the best predictors of childrens behavioral outcomes
(1987). Furthermore, Rutters research found that even in cases of an extremely
24


troubled home environment, a good relationship with one parent (defined in terms
of the presence of high warmth and absence of severe criticism) provides a
substantial protective effect. Only one-fourth of the children in the troubled families
studied by Rutter showed signs of conduct disorder if they had a single, good
relationship with a parent, compared to three-fourths of the children who lacked such
a relationship (1979).
High Expectations
Research into why some children growing up in poverty still manage to be
successful in school and in young adulthood has consistendy identified high parental
expectations as the contributing factor (Williams & Komblum, 1985; Clark, 1983).
A number of investigations (Clark, 1983, Greenberg & Davidson, 1972) have
examined high- and low-achieving, economically disadvantaged African American
pre-adolescents and adolescents. The high-achieving subsamples in this work
consisted of individuals who, despite living in poor, inner-city neighborhoods,
managed to do well in school. Several factors appeared to separate high-achieving
from low-achieving students, including the organization of their homes and the nature
of their parenting experiences.
Interpreting these findings, Clark (1983) suggested that the parents of high
achieving adolescents appear more likely to employ authoritative parenting practices
in the home rather than the parents of low-achieving adolescents. Authoritative
parenting involves a constellation of behavior. Similarly, in a sample of younger
children, Scheinfeld (1983) found that parents of high achievers encouraged self-
motivation, autonomy, and engagement of the environment, whereas parents of low
achievers discouraged autonomy and engagement of the environment. The processes
underlying these differences in parental behavior, such as parent personality
25


differences or differences attributable to the social environment experienced by the
family deserve further attention.
Similarly, the work of Mills (1990) with parents living in an impoverished
housing project in Miami demonstrated the power of a parental attitude that sees
clearly the potential for maturity, common sense, for learning and well-being in their
children. According to Mills, an attitude expressed to a youth that, You have
everything you need to be successful and you can do it, played a major role in the
reduction of several problem behaviors, including substance abuse, in this
disadvantaged community.
Furthermore, families that establish high expectations for their childrens
behavior from an early age play a role in developing resiliency in their children.
Norma Haan, whose research on the development of morality in young children,
clearly challenges prior assumptions of Freud, Piaget, and Kohlberg that young
children are morally deficient, i.e., self-serving, writes, Young children have the
same basic moral understandings and concerns as adolescents and young adults,
(1989).
Encourage Childrens Participation
A natural outgrowth of having high expectations for children is that they are
acknowledged as valued participants in the life and work of their family. Research
has borne out that the family background of resilient children is usually characterized
by many opportunities for the children to participate and contribute in meaningful
ways. For example, Werner and Smith found that assigned chores, domestic
responsibilities (including care of siblings), and even part-time work to help support
the family proved to be sources of strength and competence for resilient children
(1982). When children are given responsibilities, the message is clearly
26


communicated that they are worthy and capable of being contributing members of the
family.
In addition to holding high expectations of children (i.e., that they will
succeed in school and become good citizens in their community), households that are
structured and employ consistent discipline, rules, and regulations produce better
outcomes among children from at-risk families (Bennett, Woling, & Reiss, 1988).
Protective Factors Within the School
In the last decade the literature on the power of the school to influence the
outcome for children from high-risk environments has burgeoned (Austin, 1991;
Brook, 1989; Cauce & Srebnik, 1990; Rutter, 1984; Rutter, 1979, Berruelta-Clement,
1984; Coleman & Hoffer, 1987; Comer, 1984; Nelson, 1984; Offord, 1991; Felner,
1985; Ziegler, 1989; Edmunds, 1986). The evidence demonstrating that a school can
serve as a protective shield to help children withstand the multiple vicissitudes that
they can expect of a stressful world abounds, whether it is coming from a family
environment devastated by alcoholism or mental illness or from a poverty-stricken
community environment, or both (Garmezy, 1991). Furthermore, both protective
factor research and research on effective schools clearly identify the characteristics of
schools that provide this source of protection for youth. And, what was found was
most interesting; they parallel the protective factors found in the family environments
of resilient youth!
Caring and Support
Just as in the family arena, the level of caring and support within the school is
a powerful predictor of positive outcome for youth. While according to Werner,
Only a few studies have explored the role of teachers as protective buffers in the
27


!
lives of children who overcome great adversity, these few do provide moving
evidence of this phenomenon, (1990).
While the importance of the teacher as caregiver cannot be overemphasized, a
factor often overlooked that has definitely emerged from protective factor research is
the role of caring peers and friends in the school and community environments.
Research into the resilience of street gamins clearly identifies peer support as
critical to the survival of these youth (Felsman, 1989). The academic achievement of
at-risk students is the product not only of a childs intellectual ability, but also the
schools climate and the social support networks available from families. Clark
(1991) stated that after the family, peers are the most important source of support.
Social support networks from peers provide children and adolescents with a sense of
being valued, cared for, and loved. These support networks not only facilitate the
development of an individual, but also serve as a protective shield against stress.
Similarly, Werner found caring friends a major factor in the development of
resiliency in her disadvantaged population (Werner & Smith, 1982). Coleman (1987)
cites the positive outcomes for youth who have lived with their peers in boarding
schools when their families were no longer able to be supportive. And, convincing
evidence for the role of peers in reducing alcohol and drug use are the findings of two
meta-analyses (comparing the effects of more than 200 studies) that concluded peer
programs (including cooperative learning strategies) are the single, most effective
school-based approach for reducing alcohol and drug use in youth (Tobler, 1986;
Banger-Drowns, 1988).
Obviously, resilient youth are those youth who have and take the opportunity
to fulfill the basic human need for social support, caring, and love. If this is
unavailable to them in their immediate family environments, it is imperative that the
school and other community agencies provide the opportunities to develop caring
relationships with both adults and other youth.
I
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High Expectations
As with the family environment, research has identified that schools that
establish high expectation for all kids, and give them the support necessary to achieve
them, have incredibly high rates of academic success (Rutter, 1979; Brook, 1989;
Edmonds, 1986; O'Neil, 1991; Leven, 1988; Slavin, Kanweit, and Madden, 1989).
Probably the most powerful research supporting a school ethos of high expectations
as a protective shield was reported by Rutter et al. (1979). In his compelling book,
Fifteen Thousand Hours, psychiatrist Michael "Rutter found that even within the same
poverty-stricken areas of London, some schools showed considerable differences in
rates of delinquency, behavioral disturbance, attendance and academic attainment
(even after controlling for family risk factors). The successful schools, moreover,
appeared to share certain characteristics: academic emphasis, teachers clear
expectations and regulations, high level of student participation, and many varied
alternative resources: library facilities, vocational work opportunities, art, music, and
extracurricular activities. A major critical finding was that the relationships between
a schools characteristics and student behavior increased over time; that is, the
number of problem behaviors experienced by a youth decreased over time in the
successful schools and increased in the unsuccessful schools. Rutter concluded,
Schools that foster high self-esteem and that promote social and scholastic success
reduce the likelihood of emotional and behavioral disturbance. Rutters studies have
also shown the differences between schools account for less of the variance of
scholastic attainment than did features of the family or home. However, this may
result from the fact that there is a bigger difference between the best and worst
home than between the best and worst school. If schools vary in quality less than
do homes (as is probably the case), then their statistical effect on childrens
attainment will also appear less.
29


Discussions of the risk factors for school failure focus on two sets of
variables. One is individual student behaviors and characteristics, such as lack of
engagement in instructional and co-curricular activities, poor performance on
classroom tasks and achievement tests, poor attendance, using alcohol and drugs, and
having a child. The second set embraces environmental characteristics. Family
indicators, including family poverty and marital status of parents, are cited frequently,
as well as school policies and practices, such as tracking, retention in the early grades,
and low teacher expectations of African American students. How these factors
contribute to school failure has been the subject of numerous research and policy
reports (Fine, 1988; Natriello, McDill, & Pallas, 1990).
Protective Factors Within the Community
As with the other two arenas in which children are socialized, the family and
the school, the community which supports the positive development of youth is
promoting the building of the traits of resiliency-social competence, problem-solving
skills, autonomy, and a sense of purpose and future. Community psychologists refer
to the capacity of a community to build resiliency as community competence
(Iscoe, 1974). And once again, as with the family and the school systems, competent
communities are characterized by the triad of protective factors that Benard (1991)
speaks to as: caring and support, high expectations, and participation. Benard also
identified three characteristics of communities that foster resilience. Including,
availability of social organizations that provide an array of resources to residents;
consistent expression of social norms so that community members understand what
constitutes desirable behavior; and, opportunities for children and youth to participate
in the life of the community as valued members. Hill, Wise and Shapiro (1989)
emphasized the role of communities as key contributors in the revitalization of foiling
urban school systems. They believe that troubled urban school systems can only
30


recover when the communities that they serve unite in decisive effort to improve their
performance.
A competent community, therefore, must support its families and schools,
have high expectations and clear norms for its families and schools, and encourage
the active participation and collaboration of its families and schools in the life and
work of the community. According to Kelly, The long-term development of the
competent community depends upon the availability of social networks within the
community that can promote and sustain social cohesion within the community ...
That is, the formal and informal networks in which individuals develop their
competencies and which provide links within the community are a source of strength
(i.e., health and resiliency) for the community and the individuals comprising it,
(1988). (p.14)
Perhaps the most obvious manifestation of caring and support at the
community level is the availability of resources necessary for healthy human
development: health care, child-care, housing, education, job training, employment,
and recreation. According to most researchers, the greatest protection we could give
children is ensuring them and their families access to these basic necessities
(Gannezy, 1991; SamerofE, 1984; Long & Vaillant, 1989; Wilson, 1987; Coleman,
1987; Hodgkinson, 1987). Conversely, the greatest risk factor for the development of
nearly all problem behaviors is poverty, a condition characterized by the lack of these
resources.
Nettles (1991) states the word community evokes images as different as the
cohesive, village-like neighborhoods that many African American Southerners recall
nostalgically and the faceless mass known in the media as The Black Community.
She says that these and other diverse pictures capture the two most common notions
of community, those of place and social relationships that transcend locales.
However, communities are also characterized by the structure rules, norms, and
31


processes that serve to maintain the community and support its constant individuals
and organizations.
The role of community involvement will be important for this study, just as
schools and families are factors that may contribute to the resiliency of African
American males, a community can either contribute to adverse outcomes in school, or
serve as a protective factor for the young Black male success in school.
Risk and Resilience: Contextual Influences on the
Development of Adolescent African American Males
The literature from resilience research tells us that as the decade of the 1990s
unfolded, the nations attention was captured by the plight of children and families in
a variety of risk circumstances, and by the urgency for interventions that fostered
resilience and life chances of all children and youth. Problems of great severity still
exist for many children, youth, and families, particularly those in at-risk
circumstances, such as the inner-city communities and schools. A future question and
problem that may be examined as it relates to adolescents and particularly adolescent
African American males living in the inner-city communities is: Do youth of this
generation manifest more serious behavioral problems than children of a generation
ago? If so, is it related to the lack of morals and values taught by parents and
teachers; or is it related to the changing racial and ethnic landscape? As I review the
literature, I find that some believe it is related to changing government policies and
dysfunctional households.
In his book, Educating for Character (1991), Lickona has a famous quote
from Theodore Roosevelt:
To educate a person in mind and not in morals, is to educate a
menace to society.
32


Clabaugh (1994) has another view; he suggests that educators do not
command the resources necessary to teach every child civility, so the
prognosis is grim for those who dont learn courtesy and consideration at
home. In the good old days the Singapore solution (whipping a person
with a bamboo cane for punishment) was available for these hard cases, but
this option now has largely been ruled out What has taken its place? Too
often, sermonettes or the pretense of teaching sociopaths conflict resolution.
Predictably the sneering recipients of these social services then lay waste to
everyones safety and learning.
The quality of life available to children and families in the inner-city
communities is threatened by a perilous set of modem morbidities that often involve
poverty, lack of employment opportunities, disorderly and stressful environments,
poor health care, children borne by children, and highly fragmented patterns of
service.
However, the literature identifies the growing body of international, cross-
cultural, longitudinal studies that provides scientific evidence that many youth, even
those with multiple and severe risks in their lives, can develop into confident,
competent, and caring adults. Werner and Smith (1992) discuss the critical role
schools can play in the process.
Data from an Educational Longitudinal Study which were analyzed by
Weishew and Peng (1993) identified variables related to five types of student
behavior misbehavior, violent behavior, substance abuse, preparedness for class, and
classroom behavior.
It was found that, while variables not under school control (such as students
family background, school control, and grade span) are important predictors of
student behavior, some school practices and policies are also significantly associated
with student behavior. Specifically, schools with high-achieving and interested


students; drug/alcohol-free environments; disciplined, structured environments;
positive climates; and involved parents, have fewer behavior problems.
Development Tasks During Adolescence
When individuals are judged to be resilient, the implication is that they have
displayed adaptive behavior despite feeing risks and adversities. Risk factors or
adversities may come in a variety of forms, including parental mental illness,
economic disadvantage, teenage parenthood, chronic illness, criminal behavior, and
delinquency. Indeed, it is possible for individuals to fell into groups having more
than one risk factor (e.g., economically disadvantaged, teenage parent).
Understanding resilience requires that obstacles to adaptation be understood,
and that the standard for, or definition of, adaptive behavior he delineated.
Adaptation in the study of resilience, as in the study of developmental
psychopathology, is defined in terms of the attainment of psychosocial milestones
called developmental tasks (Masten & Braswell, 1991). Developmental tasks
represent broadly defined standards or expectations for behavior at various points in
the life span. Resilience in an individual refers to successful adaptation despite risk
and adversity.
The developmental tasks facing adolescents prepare them to assume adult
roles and responsibilities. According to Steinberg (1990), developmental tasks facing
adolescents are in three areas: (a) intimacy and interpersonal responsibility, (b)
identity and personal responsibility, and (c) achievement and social responsibility.
Intimacy and interpersonal responsibility are important because adolescents, in order
to grow into mature adults, must develop the capacity to competently manage their
interpersonal relations which have implications for how well they function in multiple
domains, including family, work, and leisure.
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The developmental task concerning identity and personal responsibility
involves the need for adolescents to develop a clear sense of their altitudes, values
and beliefs, and the ability to make informed decisions, exercise judgment, and
regulate ones own behavior appropriately, (Steinberg, 1990).
For African American youngsters, particularly adolescent males, the issue of
identity formation has added complexity due to the status of African Americans in
U.S. society. As Spencer and Dombusch (1990) noted, minority adolescents face the
task of developing an identity in the context of a mainstream culture that views the
attributes and values of minority groups as unfavorable. The decision making of
African American adolescents is further complicated because mainstream cultural
values and African American cultural traditions sometimes conflict (Boykin & Toms,
1985).
Risks and the Development of African American Adolescents
The conditions associated with poverty and economic disadvantage are,
perhaps, the environmental factors most challenging to the adaptation of African-
American families and adolescents (Taylor, 1992).
A host of problems linked to poverty and economic hardship currently plague
inner-city life, including high rates of joblessness, crime, drug addiction, teenage
pregnancy, and a general social isolation from mainstream society (Wilson, 1987).
Economic hardship, as it influences family functioning and the nature of
families living conditions, may also affect adolescents capacity to master
developmental tasks. The ability to form satisfying interpersonal attachments may be
at risk, given the nature of parent-child relations in homes where economic resources
are insufficient. McLoyd (1989) noted that children and adolescents of parents
experiencing economic hardship are more likely to be exposed to power-assertive and
punitive discipline practices. These practices may be transferred to the child or
35


adolescent, affecting how they interact with peers. Thus, adolescents may learn
coercive methods of negotiating interpersonal conflicts from the form of parental
discipline or control displayed in the home. Such forms of behavior may not,
however, be popular among the adolescents peers.
Minority status is also a factor that may impede efforts by African American
youngsters to attain expected developmental outcomes. Taylor (1992) explains that
minority status and social class are linked, indeed, untangling the effects of minority
status versus social class status represents a challenge to those studying the
functioning of African American families. He states that although working-class and
middle-class African Americans may not face many of the environmental stresses that
imperil poor adolescents and their families, all African American adolescents must
confront the effects of racial bias and discrimination in the U.S. society. Taylor says
that this bias takes a variety of forms, including (a) daily experiences of
discriminatory behavior from individuals or institutions (or both); and (b) adolescents'
recognition of the political, occupational, and residential restrictions feeing African
Americans.
A number of researchers have recently examined adolescents reactions to
their experiences and awareness of racial bias. For example, Anderson (1990)
discussed the social experiences and behavior of African American males as they
cross into and out of two inner-city communities: one an economically disadvantaged
African American community; the other an integrated community experiencing
gentrification. Andersons analysis clearly reveals that adolescents behavior is
shaped by the nature of the environment they inhabit, and by their perceptions of how
they are viewed (e.g., with fear, suspicion, or apprehension) by those with whom they
interact. For instance, to ward off victimization by others, adolescents may adopt
styles of speech or physical posture that are defensive in nature and designed to
preempt exploitation by others. Conversely, individuals may, because they are aware
36


of the suspicion with which others view them, engage in acts of kindness and
helpfulness aimed at disproving stereotypical characterizations of them as uncivil and
inclined toward criminal behavior. Anderson suggested that the net effect of the
social environment, and the strategies of negotiation the adolescents use, is to clearly
indicate to youth the fragile status they hold in their communities.
Ogbu (1986) discussed African American adolescents perception of their
subordination and exploitation and their impact on their educational performance.
Ogbu suggested that as a consequence of their perception that racial discrimination
limits their social mobility, African American adolescents are more likely to reject
White middle-class values and attitudes in the area of education. School learning is
viewed as a subtractive process with few identifiable benefits, in which individuals
must sacrifice something of their collective sense of identity in adopting the behaviors
and values favored in school.
Ogbu (1986) also argued that as a consequence of their awareness of and
experiences with racial barriers to conventional means of achieving social mobility,
African Americans in inner-cities have responded by developing alternative theories
and strategies for achieving social and economic success. According to this view,
although inner-city African American parents stress the importance of formal
education and conventional jobs, they also consciously or unconsciously teach their
children the value of instrumental competencies of clientship, hustling or other
survival strategies.
All three adolescent developmental tasks are implicated in Ogbus discussion.
The development of skills and social responsibility, identity and personal
responsibility, and intimacy and interpersonal responsibility is clearly relevant. The
experiences and perceptions of adolescents and their family members regarding racial
discrimination and racial barriers may directly influence the conscious and
unconscious commitment of parents and adolescents to the adolescents schooling
37


and to the assumption of mainstream values and behaviors. Further, the adolescent
categories discussed by Ogbu represent ways in which adolescents may rationalize
their identity and self-concept. They represent sets of values, attitudes, and behaviors
that African American adolescents may adopt to help guide them in decision making
in critical areas such as schooling and peer relations. These factors may partially
explain why peers and interpersonal relations, particularly among African American
males, appear more important than school as a source of self-esteem (Hare &
Castenell, 1988).
Evidence of Resilience in African American Adolescents
A number of investigations (Clark, 1983; Greenberg & Davidson, 1972) have
examined high- and low-achieving, economically disadvantaged African American
preadolescents and adolescents. The high-achieving sub-samples in this work
consisted of individuals who, despite living in poor, inner-city neighborhoods,
managed to do well in school. Several factors appear to separate high-achieving from
low-achieving students, including the organisation of their homes and the nature of
their parenting experiences.
Interpreting these findings, Clark (1983) suggested that the parents of high-
achieving adolescents appear more likely to employ authoritative parenting practices
in the home rather than the parents of low-achieving adolescents. Authoritative
parenting involves a constellation of behaviors, including warmth, firm control and
monitoring, and the encouragement of mature behavior. Similarly, in a sample of
younger children, Scheinfeld (1983) found that parents of high achievers encouraged
self-motivation, autonomy, and engagement of the environment, whereas parents of
low achievers discouraged autonomy and engagement of the environment. The
processes underlying these differences in parental behavior, such as parent
I
i
38


personality differences or differences attributable to the social environment
experienced by the family, deserve further attention.
Fordham and Ogbu (1986) reported on strategies that high achievers may
employ to facilitate their schooling. They found evidence that for some African
American adolescents attending school in poor inner-city neighborhoods,
achievement in school is accomplished by cloaking or disguising their efforts, by
forming protective alliances, or by diverting attention away from their efforts.
Fordham and Ogbu (1986) suggested that African American adolescents attending
school in integrated settings may seek to diminish their self-identification as African
Americans in order to sustain their academic strivings.
In other related research on the adjustment of African American males, a
number of writers (Gordon, 1992; Majors & Billson, 1991) suggested that adolescents
commonly adopt and ritualize codes of behavior, speech, and dress, which serve the
function of maintaining and protecting individuals psychological well-being. In this
work it is argued that in the face of racial hostility and discrimination, and lack of
access to mainstream avenues to success and fulfillment, adolescents may create a
system of actions and symbols permitting self-validation.
The research discussed here demonstrates that resilience and adaptation are
common, and that despite economic disadvantage and the awareness of racial
discrimination, adolescents often display behaviors relevant to the mastery of
developmental tasks. The findings offer evidence of adolescents whom, despite their
risk circumstances, perform adequately in school, perceive themselves as self-reliant,
avoid problem or delinquent behavior, and adequately manage their peer relations.
These results also ofier insight into the factors and processes that promote resilience
in African American adolescents. These factors are described as protective factors,
and they appear to moderate the effects of risk factors on adolescent development.
39


Implications for Educating African American Adolescents
It is recognized that schools in inner-cities are being called upon to play an
increasing role in the lives of their students, and that there are real limits to what can
reasonably be expected of schools. It is also clear that the problems and life stresses
facing inner-city families and communities are unprecedented. Wilson (1987) amply
described the problems of poverty, crime, and social isolation that beset our inner-
cities.
Efforts aimed at improving the quality of inner-city schools by, among other
things, increasing parent-school connections (Comer, 1984) have the potential to
benefit youngsters development and adjustment. The success of some of these
ventures is evidenced by the academic gains that children have made, and the
improved social climate for learning seen at the target schools.
There are also other possible benefits of parent-school involvement and
greater school involvement in community affairs. Cochran and Henderson (1990)
showed that interventions aimed at promoting the social networks of African
American families, particularly single-parent families, is associated with better school
performance by children. Parental involvement in schools, such as that depicted in
the work of Comer (1988), would present a unique opportunity to promote parental
social networks that benefit communities, schools, and most importantly, youngsters.
For some families these social networks may help buffer the negative effects of
economic hardship, and enhance parents ability to engage in better parenting
practices. Expanded social networks may also make childrens social and physical
environment safer by placing them in greater contact with other competent adults.
Another implication as it relates to the African American male adolescents is
that educators must recognize that many Black male students must be understood and
cared for in a nontraditional manner. Statistics clearly demonstrate the Eurocentric
40


approaches are typically ineffective with Black children (Vann & Kunjufu, 1993).
Black males unique qualities must be addressed with as much zeal as are the needs
of other groups of special learners. In an attempt to address their unique needs, a
number of special schools for African American males are currently operating
(Ascher, 1992). These schools stress a strong cultural and gender identity and aim to
inoculate Black males against the hostile forces in their environment, and to
empower them as individuals and as members of their communities and society.
Conclusions
The future status of Black men in America depends, in large measure, On
policy and program initiatives aimed at nurturing the development of adolescent
Black males (Mincy, 1994). He argues that empowering young Black males will
require a comprehensive and systematic approach. Black male adolescence needs to
be understood in the context of African and African American culture and norms.
Facilitating healthy Black male adolescent development cannot be done without
support from home and family resources, leadership from educational institutions,
and the careful tapping of the cultural strengths of Black communities.
Normative research on the development of African American children and
adolescents is sorely needed. The manner in which African American adolescents
address developmental tasks has not been a focus in the literature on adolescent
development. Social and educational policy-making is presently handicapped by a
lack of basic information on the social and emotional development of African
American youngsters. For example, as African American adolescents address the
task of rationalizing their identity, they must do so in the context of constant negative
portrayals of African Americans. It is not known how most adolescents reconcile
these negative depictions with their own self-conceptions and maintain high self-
esteem (Spencer & Dombusch, 1990). The means by which adolescents address
41


these tasks have clear implications for their schooling. Adolescents, who are unable
to develop clear personal decisions, lack the skills to successfully manage relations
with peers, and who fail to perceive the relationship between basic academic skill and
social well-being, are educationally at risk. My hope is that this study on resilience
will discover some of those obstacles that affect the development of African
American adolescent males.
Research on resilience must be open to the possibility that adaptive behaviors
come in a variety of forms (Taylor, 1992). Taylor suggests that because adaptive
behavior is largely defined by its environmental context, behaviors that meet the
criterion for resilience may be behaviors that concerned adults would prefer that
adolescents avoid. Taylor states that unless all children and adolescents are exposed
to social environments and behaviors associated with the middle-class attributes
valued in schools, it is folly to expect that all children and adolescents will display
similar behaviors.
Finally, Taylor (1992) argues that there must be only careful application of
resilience research to interventions efforts. There may be a danger, implicit in
research on resilience, of coming to expect extraordinary outcomes from all
individuals facing obstacles to development. Not all individuals or families are
equally equipped to overcome impediments to development. Indeed, there are
obstacles to childrens and adolescents development, such as poverty, for which
intervention at the individual or family level may be counterproductive, and
intervention at the societal level holds the greatest promise for lasting, positive
change.
42


CHAPTERS
THE RESEARCH METHOD
Qualitative research philosophy and a phenomenological ethnographic
approach were used in this study.
Phenomenology is based on the belief that the objective reality of social
institutions, such as family and school, are subjectively experienced by the individual
(Psathas, 1973). These subjective experiences are in turn related to the individuals
external behavior, which for this study, was being successful in school, and staying
out of harms way in the community. Accordingly, the individuals perceptions were
of primary importance in a study of this nature. The phenomenological approach
differs from traditional research methodology in several ways: It avoids the use of
assumptions about the phenomenon under study, avoids reducing complex reality to a
few variables and minimizes the use of instruments that are reactive and that greatly
influence the reality under study. (And) the conclusions of the investigations carried
out are post hoc rather than a priori, (Lancy, 1993).
Historically, educational ethnography has been employed for several
purposes: to describe educational settings and contexts, to generate theory, and to
evaluate educational programs (LeCompte & Preissle, 1993). In educational
ethnography, descriptive data are presented about the activities, the physical
environments, and perceptions of subjects in educational contexts. Though the
formats and methodologies vary, educational ethnographies are characterized as
investigations of a relatively small, well-defined group of people in a specific
geographic area, over an extended period of time, using participant observation as the
43


field. The interpretive description and explanation of the culture, life and social
interactions of the group are the main focus of an educational ethnography which,
according to Spandley (1979), is the the work of describing a culture (p.3.). The
goal is not merely reporting what is observed, but to understand another way of life
from the native point of view ... learning from people. (p.3). The ethnographer is
essentially interested in the meanings of the objects, the activities, and the
relationships of the people of the culture under consideration. Analysis in educational
ethnography is inductive, generative and constructive (LeCompte & Preissle, 1993)
and leads to the development of grounded theory.
Theoretical Perspectives
This study could draw upon several theoretical perspectives in the social
sciences. However, the psychodynamic theory was used for this study.
LeCompte & Preissle (1993) describe this theory as human personality
development and its psychological and cultural determinants. The assumptions that
relate to this theory are: (1) Human behavior and personality development are greatly
influenced by early social and cultural influences, particularly relationships with
parents and siblings. (2) Certain constellations of these traits are recognizable as
ideal types or labels, which characterize individuals or cultures. (3) Identification
of the personality type which characterizes an individual or culture facilitates
prediction of future behavior, and (4) Overt behavior is a manifestation of specific
personality characteristics or traits.
Goals of the Study
In the tradition of social and cultural anthropology, the research I proposed
included an extended period of study in the field. Fieldwork and a focus on
resilience, schooling, and development in adolescent African American males were
the sources upon which my subsequent interpretations were based.
44


The critical considerations guiding this methodology and the questions
were drawn from the literature review. Why are some young Black male
students resilient? And what are the so-called protective factors, or those
conditions that foster resiliency in the Black male despite die negative odds
they face? Benard (1992) indicates that the following protective factors
present in the family, school, and community serve as buffers against those
variables that put children at risk of unhealthy behavior such as violence: a
positive, caring relationship with an adult, high expectations for behavior and
abilities, and opportunities for meaningful participation and involvement.
Preliminary observations and informal conversations with parents, neighbors,
teachers, students, and administrators will also be critical for this study.
The term ethnographic research is used as shorthand rubric for investigations
described variously as ethnography, qualitative research, case study research, field
research, or anthropological research (Smith, 1979). Signithia Fordham (1996)
believes that ethnography and ethnographic methods are the best reporting devices.
In her book, Blacked Out (1993), her fieldwork study focused on the language,
practices, categories, rules, beliefs, and social organization of a bounded culture
group, African Americans and Black adolescents in particular. She suggests that
because in ethnographic studies, the researcher is inseparable from the research
problem, he or she is always a part of the resulting analyses. She argues that as an
American of African descent, she was keenly aware of a latent but powerful aversion
in the Black community to the obligatory school-sanctioned transformation ethos.
Hopefully, being an African American male, who is keenly aware of this aversion in
the Black community, is of benefit to me as a researcher.
Having this type of awareness can also be described as theoretical sensitivity.
Theoretical sensitivity refers to a personal quality of the researcher (Strauss &
45


Corbin, 1990). It indicates an awareness of the subtleties of meaning of data. One
ran come to the research situation with varying degrees of sensitivity depending upon
previous reading and experience with or relevant to an area. It can also be developed
further during the research process.
Theoretical sensitivity refers to the attribute of having insight, the ability to
give meaning to data, the capacity to understand, and capability to separate the
pertinent from that, that is not.
She Selection
Metropolitan High School, the locus of the study, is in inner-city Denver,
where poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are
commonplace, and high stress affects home and school environments, as well as
family functioning. Despite these shortcomings, the Metropolitan Community has
always been a stable community with a lot of history and tradition. Unfortunately, it
is embedded in a section of the city where what is categorized as violent crime is
regularly publicized by the news media. Metropolitan residents are sometimes
perceived negatively by most others in the city. This response, however, is muted
when directed at the students from Metropolitan High School, especially the Anglo
students (who were bused in for integration purposes) who declare with pride that
they attend Metropolitan High. This is true in part because the school had a widely
recognized advanced placement program, and a large number of the Anglo students
were in those classes. The Black students and the community have traditionally
always been very proud of Metropolitan High School.
While this study will take place in a high school, it is not a study strictly about
student academic success. It is a study of success in the Black community.
In order to obtain the most accurate image of the subjects perceptions of
success and their resiliency, this ethnographic study involved hundreds of hours of
46


observation in the naturalistic settings of classrooms, other physical spaces in the
school, and homes and community. It involved the use of open-ended questions in
interview settings to discover the subjects, their parents, and their teachers
perceptions of their talent and school experiences.
Sample
Of the two methods for choosing participants, probabilistic sampling and
criterion-based selection, the most applicable for this study was the criterion-based
selection. Criterion-based selection requires that the researcher establish, in advance,
a set of criteria or a list of attributes that the units for study must possess. The
investigator then searches for exemplars that match the specified array of
characteristics. Some researchers (Manheim, 1977; Patton, 1980) label this as
purposive sampling to distinguish it from probabilistic sampling. The term
purposively applies across selection and sampling procedures and should be
contrasted only with completely haphazard means of selecting data or data sources.
Four African American male students (1997 and 1998 graduates of
Metropolitan High) comprised the sample for this research. Ten candidates were
originally nominated but did not meet the criteria for this research. The main criteria
were that the young men had lived in the Metropolitan Community since early
childhood and had attended the same middle and high school. However, most
importantly, they must have graduated from high school.
Definitions: African American is defined as a student bom in the United
States and having at least one African American parent. To be considered
successful, a student needed to meet, in the opinion of his teachers, at least four of
seven criteria:
1. Reads at age-appropriate (or better) level;
2. Writes at age-appropriate (or better) level;
47


3. Does age-appropriate math;
4. Can manage and make good use of study time;
5. Gets along well with peers;
6. Has average or above average test scores (if available);
7. Is motivated to learn.
Overcoming the odds is exceeding and living successfully in an urban city,
where poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are
commonplace, and high stress affects both home and school environments, as well as
family functioning.
These young men have each encountered risk factors growing up which were
potent predictors of negative developmental outcomes for most other Black
adolescent males in their cohort (community). From the review of literature, it is
apparent that these risk factors include: poverty, prenatal stress, family discord, and
low parental education. Other risk factors which these students had in common were:
they live in the same community (Metropolitan) where poverty and unemployment
rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are commonplace, and high stress affects both
home and school environments, as well as family functioning.
However, as middle school students, these resilient young men were more
responsible, mature, achievement motivated and socially connected than their
less competent, high-risk contemporaries.
Research Questions
The following research questions guided this study of resilience in selected
young African American males.
48


Question No. 1
What are the protective mechanisms that foster healthy development and
learning success of selected adolescent African American males?
Question No. 2
What are the factors in resiliency that have contributed to school success for
selected adolescent African American males?
Research Purpose and Goals:
I. Protective Factors Within the Family
Sample Factors that were Investigated
1. Caring and support
2. High expectations
Encourage youths participation
Protective Factors Within the School
Sample Factors that were Investigated
1. Caring and support
2. High expectations
*> Youths participation and involvement
Protective Factors Within the Community
Sample Factors that were Investigated
1. Caring and support
2. High expectations
3. Opportunities for participation
49


Note: A grounded theory questioning of the young African male determined
if protective factors existed in his family, school, and community. Table 3.1 indicates
research bases for protective factors related to resilience.
Table 3.1
Connecting Research and Factors
That Plav a Significant Role in Resilience
In the literature review, these factors were described as protective factors. They
include the following:
* Protective Factors Related to Resilience Research/Literature Review
Effective parenting Benard, Comer, McAdoo
Connections to other competent adults Benard, Nettles, Clark
Appeal to other people, particularly adults Benard, Feldman, Stiffman, Jung
Good intellectual skills Winfield, Ogbu, Fordham
Areas of talent or accomplish- ment valued by self and others Winfield, Ascher, Steinberg
Self-efficacy, self-worth, and hopefulness Garmezy, Rutter, Benard, Werner, Smith, and Steinberg
Religious faith or affiliations Ogbu, Benard, Lickona
Socio-economic advantages Wilson, Neckerman
Good schools and other community assets Polite, Comer, Edmonds, Rutter, Ogbu, Fordham, Nettles
Good fortune Winfield, Ascher
* NOTE: These protective factors were used as a guide for probing questions
during the interview process.
50


Many researchers, including Benard (1991) and Werner (1993), discuss the
many protective factors that foster resiliency (see Figure 3.1).
Figure 3.1
Protective Factors that Promote Resiliency
Admiration and supportive
relationship with at least one
adult
Belief that goals are achievable
Caring parents
Clear long-term goals
College preparatory plans
Enhanced opportunities at
major life transitions
Feelings of personal control
over ones life
Good health
Having experienced lessons
(reality checks) that reverse
the allure of risk behaviors
Low family stress
Opportunities to explore ones
environment
Perceptions that dysfunctional
home environments do not
hinder academic success
Personal responsibility
Presence of supportive adults
Schools that emphasize
involvement and belonging
Self-efficacy (in various
domains)
Self-esteem
Sense of community belonging
Sense of dignity
Sense of humor
Sense of justice
Spiritual belonging
Sports participation
Supportive school personnel
Unconditional love
Using time positively and
productively
Virtue
Well-developed maturity
Optimism about ones future
51


Data Collection
Qualitative researchers, including ethnographers, deal with empirical data, or
potentially verifiable information obtained from the environment and accessed via
human senses. Sources and types of data are limited only by the creativity and energy
of the researcher (LeCompte & Preissle, 1993).
LeCompte & Preissle (1993) state that the most common categories of data
collection used by ethnographic and qualitative researchers are observation,
interviewing, researcher-designed instruments, and content analysis of human
artifacts.
Strauss and Cobin (1990) say the three major components for qualitative
research are: data, analytic or interpretive procedures, and written and verbal reports.
Data for this study were broadly defined to include formal and informal
interviews; participant watching both within and outside the school (in the homes of
students, at their work and play sites), in classrooms, in churches, at community
rituals including holiday celebrations, and at recreational activities such as football
and basketball games.
Steps that were taken to establish a rapport (Yow, 1994, LeCompte &
Preissle, 1993) with the case study subjects included: arranging for a preliminary
meeting, explaining once again, the purpose of the project, clarifying expectations of
the participants, allowing the participants to become accustomed to and comfortable
with the recording equipment, assuring the subject that he is not obliged to answer all
of the questions, and letting the informants know that his contributions are important
and appreciated. For foe purpose of helping foe subjects to relax, each interview
session began with a minimal amount of small talk (Yow, 1994). I also collected data
52


from the students nonfamilial adult members of the Metropolitan Community.
Analytic or interpretive procedures were used to arrive at findings or theories. These
procedures included the techniques for conceptualizing data. This process, called
coding, varies by the training, experience, and purpose of the researcher (Charmaz,
1983). Written and verbal reports may be presented in scientific journals or
conferences and take various forms depending upon the audience and the aspect of
the findings or theory being presented. For instance, Strauss and Corbin suggest
someone may present either an overview of the entire findings or an in-depth
discussion of one part of the study.
Interviews
The Interview protocols developed for students, parents and teachers were
based on grand tour questioning techniques described by Spradley (1979).
The students were asked questions about what school is like for them, their
attitudes about school and their teachers, including the best and worst features of
both, their goals, aspirations and advice about how to be successful in school and in
life. Other questions concerning their neighborhoods, their interests and hobbies and
study habits were asked. Parents were asked about their own education and interests,
their childrens interests, hobbies, and experiences at school. Teachers, parents and
students were questioned on school and community issues, such as drugs, gangs and
violence. Other school experiences, community and social issues were also covered
in these interviews. (See Appendix.)
Data Analysis and Coding
The analysis of the large amount of data generated in a qualitative study needs
to be conducted in a thoughtful, conscientious manner. Lancy (1993) addresses the
53


variety of analyses conducted in qualitative research which range from data dissection
to data generalization. At one end of the continuum are the Glaser and Strauss
(1967), Strauss and Corbin (1990) strategies of breaking the data down into the
smallest pieces possible, then systematically coding and collating all the lower level
(grounded) categories, and then moving upward to seek meaningful, larger
aggregates. (Lancy, 1993). At the other end of the continuum is the work of L. M.
Smith, who developed the skimming the cream strategy, whereby, after one year on
a project, he and his fellow researchers simply asked themselves, What are the major
things weve learned from our year in the field? The resulting ideas and findings of
their brainstorming session were organized and fleshed out to include broader topics
and outlines. The researcher must choose the level of analysis appropriate for his/her
location and participants, for the purpose of the research. Lancy further states:
There is a tendency to use broader, less precise analytical tools in working with
larger units (e.g., school, community, district) and more precise, refined tools when
working with smaller units (e.g., lesson, reading group). (p.54)
Because the purpose of this research was to generate grounded theory and not
merely to describe a situation in the anthropological sense, a more precise strategy for
data analysis was used in order to explore relationships between categories of
collected data and therefore be able to produce grounded theory. Data analysis was
conducted using techniques designed by Strauss (1987), and Strauss and Corbin
(1990). These techniques include the use of a coding paradigm, as well as coding
techniques advocated by the same researchers including three levels: open coding,
axial coding, and selective coding. As the coding of data occurred, this researcher
conferred with other researchers to confirm the decisions made about initial coding
and emerging categories and theory.
54


Delimitations of the Study (identified before doing the study)
1. All participants were reared in the same inner-city community
(Metropolitan Community).
2. All participants attended the same middle school in the Metropolitan
Community.
3. All participants were nominated by their middle school teachers and
counselors as successful students who overcame the odds.
4. Overcoming the Odds is exceeding and living successfully in an
inner-city community, where poverty and unemployment rates are
high, drugs and violent crimes are commonplace, and high stress
affects both home and school environments, as well as family
functioning.
5. All participants graduated from Metropolitan High School.
6. All participants are African American males.
7. Being an African American male who is keenly aware of the powerful
aversion in the Black community will be of benefit to me as the
researcher.
Limitations of the Study
1. Only four out of the ten young men nominated met the criteria for the
study.
2. Study did not seek to compare resilient youth and non-resilient youth.
55


3. If there were more time, would like to have asked a set of interrelated
questions that are logically prior to those aimed at identifying
resilient students, schools, and communities. Those questions
would have been: What do we need to do to create communities
within which resilient schools and students can function? What roles
might schools play in establishing such communities?
Summary
Rutter (1987) has identified four main mechanisms that future research could
use to categorize the knowledge based on schools and communities and the
development of resilience among African American males: (a) the reduction of
negative outcomes by altering either the risk or the youths exposure to the risk; (b)
the reduction of a negative chain reaction following risk exposure; (c) the
establishment and maintenance of self-esteem and self-efficacy; and (d) the opening
up of opportunities. Rutter (1987) proposes that the impact of risk can be reduced in
two distinct ways: altering the meaning or danger of the risk variable and changing
the childs exposure to the risk situation. For example, providing quality pre- and
early-school experience reduces the risk of students developing attitudes and
behaviors that may hinder early learning in a formal school setting.
A second group of protective mechanisms are those that reduce the effect of
negative chain reactions that follow risk exposure. For example, the negative
developmental outcomes of gangs are diminished for young Black males who receive
home and community support to resist gang activity.
The third mechanism, self-efficacy, concerns individuals self-concept and
their feelings about their environment, their competence in handling lifes obstacles,
and their perceptions of control in determining outcomes. For individuals in high-risk
56


situations, these self-concepts help develop interpersonal relationships throughout the
life span and through successfully completing tasks.
The fourth mechanism, opening up of opportunities, concerns critical periods
within an individual's life for attaining skills necessary for school or job success, and
extracurricular involvement during the high-school years that operate as protective
mechanisms. Those individuals who drop out of high school or who do not receive
adequate skills or credentials miss experiences that may be protective (Rutter, 1987).
Conclusion:
Qualitative Methods. Validity, and Reliability
The qualitative methods used in this study consisted of three kinds of data
collection: (1) in-depth, open-ended interviews; (2) direct observation; and
(3) written documents (Patton, 1990). The data from my formal open-ended
interviews were from questions written out in advance exactly the way they were
asked during the interview (see Appendix).
The data from other interviews and personal communications consisted of
direct quotations from people about their experiences, opinions, feelings, and
knowledge. The data from my observations consisted of detailed descriptions of
peoples activities, behaviors, and actions. The data from written documents were
from other researchers, school district, and the city of Denvers publications. They are
used as figures and tables throughout this research. I debated, but decided not to
use any open-ended written responses to questionnaires and surveys.
The validity and reliability of the qualitative data in this study depended a
great deal on my sensitivity and integrity. Therefore, useful and credible qualitative
findings through observation and interviewing required me to be knowledgeable,
creative, and patient. Additionally, I had to prepare for an extended time in the field
on evenings and weekends and many nights at home analyzing the content of
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interviews and observations. Patton (1989) stresses that systematic and rigorous
observation involves far more than just being present and looking around. Skillful
interviewing involves much more than just asking questions. Content analysis
requires considerably more than just reading to see whats there, p 11
Conversely, as the fieldworker, I had used different data sources to validate
and cross-check my findings. Each type and source of data have strengths and
weaknesses. Using a combination of data types increases validity as the strengths of
one approach can compensate for the weaknesses of another approach (Marshall &
Rossman, 1989).
In regard to the external reliability of this study, I strongly believe that other
independent researchers would discover the same phenomena or generate the same
constructs in similar settings with similar participants.
To strengthen the internal reliability of this study, I shared my interview
research notes with other doctoral students and asked their opinions of what had been
said.
Therefore, this ethnographic investigation of observation, interviewing and
analyzing as its primary tool should have a relatively high validity and reliability.
58


CHAPTER 4
FINDINGS
This study explored four adolescent African American males who live in an
urban setting where poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent
crimes are commonplace, and high stress can afreet both home and school
environments, as well as family functioning. Nonetheless, these four young men had
developed adaptive and coping strategies to overcome these adverse circumstances.
The students were nominated by their school counselors and administrators.
They were identified as young Black males who had overcome the odds, and were
successful in middle and high school.
Overcoming the odds for these young men is living in an urban community,
where poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are
commonplace, and high stress could affect both home and school environments, as
well as family functioning. They are socially competent, self-efficacious, and an
effective problem solver who is able to negotiate through a web of adversity.
Three of the young men graduated from Metropolitan High School in 1997;
the fourth graduated in June of 1998. Metropolitan High School is in the city and
county of Denver and located in a community which has high crime figures and ranks
high in unemployment and poverty.
The qualitative data collection for the findings involved approximately one
year of observing, interviewing, transcribing and analyzing. Interview protocols
which were developed for students, parents and teachers were based on grand tour
questioning techniques described by Spradley (1979). My field notes include
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personal contact and interviews with the young men and their parents. All the parents
signed consent forms granting their sons permission to participate in the study.
During the formal interviews the young men were asked about what school is
like for them, their attitudes about school and their teachers, including the best and
worst features of both, their goals, aspirations and advice about how to be successful
in school and in life. Other topics concerning their neighborhoods, their interests and
hobbies were also parts of the interview questions.
In time the young men talked freely and openly about all aspects of their lives
and those of their cohorts. They told me about their hopes and aspirations, their
frustrations with school and school officials, how they coped in the community; their
struggles with their peers; and their perceptions of who they were racially and
culturally. Most important of all, as time passed, they talked to me in Black voice.
Most evenings and weekends found me spending some of my time in the
community, participating in the activities there and talking with the students parents,
other adults, and community leaders.
In fact, one of those evenings I was invited to participate in a focus group
meeting with community members and school personnel. Some of the data collected
includes interviews from that focus group meeting.
I have described the young men in the case study as resilient youths. The
definition of a resilient youth is one who is socially competent, self-efficacious, and
an effective problem-solver who is able to negotiate through a web of adversity
(Benard, 1991). (See Figure 4.1.)
Overall, the most important findings in this study were the protective factors
present in their family, school, and community, which serve as buffers against those
variables that put all young people, including Black males, at risk of unhealthy
behavior and dangerous situations.
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Figure 4-1
Profile of a Student with
Characteristics of Resiliency
BUILD RESILIENCY IN THE ENVIRONMENT
Provide Opportunities for Meaningful Participation
Believes voice is heard in classroom/school decisions.
Participates in helping others through cooperative learning,
service learning, peer helping, or other avenues.
Exhibits a sense of self-efficacy in taking on new challenges.
Set and Communicate High Expectations
Believes that any positive goal/aspiration can be accomplished.
Shows confidence in self and others.
Encourages self and others to do the best possible.
Provide Caring and Support
Feels that school is a caring place.
Has a sense of belonging.
Experiences school as a community.
Sees many ways to be recognized and rewarded.
MITIGATE RISK FACTORS IN THE ENVIRONMENT
Increase Prosocial Bonding
Connects with at least one of the many caring adults in the school.
Is involved with some of the many before-, after-, and in-
school activities.
Is engaged in cooperative peer-to-peer interactions through
teaching strategies and/or school programs.
Is positively connected to learning.
Set Clear, Consistent Boundaries
4 Understands and abides by policies and rules.
Participates in changing policies and rules.
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The Research Setting
Metropolitan Community
Metropolitan Community has always been the stable community in the city of
Denver. This community, like other older communities in Denver, has a lot of history
and tradition. Unfortunately, it is embedded in a section of the city where what is
categorized as violent crime is regularly publicized by the news media (see
Table 4.1). Over the years the racial demography of the Metropolitan Community
has not changed much. This community has always been considered a Black and
Hispanic community. Even though in its early years (1940s and the 1950s), the
community had a sizable population of Whites and Asians along with African
Americans and Hispanics. Today, the community is predominately Hispanic and
African American with the majority being Hispanic. However, since the 1990s, the
community has become predominately Hispanic.
Metropolitan Communitv Residents
While researching the Metropolitan Community, I came to realize that of all
the problems besetting the poor inner-city Black community, none is more pressing
than that of interpersonal violence and aggression. It wreaks havoc daily with the
lives of community residents and increasingly spills over into downtown and
residential middle-class areas.
Simply living in such an environment places young people (especially young
Black males) at special risk of falling victim to aggressive behavior. (Field Notes,
February 1998).
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Table 4.1. Denver Crime Report
Rate = Crimes per 1,000 residents
NEIGHBORHOODS 1996 1995 1995 RANK 1994 RANK
1. North Capitol Hill 335.3 376.7 1 1
2. Sun Valley 315.5 275.7 3 2
3. Five Points 314.7 338.7 2 3
4. Cherry Creek 216.0 206.2 5 8
5. Valverde 215.7 188.3 8 7
6. City Park 211.3 242.4 4 4
7. Baker 203.5 191.5 7 9
8. Elyria-Swansea 181.6 186.7 9 12
9. Jefferson Park 177.2 170.8 11 5
10. Overland 175.2 151.2 14 14
11. City Park West 175.1 203.2 6 6
12. College View 157.4 135.6 19 16
13. Lincoln Park 157.4 176.8 10 11
14. Capitol Hill 155.3 162.8 12 17
15. Globeville 146.9 151.2 13 10
16. Cole 144.5 144.5 17 15
17. Northeast Park Hill 144.5 146.8 16 13
18. Bamum 137.3 138.8 18 22
19. East Colfax 135.2 128.1 21 20
20. Speer 126.2 114.8 24 25
21. Clayton 125.4 128.3 20 19
22. Highland 124.4 123.1 23 23
23. Whittier 124.2 147.3 15 18
24. West Colfax 123.8 127.3 22 21
25. Athmar Park 117.7 114.8 25 26
Metropolitan Community
Source: Rocky Mountain News, May 15,1997
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Table 4.1. Denver Crime Report (Continued)
Rate = Crimes per 1,000 residents
NEIGHBORHOODS 1996 1995 1995 RANK 1994 RANK
26. Villa Park 105.7 101.8 27 27
27. Belcaro 98.2 103.9 26 28
28. Skyland 94.7 95.7 29 24
29. Washington Park West 94.6 90.3 32 32
30. Hale 93.8 96.1 28 30
31. Westwood 93.8 95.6 30 33
32. Rosedale 92.3 72.7 44 40
33. Regis 89.3 80.5 36 46
34. Goldsmith 88.9 70.1 45 39
35. Platte Park 88.2 85.8 33 34
36. Sunnyside 88.0 94.6 31 29
37. Cheesman Park 86.5 85.7 34 31
38. Berkeley 85.0 80.0 38 38
39. Bamum West 84.2 80.5 37 42
40. Sloans Lake 82.3 73.0 42 35
41. Chaffee Park 82.0 82.3 35 36
42. Montclair 81.1 75.7 39 37
43. Cory-Mem'll 78.7 68.4 49 44
44. West Highland 77.1 66.0 53 47
45. Congress Park 76.3 73.9 41 41
46. Mar Lee 74.4 67.9 50 50
47. Washington-Virginia Vale 70.5 69.5 45 55
48. Ruby Hill 69.6 68.5 49 49
49. Southmoor Park 68.8 65.9 54 59
50. Montbello 68.0 72.8 43 45
Source: Rocky Mountain News, May 15,1997
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Table 4.1. Denver Crime Report (continued)
Rate = Crimes per 1,000 residents
NEIGHBORHOODS 1996 1995 1995 RANK 1994 RANK
51. Country Club 67.4 74.0 40 51
52. University Hills 64.1 66.8 52 56
53. Virginia Village 63.5 59.5 56 52
54. South Park Hill 63.1 68.7 47 48
55. University 60.9 54.1 60 53
56. Washington Park 60.7 67.0 51 43
57. Lowry Reid 60.5 45.7 65 65
58. Harvey Park 59.7 61.4 55 57
59. North Park Hill 56.7 56.4 59 54
60. University Park 54.4 57.1 58 58
61. Hampden 53.1 50.3 61 60
62. Kennedy 49.8 57.3 57 62
63. Marston 47.4 48.1 63 64
64. Harvey Park South 47.4 48.5 62 63
65. Hampden South 45.9 47.7 64 61
66. Bear Valley 43.5 38.8 66 67
67. Hilltop 40.0 33.1 68 66
68. Windsor 38.6 31.5 69 69
69. Green Valley Ranch 36.8 36.1 67 68
70. Fort Logan 29.8 29.8 70 70
71. Wellshire 25.8 22.1 71 71
72. Indian Creek 24.8 16.9 72 72
Source: Rocky Mountain News, May 15,1997
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As mentioned earlier, most evenings found me spending time in the
Metropolitan Community participating in the activities there. It was during one of
those evenings in February, 1998,1 was invited to participate in a focus group
meeting of Metropolitan Community residents and school personnel. I was given
permission to tape record the meeting and had a chance to interview some of the
residents. The data gathered was important because it contributed to the findings.
The comments that follow are from two residents of the Metropolitan community.
Resident #1
I just want to say that I think that what we are into at this point in time, is
absolutely dynamic. It is so significant. Its hard to find the words to express
it because I think we are in a position at this point to try to help this
community to become organized in such a way that it can improve its own
mental health. This communitys mental health is bad. Because of the
climate of drugs, prostitution, dope killings... all of the rest You have all
the negative things. But it has some good things, too. Because there are some
people in this community who dont want it to be that way. And thats ...
those are the ones that we are going to have to try to rally to their own cause
to improve their own community, because if they dont, the school, you know
... The school is already being affected. But theres going to be more
negative effect. The schools going to have to take more of a part in this, too.
(Comments, Community Member, February, 1998).
Resident #2
Were going to have to say something about the school, about the community,
about gangs, about getting off of your duff and doing something to clean up in
your own neighborhood. Because there are people that represent different
streets in the community, I mean the trouble streets. They know who they are;
they know where the troubles are; and they are going to have to do something.
... And, its been done in other communities. Sometimes people have to
have marches up and down the streets to protest certain things in their
community, and have to do it in significant numbers so as to drive those
forces out, with or without the police departments help. Sometimes that
sounds negative, but it isnt negative, because the police department is right
here in the community and lots of things are happening.
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We talked about the community and its obvious that the help, the emphasis is
going to come from the community. But were also talking about a group of
people that work in this school who dont live in the community. And yet,
they work within the community because they are teachers in this school.
How do we deal with that? Will people listen to them or well. .. Its another
bunch of outsiders telling us how to run our community. (Comments,
Community Residents, February, 1998).
Metropolitan High School
Metropolitan High School is located in a predominantly African American
section of the city of Denver. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, it is embedded in a
section of the city where what is categorized as violent crime is regularly publicized
by the news media. Metropolitan residents are sometimes perceived negatively by
most others in the city. This response, however, is muted when directed at the
students from Metropolitan High School, especially the White students (who until this
year, 1998, were bused in for integration purposes) would declare with pride that they
attend Metropolitan High. This was true in part because the school had a widely
recognized advanced placement program, and a large number of the White students
were in those classes. In fact 80 percent of the 1997 graduates attended 4-year
colleges. They relished the schools high academic standards, the sports enthusiasm
and camaraderie of its relatively small student body of 1,000. And they cherished the
closeness they developed with kids from different races and economic backgrounds.
The Students
There were some stark differences. Most of the White students lived in
affluent areas of Denver. Most of the minority students lived near Metropolitan in a
predominately lower income area.
However, when Metropolitan High became a neighborhood school in 1997, it
lost a 20-year tradition of a racial and economic mix of high-achieving students.
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i
In 1996-1997,95 percent of the school's 1,000 students are Black and Hispanic (see
Figure 4.2). The majorities are from low-income homes where support for education
is often weak. Ninth graders make up half the students; nearly all are behind, some
are at elementary school reading levels. By mid-term, suspensions were up over last
year and ninth graders had earned the majority of the failing grades. In addition,
regular attendance seems foreign for too many students. Some gang rivalries have
surfaced.
After years of mid-day freedom, the campus might close. Too many students
are returning late from lunch or not at all. Some cant resist drugs. Cruisers lure kids
away and aggravate neighbors that Metropolitan High needs as supporters. (Student
Adviser, Personal Communication, May 1, 1998).
The Staff
Even with the many challenges, the schools principal and her administrative
and teaching staff have worked very hard to maintain the high academic focus the
school had for over 20 years during court-ordered busing. The school continues to
offer Advanced Placement Courses and has affiliated itself with the Coalition of
Essential Schools (CES).
Implementation of CES began in the fell of 1997 with the Class of2001.
Upper division Programs of Excellence featuring internships and graduation by
exhibition will be fully implemented over the next four years.
The school has tailored its curriculum to its students. Core subjects and
reading are stressed in relatively small classes of about 20. Close teacher-student
relationships are developing. Extra help and encouragement are scheduled into the
day, but students consistently challenge teachers efforts to raise expectations.
(Principal, Personal Communication, May 1, 1998).
I
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Figure 4.2
Characteristics of the students residing in Metropolitans new attendance area are
shown below together with comparative information from October 1996.
Percentage of students in the Following categories: Membership 1996/1997 Attendance Area 1996/1997
Ethnicity White 42.4 percent 6.5 percent
Ethnicity Black 42.4 percent 40.4 percent
Ethnicity Hispanic 14.0 percent 51.3 percent
Limited English proficient students Spanish 3.7 percent 28.3 percent
Eligible for free/reduced price lunch 26.6 percent 75.1 percent
Reading at or below the 25th percentile (Gr. 9) 30.4 percent 56.5 percent
Reading at or below the 50th percentile (Gr. 9) 48.5 percent 82.5 percent
Source: Denver Public Schools
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These kids are different; Im working harder to motivate them; I didnt have
to do that before. We want to modify their behavior. We want to nurture
them. Its a carrot vs. the stick approach. (Interview, Teacher, May 1, 1998).
Outside the classroom, teachers seem to spend every spare minute in
meetings: for planning, for peer coaching, for outside speakers, for community
relations. The meetings are meant to invigorate teachers, to vent frustrations and
share solutions. Home visits are more necessary as truancy has increased. About 20
percent of visited students have come back regularly.
That type of result mirrors the incremental progress in many classrooms.
While teachers anticipate improvement, for now they have to be satisfied with less
from more. (Field Notes, May 1, 1998).
However, schools have the power to build academic and personal resiliency in
students. Even if barriers to resiliency building for students exist in many schools,
individual teachers in individual classrooms can still create havens of resiliency-
building environments that are also strongly associated with academic success.
Individual educators also can work to overcome the barriers to resiliency building that
may exist in their larger school organizations. To do these things, however, educators
themselves must be resilient; disempowered teachers are unlikely to create academic
contexts of possibility and transformation (Fine, 1991). Furthermore, both
protective factor research and research on effective schools clearly identify the
characteristics of schools that provide this source of protection for youth. And, what
was found was most interesting, they parallel the protective factors found in the
family environments of resilient youth.
Case Study Data
Benard (1992) indicates that the following protective factors present in the
family, school, and community serve as buffers against those variables that put
70


children at risk of unhealthy behavior such as violence: a positive, caring relationship
with an adult, high expectations for behavior and abilities, and opportunities for
meaningful participation and involvement.
Along with formal interviews, preliminary observations and informal
conversations with parents, neighbors, teachers, and administrators were critical for
these case studies.
Case Study #f: Larry
Larrys Background
Larry is 19 years old and a 1997 graduate of Metropolitan High School. He
lives in an area that was the old Metropolitan Community. He was an average student
in high school, and has plans to attend the local community college in the fall.
Larry has a quiet demeanor about him, but his quietness shouldnt be confused
with shyness. While observing Larry, one discovers that here is a young man who
likes being around people and is pretty sharp about figuring out people. He states, I
know the people I should avoid and I know how to avoid bad situations. During our
interview, he indicated that he cannot change the world and cannot change the
behavior of others. However, he is confident that no one can influence him either.
(Larry, Personal Communication, 1997).
Larrys mother is not overly protective, even though she insists on always
knowing Larrys whereabouts and whom he is with. She claims that she trusts Larry
because he is very mature and responsible, but she is aware of how dangerous the
neighborhood can be.
Larrys principal says that he is the ideal student. Besides being a good
student, he is a gentleman and has a pleasant personality. From conversation with
his principal it was discovered that his favorite subject in school was art. His teacher,
71


who had encouraged him to continue his art in college, also confirmed this. (Field
Notes, 1997).
Larry said that he didnt get involved in sports or other extracurricular
activities because he worked every day after school as a custodian helper at the
middle school in his neighborhood.
Protective Factors in Family
Yes, sir. Education is important in our house. Graduating from high school is
probably the biggest thing yet for my family. Although I have two sisters who
graduated before me, Im the first boy to do that. (Interview, Larry, 1997).
Family to Larry is important and he recalls some memorable experiences
while growing up in his family.
Larry has two sisters and two brothers. The brothers are younger and his
sisters are older. IBs father does not live with the family. There is strong relationship
with the rest of the family, and they provide a high level of love and support for
Larry. His mother has set clear rules and consequences at home, and she monitors his
whereabouts. (Field Notes, 1997).
Yes they do... My mom is always there and so are my brothers and sisters.
They pretty much know... just like graduation they were there. ... So, so,
thats pretty much a high level of love. They really want me to take my own
responsibility in how I conduct myself. I conduct myself in a manner in
which probably would be acceptable to almost any parent. (Interview, Larry.
1997).
Protective Factors in School
Larry has strong feelings about doing well in school. He likes school and
considers himself an average student. Larrys mother insists that he does well in
school, but she does not put undue pressure on him. She provides a stable home


environment and allows him to take advantage of the opportunities that present
themselves. This appears to be her nonverbalized position, because to her it is far
more important he become human in the traditional African American sense
generous, respectful, and honestthan that he become the most successful person in
America. (Field Notes, 1997).
Larry expresses how he feels about doing well in school this way:
Well, doing well... I mean ... in a society that we live in, its a free society,
and its important to do well in school, especially being a Black male, You
never know. You know were always stereotype of how Black people are,
and Black males are seen to be gang members or that kind of stuff that kind
of stereotype. Not educated; always getting people pregnant, women and
young girls, not taking care of their own responsibilities. (Interview, Larry,
1997).
Larry was asked to rate himself as a student and was asked if teachers had
high expectations of him at Metropolitan High. Yeah, I would say Im probably
above average, or average, depending on what classes, various classes. (Interview,
Larry, 1997).
Teachers were pretty effective at Metropolitan High.... Yeah. What I
produce is what I get. Most of the classes I took were... I had to take two
English classes this year, so I can say the teachers were doing their job, and
its just up to me to get the job done. (Interview, Lany, 1997).
Larry was not involved in any leadership role or extracurricular activities at
Metropolitan High School, and couldnt recall any memorable educational
experiences. However, he did express how busy he was during his senior year.
Oh, whoa. This past school year was probably one of the hardest school years
that I have ever had. Between going to school and working after school. .
there really was no time to do any kinds of clubs or after school activities.
Basically, my after school thing was doing homework and working after
school. (Interview, Larry, 1997).
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I


While describing his school experiences, Larry discussed how he resists
negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.
By just basically being myself. Im not going to tell a person what they can or
cannot do; because, once again, we all live in a free society and people are
free to do what they want to do. I mean regardless of my encouragement,
even if it helps or not. I mean. I can only be my own person, be myself. I
dont follow the crowd. I mean I talk to people who are in crowds. Like I
said before, people do what they want to do, but Im not going to discourage
them from doing what they want to do. If thats what they want to do, I cant.
Theres no way. Im not going to endanger myself by forcing them to stop
doing something. So I feel that Im not going to be a part of that. (Interview,
Larry, 1997).
Protective Factors in the Community
Well, in the neighborhood, I feel safe in my neighborhood. I mean, every
once in a while there might be a problem or something like that, but that can
happen almost anywhere where a person is out of order and that sort of stuff.
Well, Im sort of like my mom when it comes down to the neighborhood. I
really, I never really associate with anyone around there anyway. So I sort of
mind my own business. I mean if you do that, then I guess that can be a way
of resisting negative peer pressure. Because, you know, we dont associate
with anyone in the neighborhood. We sort of just stay to ourselves.
(Interview, Larry, 1997).
When questioned more about this important topic of resisting negative
behavior, Larry talked in length about the difficulties for young Black males in his
community to resist high-risk behaviors such as alcohol, drugs and being sexually
active.
Well, I would probably say thats a yes and no question. I mean, myself, I
havent participated in those kinds of activities, but I have known people who
do that. I mean, to have actually done that. I mean right in front of me. Im
not going to ... Like I said before, Im not going to tell a person that it is
right or wrong for them to do it, because if thats what they like doing, Im not
going to stop a person from doing what they like doing. I mean, it probably
74


i
sounds kind of selfish, but I mean, I have to worry about, I have to look out
for myself before I look out for someone else. I think thats whats wrong
with people today. Most people sort of generalize other peoples lives and
say, Well, you shouldnt be doing this, and you know this and that and this is
wrong for you. Well, if they know its wrong for them, why do they keep on
doing it?
I mean, me, I havent participated in any of the activities; but I mean, I
havent really been pressured to do any of that. I mean, I probably say once
that I have, but I said no, because I didnt want to. I mean, me, I have no
interest in that area, in any of those areas, period. I mean, now maybe the sex
part, that will probably come later on in my life, and I feel that I am
comfortable to do that kind of stuff but as far as the alcohol and the drugs, I
feel that Im not, I dont want to do that. Thats something that I dont want
to do.
In high school, thats all you ever heard people talking about was how they
were going to get drunk, how they are going to do this and that. And in turn, I
think thats how it can translate into the college lifestyle where you see people
on TV drinking and that kind of stuff. But I mean, like I say, Im not going to
subject myself to that because, Im not going to discourage them to do it,
because they know the difference between right and wrong. (Interview, Larry,
1997).
When asked about his future plans and the direction his life is going, Larry
concluded this interview by stating that he couldnt predict the path he was going to
take, but whatever path he chose, it probably will be the right path.
As far as being optimistic, Im not really sure about that yet, because I just got
out of high school. Ive got to set my priorities straight now. Ive got to reset
my priorities, because I have been used to the same priorities for five years
nowworking and school. I have to reset everything and I have to basically
start over from scratch. So, I really dont, Im really unsure right now until I
get everything together and bring everything together, because Im used to
doing things that way.... (Interview, 1997)
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Case Study #2: Terry
Terrys Background
Terry lives in an area adjacent to the Metropolitan Community called
Arrowhead. This community has one of the highest crime rates in the city. Even
though the neighborhood is being re-vitalized from efforts of the city and community
business leaders, the neighborhood still has the reputation of drugs and violence. The
neighborhood is closely connected with lower downtown, and in the past few years
the community is seeing an economic re-vitalization that stems from the efforts of
business leaders in the community.
The house that Terry lives in is one hundred years old. In fact, the house is
the same house Terrys father was raised in. The community has many small
businesses, restaurants, taverns, retail clothing and record stores. Furthermore,
Terrys house is the only house on the block. Next door to his house is a barbershop,
and on the other side is a record store.
Terry is a young man who is well known in his community, because there are
not many young people who live in the immediate area. All of his extracurricular
activities at school and home are centered around music. He is an excellent drummer.
Terry is hopeful that he may receive a music scholarship at the State University.
Even though Terry lives in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city, he
believes by being involved with music he was able to distance himself from any
trouble and especially not being in situations where negative things were taking place.
Protective Factors in the Family
Growing up in my family? Hah! I remember being young and there were
always a lot of things to do. There were four of us, I have an older brother
and two older sisters, and Im the youngest. On Sundays we would watch
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karate movies and stuff like that... Kung fix and stuff like that, play games
like the boys would get the girls, and stuff like that. (Interview, Terry, 1997).
Terrys family is very close. Because he is the youngest, he is very protected
by his older brother who is 28 years old and his older sisters who are 26 and 19 years
old. He has a large extended family that is also very close. His grandparents are
deceased. His parents have always encouraged and supported him to be the best,
especially in school. Terrys father maintains that his earlier experiences with the
three older children have helped him immensely in rearing Terry.
Ive got a lot of experience with the first three. I dont think I did anything
special with Terry, other than encouraged him to pursue his music.
(Interview, Terrys Father, 1997).
However, as the youngest of four children, Terry feels pressured to do as well
as his brother and sisters. Two graduated from high school and have obtained college
degrees and one is still in the process of working toward a degree. According to
Terrys father, Terry was spending more time with his music than his academics.
Nonetheless, Terrys father says that the time he has spent on his music will
pay off by receiving a music scholarship.
Yes. They always encourage me to work hard in school, graduate, and go to
college. Yeah. Because they have always said, that even though Im good in
music that if I didnt make it musically, I would have something else to fall
back on. (Interview, Terry, 1997).
When asked about his parents level of education, Terry indicated that his
father went through college and his mother never attended college. However, his
brother and sisters did go to college.
My two oldest sisters and brother, they both completed school. My brother
got a degree in marketing at the State University; and my other sister, she got
a degree in psychology. So they both completed college. And my youngest
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sister, well, shes not young.. shes 19. She is currently going to the City
College. (Interview, Terry, 1997).
Protective Factors in School
Terry was asked to talk about his school experiences and if there was anything
that stood out as far as memorable experiences either in elementary, middle or high
school.
Well, from the beginning the music (drums), I dont know. I tend to be
attracted to that more just because thats where my heart really feels. And, I
dont know, my academics, theyre kind of they were just kind of like... I
dont know howto explain it, but they were just like almost completely
different. I mean, theyre like, theyre competitive, because academics is like
something that you have to do. And your music is something you like to do. I
believe that anyone that is involved in the Arts do it because they want to do
it. In my school, I guess, Im an average student, because I dont focus on my
academic classes. Even though I might not be serious in my academic classes,
I get my work done on a consistent basis. So, I guess Im one of those
average students. (Interview, Terry, 1997).
Terrys high school principal suggests, that because of the support from his
parents and his involvement in his music were factors that contributed to his success
in high school.
Conversely, one of Terrys teachers at Metropolitan High considers him a
good student, but one who didnt work to his potential, which may indicate that
teachers had high expectations of him.
Well, actually some of my teachers consider me a good student. But, on tests
and exams, I dont know, I tend to kind of struggle, because I have to study on
my own time. ... And thats hard for me to do. To sit down and focus and
study about something thats been going on for the past three weeks and to
retain the information was hard for me to do. So, I usually score in the
average range on tests. (Interview, Terry, 1997).
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Contrary to some in regards to African Americans doing well in school and
being ostracized, Terry claims that being smart at school is okay and maybe even
cool.
I wouldnt really say cool, I mean, they would accept it if you were. But it
is okay to be a good student. I mean, they respect you if youre smart.
Nobody wants to hang around a dummy. (Interview, Terry, 1997).
He asserts that he doesnt act any differently at school than he does at home.
When Im at school, Im with my friends, especially in the music program.
Ive been with most of them for five years. So, they pretty much know me by
now, and I act the same at home and in school. (Interview, Terry, 1997).
When questioned about school safety and does he feel safe at school, Terry
suggests that:
Yeah, I mean I feel safer at home, because I was brought up in the
neighborhood. But sometimes I dont feel as safe as I think I should feel
when I come to school. (Interview, Terry, 1997).
I feel that the security system (personnel) at Metropolitan High is one of the
weaker ones that I have seen, and I dont really feel that if anything happened
that they would be able to control the situation. I mean, were at risk, the
students. (Interview, Terry, 1997).
Protective Factors in the Community
Terry offers some insights on his neighborhood. He suggests:
Well, in my neighborhood, there arent too many young people. And the
young people that are there are pretty bad, like, you cant control them. I
mean growing up in the Five Points area for most of my life, I know whats
going on out there, and I just try to alleviate myself from being in a position
where I would have to make a decision where I might get in trouble. So I just
dont put myself in a position with negative people or stuff like that
(Interview, Terry, 1997).
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During one our interviews, Terry indicated that most of his closest friends
didnt even live in his neighborhood, and he really doesnt spend much of his time in
the neighborhood.
On Sundays, my friends and I go to a club called Shakespeare. Its a jazz
club, and on Sundays it is open to young people my age. So its like young
kids just hanging out at the jazz club. (Interview, Terry, 1997).
When asked if his friends looked up to him, he stated that he really never
thought about that, but maybe they do.
Huh, I never really thought about that Oh... I guess, kinda, because out of
my friends, Im like the oldest one and Im the first one like to complete high
school, and like since Im making it musically and stuff. I meanI guess,
they might kind of admire me, but I wouldnt say look up to me. (Interview,
Terry 1997).
Terry also indicated that the adults in his community acknowledge young
people and are real supportive of young people like himself. Terry insists that he
feels safe in his neighborhood because of the closeness of the interactions of the
adults in the community.
I feel safe at home. In my neighborhood I feel safe because people know me,
so like they wouldnt like, really mess with me, seeing as how they know me
and my family.... So, yeah. (Interview, Terry, 1997).
Even though Terry is secure around his home and his friends, he is well aware
of the dangers that exist in his neighborhood and he doesnt stay around his
neighborhood much during the summer.
Well, I would like, like, be like a kid. Kinda. Like do kid stuff and relax
during the summer. And go to the movies more often. Go to like the
recreation centers and swim and stuff like that. But, most of the time Im
away from my neighborhood practicing in the All City Marching Band. I
mean, thats something I love to do, so Im not regretting that at all. But, I do
wish I could do more kid-type stuff in my neighborhood. (Interview, Terry,
1997).
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Case Study #3: Jasper
Jaspers Background
Jasper is 18 years old and a 1997 graduate of Metropolitan High School. He
lives in the southeast area of the Metropolitan Community. At an early age, Jasper
was identified as requiring special education needs. Over the years, including high
school, Jasper has managed to maintain above average grades even while being in
special classes for his special educational needs. Even though he was never involved
in a leadership-type role at Metropolitan High School, he felt fortunate to participate
in sports. However, he expressed to me that he wishes he had the talent to be really
good in sports. He claims that he was not the best player on the court or the field. He
secretly wishes he were a little taller. However, he is very proud of his academic
accomplishment. Even with his special needs, Jasper will attend college in the fall of
1997. (Field Notes, 1997).
Protective Factors in the Family
Jaspers family is the center of his life and he contributes to the closeness of
his family as a near tragedy occurred a few years ago.
My dad and my two oldest sisters were in a car accident at the beginning of
last summer, and my sister broke her back in three places, and had internal
bleeding, and was in the hospital for over a month and then had home care for
about over a month, and therapy for about six months after that. And, that just
showed how quick somebody you love could be taken away from you and it
brought me, personally, a lot closer to my sister, the one that was in the
accident.
Because of the accident, Jaspers mother insists that Jasper know how
important it is to have a strong, loving family. He and his sisters have become real
buddies.
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In Jaspers home his mother is the one who helps with the homework.
Yep. Yeah, my dad didnt have any education, so he is really, he like supports
us.... He cant really help us out, but Mom, yeah, she can, shell sit down
with us and help us to go over a paper for mistakes, or help us with the. . my
sisters with their algebra or English or stuff like that.
Jaspers perceptions of how his parents taught him are very similar to what his
father said. Jaspers father asserted that Jasper is an extremely self-directed
individual who does not appear to need his peers approval for school success. He
tends to make school-related decisions without being preoccupied with the pervasive
self-policing so common at his school. (Field Notes, 1997).
Protective Factors in School
I feel good when I get a good grade in class. Especially if its a class that Im
interested in and a teacher I like; I feel like I have to do well so that I dont let
the teacher down. But, if its like a boring class and the teacher stinks, and,
you know_____Kind of on and off. I just try to get through the class.
(Interview, Jasper, 1997).
At Metropolitan High Jasper was in the college track classes through his high
school career. Even with his special needs (dyslexia) he maintains high grades.
Most of the classes at Metropolitan High were not too bad. The X classes
were pretty hard, and the AP classes, but for the most part, if you went to class and
did your work, you were going to pass with As and Bs. The teachers, theyre pretty
good. There are always those that just nobody likes and you wonder why they are
teaching. (Interview, 1997). When a question about how his teachers responded to
him as an African American male, Jasper suggests that most of his teachers respected
him because he was always a good student (B average) throughout high school.
Most of my teachers liked me a lot. They knew I do pretty good work and
stuff like that. And especially if I had a teacher for a second time. However, I
felt they had more high expectations for all the White kids in school. They
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probably expect more from them than the minority is the rule. (Interview,
Jasper, 1997).
Question: Is it Cool to be Smart Among Your Friends?
Yeah, nobody gives you a hard time for, you know, for being the smart guy.
You dont get like looked down upon at all or nothing like that. (Interview,
Jasper, 1997).
Positive Factors in the Community
Question: How do you resist negative peer pressures and dangerous
situations?
One, just try to avoid them in the first place, if possible. And, I know who my
friends are and I know the people, you know, you dont really want to hang
around with if you dont want to get in trouble, or do what youre not
supposed to be doing, probably. Like if I was at a party or something, you
know if its time to leave, cause a certain group of guys are walking in the
door you know its time to go... Most of the time its people I know, and its
my neighborhood pretty much, so Im not really like afraid of anybody or
nothing like that. You know, Im ... they pretty much know me and they
dont bother me. (Interview, 1997).
Most of Jaspers friends dont live in his neighborhood. When he was in
elementary school, he went to a different school than the school in his neighborhood.
His friends who are from other parts of town know that he has work to do after school
because most of his friends are in his classes.
Like ... We are in the same classes and have the same paper to do, you
really dont say, nah, I cant go out man, and I have to write that dang
research paper before going out. They are all doing the same. (Interview,
Jasper, 1997).
When asked about the adults in the community and if they monitor the young
peoples behavior, Jasper shares that the adults in his neighborhood do monitor his
behavior.
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I dont know about other neighborhoods, but if some adult sees me driving
down the street, acting all crazy or something, Im sure they will.... My dad
like, hes like the block captain of our neighborhood and he is all into the
neighborhood programs like the Weed and Seed program. He knows pretty
much everybody, so yeah, like Ive got eyes on me all the time. And my dad,
yeah, like hell keep after some kids, like if some kids are like out late at
night, he will go over there and say, you guys ought to be quiet. (Interview,
Jasper, 1997).
Case Study #4: Steve
Steves Background
Steve lives in the upper area of the Metropolitan Community with his mother,
father and three siblings, an older brother and two younger sisters. Steve attended a
magnet school that focuses on Arts (Metropolitan School of the Arts) from sixth
grade through twelfth grade. He attended Metropolitan High School for his
academics and the middle school in the community for his arts classes.
Steve plays the trumpet in the School of the Arts jazz band and concert band.
He also participates in the Metropolitan Public Schools All City Marching Band
program. Steves band teacher considers Steve as one of the top trumpet players in
the state. He has participated in a number of state band and orchestra competitions
throughout his high school career, but stresses that jazz music is his what he wants to
pursue.
Protective Factors in the Family
Steves parents decided to live in the Metropolitan Community even with its
negative reputation because they liked the homes in the neighborhood. They both
insist that as parents they need to be involved and support their children wherever you
live. However, because the Metropolitan Community has a reputation for drugs and
84


gang violence, they agreed that you may have to be more diligent with your children.
However, Steve is involved in so many activities away from the neighborhood that he
seldom interacts with many of the young people in the community (Field Notes,
1998).
When I asked Steve how he would handle the negative peer pressure and
dangerous situations that confront young men in his community and at school, he
responded by telling me what his mother always told him to do.
The only way I think you resist those things is to remember what your family
teaches you about what is right and wrong; and you can always use your mom
as an excuse. Whenever I need to remove myself from people who may do
negative things, I will say, My mom told me to come home; my mom said
so. Thats what my mom always encouraged me to do. Whenever Im in a
jam, just say, My mom said so. You know. My mom is a real
communicator. Whenever I walk in the door, I find myself sitting down for
fifteen minutes just telling her about whatever I did that day, or whats going
on, or whatever she needs me to do.. .. And. .. then.. I then go do
homework and practice. (Interview, Steve, 1998).
Steve claims that his mother is the most influential person in his life, because
unlike his father, she is intimately involved with him; she is extremely supportive;
and does not criticize him much. During a home visit, his mother spoke of his
maturity. (Field Notes, 1998).
Yes, weve given him support, but he is responsible enough to strike out on his
own. He does a lot of things on his owna lot of positive things that
sometimes were not even aware of.. .. And, I like the fact that he shows a
lot of respect for the teachers at school. So, I like that. You know, a lot of
kids are scholarly, but theyre still not as respectful as they should be. I have
never had that problem with Steve. Never. (Interview, Steves Mother,
1998).
However, Terrys mother asserts there were limits on his outside activities:
We... always had curfews. As far as his friends, we never had any problem
with that. The people he would associate with were okay. .. We had some
problems with the older boy, because he was going through a phase of finding
85


himself. But Steve missed all of that. He was always involved in his music at
an early age. (Interview, Steves Mother, 1998).
Protective Factors at School
Steve attended two schools during his freshman, sophomore and junior years
of high school: one was the School of Arts at the middle school in the community,
and the other was Metropolitan High School. During his senior year of 1998, the
districts magnet school of the arts opened its own school and housed the academic
program along with the arts program. Steve maintains that he enjoyed both settings.
Well, Metropolitan High, I liked Metropolitan a lot. I had a lot of fun there.
My brother went there, too, so, I meanI walked in with the reputation of my
brother and got to know a lot of people because of it. The school was a happy
school and a lot bigger than Denver School of Arts. I guess my senior year is
a lot different here at Denver School of Arts. A little softer environment I
think, at Metropolitan High it was about having fun. It was a more jock-type
atmosphere. But a lot of my friends were serious about their academics, too.
Academics are pretty important in my family. There were times that I didnt
do my homework and just procrastinated and messed around and my parents
were on my butt.
Steve admits that the two schools are different when it comes to teacher
expectations:
Yeah, I think at the Denver School of the Arts the expectations are higher. I
dont know, whenever somebody associates arts, you associate a higher group.
(Interview, Steve, 1998).
When the question about friends came up, Steve asserts:
In the past, I used to act different just because its what my friends were
doing; I did what my close friends were doing. So you adapted to how they
were, and when you were at home you acted different. Lately, maybe because
Im older, I just start acting the same way all the time. Which is the way I am
now.
86


I
i
Steve claims that his mother and father taught him and his older brother how
to behave. They taught them what is appropriate behavior, and everything a
Black child needs to know in order to conform to social expectations and to
avoid the disfiguring sense of place prescribed for African American males.
(Field Notes, 1998).
Protective Factors in the Cnmn-innfrv
During a home visit, Steves parents recall a time when the community
provided many more outlets for students to discover their interest and talents such as
businesses, libraries, and recreation centers. They even suggest that the young people
in their community do not have opportunities to interact positively with peers and
adults, as they once did.
Steve admits that he doesnt spend much time in his neighborhood, but he
does feel safe in his neighborhood. He says that he handles negative peer pressure
and dangerous situations by not hanging out and doing nothing.
You just dont be around all the time. You know there are certain times that
you can hang out, and there are other times when certain people are around
you know not to hang out. There are like six or seven neighborhood kids that
I know real well. We hang out at each others houses, watch movies, you
know... sometimes go out to one of the parties you hear about. (Interview,
Steve, 1998).
Summary of Case Studies and Early Findings
The resilient young men identified in this study were successful in school, had
adequate peer, family, and school support systems that function as protective factors
facilitating academic success. They were socialized into mainstream society, did well
academically, and maintained a strong identification with their ethnic group. These
traits have been described as being biculturality, which is the ability to draw
simultaneously on standardized African American group behavior and on behaviors
accepted by the mainstream cultural system. Bicultural people and the young men in
this study actively participate in both cultures, have extensive interactions within each
87


Full Text

PAGE 1

A CASE STUDY OF ADOLESCENT AFRIC.I\N AMERICAN MALES AND FACTORS IN RESILIENCY THAT HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO TiffilR DEVELOPMENT AND SCHOOL SUCCESS by Samuel R. Batey B.A. Southern Colorado State College, 1965 M.A. University ofNorthem Colorado at Greeley, 1975 A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado at Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Educational Leadership and Innovation 1999

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This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy degree by Samuel R Batey has been approved by /ku .. /5, /'t9j Date

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Batey, Samuel Richard (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation) A Case Study Of Adolescent African American Males And Factors In Resiliency That Have Contributed to Their Development And School Success. Thesis directed by Professor Michael Martin ABSTRACT The primary purpose of this qualitative research was to explore the factors in resilience that have contributed to the success of adolescent African American males, and attempt to identify so-called "protective factors," or those conditions that foster resiliency in Black males despite the negative odds they face. This research examined how resiliency and the protective factors in the family, school, and the community can affect the young Black males' ability to succeed. The researcher selected a qualitative case study approach to focus on the developmental tasks of adolescent African American males. The study also focuses on: the environmental risks that confront them, evidence of resilience in light of the risks faced, and explanations for the observed adaptation, and implications for the education of young African American males. The site for this qualitative case study was "Metropolitan Community," a community under adverse circumstances in the city of Denver. The study explored four adolescent African American males who live in the "Metropolitan Community" where poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are commonplace, and high stress can affect home and school environments, as well as family functioning. Nonetheless, the four young men in this study developed adaptive and coping strategies to overcome these adverse circumstances. The traditional qualitative data collection of interviewing, observing, transcribing and analyzing were employed in this case study. The field notes included personal contact with school personnel and community members along with interviews with the young men's parents. w

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The findings from the study strongly suggest that the protective factors identified with resiliency were clearly factors in the four African American male students. The findings revealed they had positive relationships with their families. friends. and other adults in their lives. Furthermore. they were socially competent. and effective problem-solvers. who were able to negotiate through a web of adversity at their school and in their neighborhood. Future research could study how resiliency and the protective factors can prevent the escalating cycles of deviance and dysfunctional behavior of some of our young African American males. This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate s thesis. I recommend its publication. Signed iv

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DEDICATION This dissertation is dedicated to all African American males on whom I may have had some influence during my 28 years in the Denver Public School System. To my son, and grandson, daughter and granddaughters, and most importantly, my loving wife, the mother and grandmother of my children and grandchildren. You give me the strength and pride to carry on.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENT There are many people I would like to thank for the support and encouragement they have given over the past five years in this Doctoral program. Without their help, I wouldn't be writing this acknowledgement. Those thanks go to the professors and staff in the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Colorado at Denver. I especially want to thank my dissertation committee. Each of them has played a very special role in my development as a professional student and educator. They are: Dr. Michael Martin, who directed this dissertation; and Dr Wayne Carle, Dr. Lerita Coleman, Dr Sharon Ford, and Dr Cherie Lyons. I also want to thank all of the participants in my research, especially the four young men and their parents for their time and their willingness to share their story Finally, I want to thank my fellow Doctoral cohort, study partner, writing companion and soul mate, my wife, Barbara.

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CONTENTS Figures----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------xii Tables ..... ------------------------------------------------xiii CHAPTER 1. INl"R.ODUCTION ............................................................................ I Background of the Problem ...................................................... 3 Purpose Statement and Research Questions .............................. 5 Purpose Statement ......................................................... 6 Research Questions ........................................................ 6 Theoretical Framework ............................................................ 7 Implications of the Problem ..................................................... 7 Economic Implications .................................................. 8 Social Implications ........................................................ 8 Sociocultural Implications ............................................. 9 Political Implications---------9 Academic Achievement Implications ............................ 10 Methodological Design ........................................................... 10 Summary ................................................................................ 12 2. REVIEW OF THE LITER.ATUR .................................................. 14 Introduction/Background ofProblem ...................................... 14 Resilience in Individual Development: Successful Adaptation Despite Risk and Adversity _. _. _. I 7 The Nature ofResi1ience ........................................................ .21 VII

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Protective Factors Within the Family ...................................... 24 Caring and Support ....................................................... 24 High Expectations ......................................................... 25 Encourage Children's Participation ............................... 26 Protective Factors Within the School ...................................... 27 Caring and Support ....................................................... 27 High Expectations ......................................................... 29 Protective Factors Within the Community ............................... 30 Risk and Resilience: Contextual Influences on the Development of Adolescent African American Males .. .32 Development Tasks During Adolescence ...................... 34 Risks and the Development of African American Adolescents ........................... 3 5 E-viderce ofResilience in African American Adolescents ........................... 38 Implications for Educating African American Adolescents .......................... .40 Conclusions ........................................................................... 41 3. THE RESEARCH Theoretical Perspectives .......................................................... 44 Goals of the Study .................................................................. 44 Site Selection ................................................................ 46 Sample .......................................................................... 47 Research Questions ................................................................. 48 Research Purpose and Goals ................................................... 49 Data Collection ....................................................................... 52 Interviews ............................................................................... 53 Data Analysis and Coding ...................................................... .53 viii

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Delimitations of the Study -------------------------------------------55 Limitations of the Study-----------------------------------------------55 Summary ------------------------------------------------------------------------------Conclusion: Qualitative Methods, Validity, and Reliability --------------------------------------------57 4. FINDINGS -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------59 The Research Setting------------------------------------------------------------.62 Metropolitan Community ___________ ... ............ ----------......... 62 Metropolitan Community Residents .............................. 62 Metropolitan High School ........ ...... ..... ............ ..... ..... .. .. 67 The Students ... ............................................................. 67 The Staff ..................... -------------------------------------------------68 Case Study Data. ..................................................................... 70 Case Study #1: Larry ------------------------------------------------------------71 Larry's Background ............ ... ... ........ ..... ........... .... ....... 71 Protective Factors in Family ......... .......... ...... ......... .... .. 72 Protective Factors in SchooL ........................................ 72 Protective Factors in the Community ............................ 74 Case Study #2: Teny ............................... .... ........................ .. 76 Terry's Background .................... ...... ............................ 76 Protective Factors in Family .......................................... 76 Protective Factors in SchooL .................. ..... .......... ..... 78 Protective Factors in the Community ............................ 79 Case Study #3: Jasper ............................................................ 81 Jasper's Background ................... ...... ............................ 81 Protective Factors in Family ... .............. ... ...................... 81 Protective Factors in SchooL ........................................ 82 ix

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Protective Factors in the Community ----------------------------83 Case Study #4: Steve -------------------------------------------------------------84 Steve's Background ------------------------------------------------------84 Protective Factors in Family ....... -----------------------------------84 Protective Factors in SchooL ..... -----------------------------------86 Protective Factors in the Community ----------------------------87 Summary of Case Studies and Early Findings -------------------------87 Conclusion ........ ----------------------------------------------------------------------88 5. THEMES EMERGING FROM ANALYSES OF SUBJECTS ......... 90 Summary of the Methodology .............. -----------------------------------91 The Research Questions/Problem ........ _______ ..... ____ ._ ...... ____ ... ___ .. 92 Emerging Themes: Profile of the Resilient Child .................... 92 Social Competence -------------------------------------------------------94 Problem Solving Skills ............... -----------------------------------94 Resourcefulness ........ ----------------------------------------------------95 Adaptation ................ ----------------------------------------------------95 Autonomy--------------------------------------------------------------------98 Family Effects --------------------------------------------------------------99 Sense ofPurpose and Future ...... ---------------------------------100 Summary -------------------------------------------------------------------101 6. SUMMARY, CONCLUSION, RECOMMENDATIONS --------------103 Summary of Study --------------------------------------------------------------103 Summary ofFindings .......... --------------------------------------------------104 Conclusions ------------------------------------------------------------------------107 Why Focus on Young Black Males? -----------------------------------107 Impediments to the Development of Black Male Adolescents ............. --------------------------------108 X

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The Development of Adolescent Black Males ....................... IIO Social Behavior .......................................................... Ill Authenticity ................................................................ 1 I 1 Language and Speech ................................................. I I 1 Style ........................................................................... I2 Implications for Education African American Males ............. I2 Recommendations ........................ .. ....................................... 1 I 3 APPENDIX IN"TER.VIEW GUIDE ............................................................................ 1 I 5 REFERENCES ............................................ .................. ........................ ............ l20 XI

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Figures 2.1 Profile of the Resilient Child ........................................................... 23 3.1 Protective Factors that Promote Resiliency ...................................... 51 4.1 Profile of a Student with Characteristics of Resiliency ..................... 61 4.2 Characteristics of Students Residing in Metropolitans New Attendance Area ................................... 69 xu

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Tables 3.1 Connecting Research and Factors That Play a Significant Role in Resilience ............................... 50 4.1 Denver Crime Report -------------------------------------------------------------------63 Xlll

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CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION In her book, Young. Black. and Male in America, Gibbs (I 988) states that the young Black male intrudes on the nation's consciousness and appeals to the nation's conscience. Many of these young people live in urban cities where poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are commonplace, and high stress affects both home and school environments, as well as the functioning of the family. From her research, Gibbs (I 988) suggests that in some of our poorer, urban cities, the plight of young Black males is worsening, their pain is growing, and their anger is escalating. While every other demographic group has made progress in the last 25 years in terms of the major social indicators, Black males in the 15 to 24 year old age group have performed less well on five out of six of these social indicators. More recent data from the 1990 Census and other federal government sources indicate that, compared to 1970, more Black males are unemployed, assigned to the juvenile justice system, involved in substance abuse, fathering babies out of wedlock, and committing suicide (U.S. Department ofCommerce I993a). Of the problems besetting the poor, inner-city Black community, none is more pressing than that of interpersonal violence and aggression. It wreaks havoc daily with the lives of community residents and increasingly spills over into downtown and residential middle-class areas. Muggings, burglaries, car-jackings, and drug-related shootings, all of which may leave their victims or innocent bystanders dead, are now I

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common enough to concern all urban and many suburban residents. The inclination to violence springs from the circumstances of life among the ghetto poor, the lack of jobs that pay a living wage, the stigma of race, the fallout from rampant drug use and drug trafficking, and the resulting alienation and lack of hope for the future (Anderson, 1994). In the article, "Code of the Streets," Anderson (1994) suggests that simply living in such an environment places young people at special risk of falling victim to aggressive behavior. Although there are often forces in the community which can counteract the negative influences, by far the most powerful are a strong, loving, "decent,"(as inner-city residents put it) family committed to middle-class values. The despair is pervasive enough to have spawned an oppositional culture, that of"the streets," whose norms are often consciously opposed to those of mainstream society. As Anderson describes in his article: "These two orientations, "decent and street," socially organize the community and their coexistence has important consequences for residents, particularly children growing up in the inner-city. Above all, this environment means that even youngsters whose home lives reflect mainstream values, and the majority of homes in the community do, must be able to handle themselves in a street-oriented environment." (p.82) Margaret Wang (1994) states, "that as the decade of the 1990s unfolds, the nation, s attention has been captured by the plight of children and families in a variety of risk circumstances, and by the urgency for interventions that foster resilience and life chances of all children and youth, and families, particularly those in at-risk circumstances, such as the inner-city communities." (p.45) In response to such challenges, a problem begs for analysis. What are the protective mechanisms that foster healthy development and learning success of adolescent African American males? 2

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Background of the Problem "To be African American and male in school and society places one at risk for a variety of negative consequences. Although a number of African American males have made it into the mainstream of society and contribute significantly to the national labor force, the residual effects of 200 years of enslavement and another 100 years of legal discrimination cannot be denied Particularly distressing are the multiplicity of problems facing adolescent males in urban America-problems that are too often manifested as gang activity, negative peer pressure, anti-school attitudes, and drug trafficking. Historically, however, African American males have played an integral part in the lives of their families and communities. This conclusion is based on the common experiences of ordinary African males in schools and families who lead ordinary lives in stable families and communities Their unheralded lives and experiences daily contradict the widely held contemporary notion that a viable and adaptive population of African American men fail to develop and flourish in Black communities across the U.S." (Polite, 1995). "At the core of the African American males' experience in school and society is a record of persistence and triumph that has been overshadowed by the literature and discourse focusing primarily on the social pathology of African American men. While many African American males are achieving at commendable levels and are navigating the academic and social cmrents of their lives, young African American males, as a group, remain at risk for numerous social, economic, and education ills." (Davis, 1995). Gibbs (1988) poses the question: Who are these Black youth who are increasingly subjected to the belated scrutiny of social scientists, educators, policy makers, and the mass media? Gibbs (1988) describes them as follows: They are Black males in the 15-to 24-year-old age group who live predominantly in urban inner-city 3

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neighborhoods, but also can be found in rural areas, working-class and small towns all over America They are the teenagers and young adults from families at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum, many of whom are welfare-dependent and live below the poverty line. They are the Black youth who are seen when one drives through inner-city ghetto neighborhoods, hanging out on dimly lit street comers, playing basketball on littered school lots, selling dope in darkened alleys, and "rapping" in front of pool halls and bars. The media refer to them by a variety of labels: "dropouts," "delinquents," '"dope addicts," "street-smart dudes," "welfare pimps," and even more pejoratively, as members of the "underclass." They refer to themselves as '"home boys," "hardheads," "bloods," and "soul brothers." Gibbs {1988) suggests that Black males are portrayed by the mass media in a limited number of roles, most of them deviant, dangerous, and dysfunctionaL This constant barrage of predominantly disturbing images inevitably contributes to the public's negative stereotypes ofBlack men, particularly those who are perceived as young, hostile, and impulsive. The disproportionate involvement of Black males in criminal and delinquent activities has been reported on and analyzed by a number of researchers since the early 20th century. Many contemporary scholars focus on what has been construed and is now generally perceived as a crime "wave'' whose major protagonists are young Black males. Recent statistical analysis ofBlack male criminality is dominated by documentation of the proliferation ofhomicides of and by young Black males in which firearms were involved (Fingerhut, Ingram, & Feldman, 1992). Statistics on Black male crime and incarceration are standard and are a prominently featured portion of most popular and scholarly treatments of the dilemmas facing poor Black males and the communities in which they live. 4

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However, this researcher looked at the successful young men in those same communities and asked two questions: What are the protective mechanisms that foster healthy development and learning success of adolescent African American males? What are the factors in resiliency that have contributed to school success for the adolescent African American male? The literature reveals that Black males are arrested for committing crimes at a substantially higher rate than are their White male counterparts (Mauer, 1994). In 1989,23 percent ofBlack males between the ages of20 and 29 had come in contact with the U.S. criminal justice system {Mauer, 1994). According to U.S. Department ofCommerce (1993a) statistics for 1991, 29 percent of all persons arrested for serious crime, more than 50 percent of those arrested for murder and robbery, and 50 percent of all prisoners executed were Black. Mauer (1994) further notes that Blacks made up 44 percent of all prisoners and 40 percent of those on death row in 1989. Indeed, the number of African Americans incarcerated in the U.S. exceeds the number enrolled in its institutions ofhigher education, and costs the nation's taxpayers an estimated $8.9 billion per year (Mauer, 1994, p.83). The purpose of this study is to investigate how Afiican American males become not merely "problem free,,, but also confident and competent despite living in adversity. Purpose Statement and Research Questions This study will examine through qualitative case study research the following purpose statement and research questions: 5

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Pw:pose Statement Why are some adolescent African American who live in urban settings where poverty and unemployment rates are drugs and violent crimes are and high stress affects both home and school more resilient than others and are able to cope successfully in school and in the community? Research Questions 1. What are the protective mechanisms that foster healthy development and learning success of selected adolescent African American males? 2. What are the factors in resiliency that have contributed to school success for selected adolescent African American males? After decades of relying primarily on pathology/cultural deviance theories. research on Black adolescents is now turning to an exploration of the sources and mechanisms that underlie competent and healthy functioning (Jones, 1989; McKenry, Everett, Ramseur, & 1989; Spencer, Brookins, & Allen, 1985). One motivation for the shift is the search for solutions to the problems of African American youths. Another reason is the desire to broaden knowledge about this population across biological, psychosocial, and ecological domains (Bell-Scott & Taylor, I 989). This qualitative study examined the developmental tasks of adolescent African American males, the major environmental risks that confront African American males, evidence of resilience in light of the risks faced, and explanations for the observed adaptation, and implications for the education of African American males. 6

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Theoretical Framework The study explored, and identified so-called "protective factors'' or those conditions that foster resiliency in the Black male despite the negative odds they face. Benard (1992) describes a resilient child as one who is socially competent, self efficacious, and an effective problem-solver who is able to negotiate through a web of adversity. Benard (1992) indicates that the following protective factors present in the family, school, and community serve as buffers against those variables that put children at risk of unhealthy behavior such as violence: a positive, caring relationship with an adult, high expectations for behavior and abilities, and opportunities for meaningful participation and involvement. A phrase occurring often in the literature sums up the resilient child as one who "works well, plays well, loves well, and expects welL" (Gannezy, 1974; Werner & Smith, 1982). This study will use the Benard Framework in examining resilience in African American males. Implications of the Problem Along with limited education, the major social and economic problems of young African American males clearly demonstrate that they are an endangered group and a population "at risk" for an escalating cycle of deviance, dysfunction, and despair (Jones, 1989). What are the implications of these problems, if they are left unsolved, for Black males, Black families, and the larger society? Gibbs ( 1988) suggests the major implications can be projected in five areas: economic, social, socioculture, political, and academic. 7

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Economic Implications Demographers predict that non-White youth (80 percent of whom will be Black) will constitute 20 percent of the youth population under age 17 by the year 2000 and 23 percent by 2020 (Ozawa. 1986). Similarly, 16 percent of the labor force in the 16-to 24-year-old age group will be non-White by 2000. In fact, the net increase in the labor force between 1985 and 2000 will come primarily from non Whites, immigrants, and women, with native non-White males constituting 8 percent of the labor force in 2000. Moreover, an increasing proportion of these non-White workers, particularly Blacks and Hispanics, will be recruited from disadvantaged backgrounds from which they have experienced poverty, school failure. and minimal work experience (U.S. Dept. of Labor, 1987). Social Implications What is the relationship, if any, between the alarming increase in femaleheaded households among Blacks and the statistics on Black male unemployment? Wilson and Neckennan (1984) presented a well-documented scholarly analysis concerning this relationship. After examining demographic trends in employment and in family patterns since before World War II, they concluded that the increase in female-headed households is strongly associated with the deteriorating status of Black males in the labor market. They show, for example, that participation of Black males in the labor force declined from 84 percent in 1940 to 67 percent in 1980, and more recently to 62.4 percent in 1993 (Hornor, 1995). Wilson and Neckerman ( 1984) also point out that the historical relationship between unemployment and marital instability has been consistently found for Black and White families. Moreover, they have also devised a "male marriageable pool index," which is the number of employed, single civilian men to the number of single women of the same race and age group. If Black males between 16 and 24 who are 8

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unemployed, incarcerated, or victims of homicide or suicide are subtracted, this index shows a sharp decline in the ratio ofBlack males to Black females since the 1960s. The significant point is that there has been an absolute long-term decline in the proportion of young Black men who are both available and eligible to support a family. Wilson and Neckerman (1984) make a compelling argument that this imbalance in the pool of young Black, "marriageable" men results in higher rates of out-of-wedlock because so many of these young men are not nor willing, to support a family. Sociocultural Implications One of the major consequences of lack of education and lack of employment among young Black males is their disproportionate involvement in the juvenile justic-.e which results in severe limitations on their future educational and occupational opportunities; creates a vicious cycle of delinquency, and recidivism; and results in an adult lifestyle of chronic criminality or chronic unemployment and marginal social adaptation. Scholars have debated for many years as to whether these behaviors reflect a "culture of poverty," a "dysfunctional" Black family structure, or behavioral responses to socioeconomic forces. Despite scholarly efforts to reconceptualize the structure and functioning of the low-income Black family, it is both naive and dangerous to ignore the symptoms of social frustration, and social alienation in the inner-city ghettos. The lifestyle of antisocial behaviors, drug exploitative and hostile relationships with women, confrontational relationships with police and other and very high-risk activities is also a major concern for Black males living in the inner-city ghettos. These attitudes and activities may well be individual and/or collective responses to deny these Black males access to equal opportunity and social mobility. 9

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Political Implications Gibbs ( 1988) states that the implications of a potential disaffected and dysfunctional located in the rapidly expanding urban areas of the nation, are truly disturbing_ If this trend is not reversed, these young Black males might very well find themselves in a second period of involuntary servitude, only this time it would be based on involuntary dependence on, and subjugation to, government social welfare programs. She continues to say that urban ghettos are rapidly becoming ''welfare plantations," cut off from the vital urban centers of culture and commerce by inadequate transportation, lack of an economic base, and lack of political power. Academic Achievement Implications African American students continue to lag well behind Whites in key measures of academic achievement, including SAT scores, reading proficiency, and college enrollment (HilL 1990). Social scientists and educators have focused on the lack of success of children of color for generations, yet there is a dearth of research focusing on achievement within the African American population. Explaining why some African American students do well in school while others do poorly remains one of the most important and controversial problems in public education today (Cummings, 1974). Methodological Design As the year 2000 approaches, the nation's attention must focus on the plight of children and families in a variety of risk circumstances, and the urgency for interventions that foster resilience and life chances of all children and youth. Problems of great severity exist for many children, youth, and families, particularly those in at-risk circumstances, such as the inner-city communities where many of our young Black males live. The quality oflife available to children and families in these 10

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communities is threatened by a perilous set of modern morbidities that often involve poverty, lack of employment opportunities, disorderly and stressful environments, poor health care, children borne by and highly fragmented patterns of service. In responding to such challenges, the researcher refers back to an earlier question: What are the factors that strengthen the resources and protective mechanisms for fostering healthy development and learning success of children and youth? The context of this study, school success, resiliency, and the adolescent A.frictzn Americtm nuzle, will lead to an investigation of the likelihood of success in school and in other life accomplishments, despite environmental adversities brought about by early traits, conditions, and experiences. The site for this qualitative case study is a high school in the Denver Metro community where poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are commonplace, and high stress affects home and school environments, as well as family functioning. The subjects are graduates from the classes of 1997 and 1998 The study examined the resilience, schooling, and development in these young men. Since there is a deep and growing concern over substance use and crime by young Black males of this age group, and the over representation of this group in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems, my research will be directed at adolescent Black males who have "overcome the odds.,, The qualitative data collection for this study involved observing and interviewing. LeCompte & Preissle ( 1993) state that the most common categories of data collection used by ethnographic and qualitative researchers are interviewing, researcher-designed instruments, and content analysis of human artifacts. The data collection used by this researcher was observation and interviewing. 11

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Strauss and Corbin (1990) identify the three major components for qualitative research as data, analytic or interpretive procedures, and written and verbal reports. The field notes collected in this study included personal contacts, observations and interviews with the young men and with their parents, teachers, and residents who live in the community. A middle school in the Metropolitan Community was selected to identify ten Black males who were successful academically and socially while attending middle school. They were young men, who the middle school personnel felt would be successful at any high school they attended, even though they come from a neighborhood where poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are commonplace, and high stress affects both home and school environments. The main criteria were that the young men had lived in the Metropolitan Community since early childhood and had "overcome the odds" to be successful in middle school and high school. I will discuss more about the selection of the participants and the criteria that were used in Chapter 3. The stakes and findings of the inquiry are great. Given people's increasing willingness to think about, understand and address the impact of violence on the lives ofBlack male children, what can we learn about the capacity to bounce back that can help us bolster strengths in young people, families, schools, and communities? These were big questions, but the hope for this study was to find new ways of strengthening individual children and families by increasing our understanding of endurance, prevention, and adaptation. Summary '"Resilience" is a wonderful deriving as it does from the Latin resilire, meaning ''to jump or spring back." 12

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In considering resilience., it is useful to remember a few key concepts: risk and protective factors., stress., coping, adaptation., and prevention.. Studies of resilience focused originally on experiences with particular kinds of stresses: natural concentration living with a parent with a severe psychiatric disorder, severe adjustment difficulties that can manifest themselves in alternative engagement and disruption in schools; chronic illness., and maternal deprivation.. The literature suggests that there are two different kinds of variables that contribute to resilience. One has to do with individual dispositionsthe individual neurology, intelligence., and temperament with which we are born. The other category of variables reflects our social environment-the families into which we are born and the social setting in which we live. The importance of this research was to examine and explain how resiliency and the protective factors in the family, school., and the community can affect the young Black ability to succeed. My hope was that this study would explain how resiliency and the protective factors could prevent the escalating cycles of deviance and dysfunctional behavior of young African American males. However, it is unlikely that the findings in this study will be able to show immediate results in the mitigation of youth criminal activities. It was necessary, however, to examine protective factors and the process of resilience and their roles in interventions with selected adolescents so that they will be better equipped to deal with the realities that they will face as they enter their young adult years. 13

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CHAPTER2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE This chapter examines the literature and the research related to fostering resiliency in the African American males and the protective factors in the family, and community. The literature review will also examine developmental tasks of adolescent African American males and prevention strategies that strengthen protective factors in the families, schools, and communities of the young African American male. Introduction/Background of Problem Along with limited education, the major social and economic problems of young African American males clearly demonstrate that they are an endangered group and a population "at risk" for an escalating cycle of deviance, dysfunction, and despair (Jones, 1989). Many of these young people live in major urban cities where poveny, and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are commonplace, and high stress affects both home and school environments. as well as the functioning of the family (McLoyd, 1989). A question that should be asked and studied: What are the implications of these problems. if they are left unsolved for Black males, Black families, and the larger society? The literature suggests that the Black community is now reaping the bitter harvest of decades of neglect of the plight of its young people, by national policies that have failed to eradicate their poveny, failed to equip them with education for an information society, and failed to replace discriminatory barriers with equal 14

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opportunity. The resuh is that young Black males, as Gibbs (1988) suggests, have become an endangered species, with more young Black men added each year to the ranks ofthe poor, the jobless, and the homeless. The impact on the Black family, the Black economy. and on individual lives has been devastating. Walter Gill (1995) suggests that African American males are in a war. and that war is becoming a nightmare for the general society. As a group, these men are losing in their efforts to grow and survive in this society. In urban America this group has taken the brunt of the blows if statistics are the measure. The disparities between African American males and other males in the population are appalling in employment. real income, and those living at or near the poverty level. Black teenagers face an unemployment rate of 57 percent and unprecedented levels of poverty while impoverishment and hunger become the rule of the day. But what sets Black youth off from their White counterparts is that the preferred method of containing White teenagers is through constitutional controls exercised through schooling where working-class youth suffer the effects of school choice programs, tracking, and vocationalization.. On the other hand. Black youth are increasingly subjected to the draconian strategies of"tagging" surveillance, or more oven harassment and imprisonment through the criminal justice system (Parenti, 1994 ). Recent statistics based on 1995 Justice Department figures reveal the full scope of this policy by indicating that one in three Black men in their 20s is either imprisoned, on probation, or under the supervision of the criminal justice system on any given day in America (Butterfield, 1996). Homicide for African American males, ages 15 to 24, is the leading cause of death; they suffer higher death rates from heart disease, strokes, cancer, liver 15

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In his commentary, "Discipline and Demographics" (Casserly, 1996) writes that the days before Washington hosted the "Million Man March" in 1996 and the African American Leadership Summit" in the fall of 1995, the U.S. Department of Justice released a report showing that one-third of the African American men between the ages of20 and 29 are in the criminal justice system, either in prison or in jail awaiting trial, on probation, or paroled. Unfortunately, America's schools helped put many of them where they are. How? The process is well known. It starts on a child's first day of school and continues subtly throughout his or her academic career. School children are tracked, sorted, labeled, and pigeonholed. Some are chronically detained, expelled, suspended, or removed. Either they are "pushed out,, or they are graduated, knowing little. Either way, they have failed and have been failed (Casserly, pp. 16-20). Casserly suggests that the honing process creates public schools that look very much like demographic prisons, with the least preferred children holding the short straw, and with the career path between schools and prisons becoming all too direct. The process is grounded in our often-subliminal perceptions of children according to race, class, religion, sex, disability, and demeanor, and is acted out by teachers, administrators, and others. Then, it is legitimized with arguments for greater discipline and instructional serenity. The Polite (1995) article, "The Method in the Madness": "African American males, avoidance schooling, and chaos theory," examines the social context of schooling of a cohort of 115 African American males who attended a mid-western high schooL He drew upon elements of chaos theory, a construct emerging from the field of quantum physics; it explores the systematic methods of avoidance schooling behaviors invoked by these students. Polite suggested that the chaos theory seems 16

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particularly helpful in that it provides a holistic framework for explaining the impactof pervasive and possibly harmful patterns of institutional, and individual behaviors imbedded within disordered school systems Polite concludes his article by suggesting the most disconcerting dilemma facing urban educationalists today is the lack of effective strategies for changing the poor educational and social outcomes of the African American males who attend public schools across the nation. His article highlighted the reclusive patterns of avoidance schooling which collectively resulted in widespread underpreparation for a cohort of African American males and a climate of seemingly unexplainable chaos at one public high schooL the literature explains the growing body of crosscultur'aL longitudinal studies that provide scientific evidence that many even those with multiple and severe risks in their can develop into and caring adults" (Werner & 1992); and discusses the critical role schools can play in this process. Resilience in Individual Development : Successful Adaptation Despite Risk and Adversity Understanding resilience requires that obstacles to adaptation be understood and that the standard or definition of: adaptive behavior be delineated Adaptation in the study of as in the study of developmental is defined in terms of the attainment of psychosocial milestones called developmental tasks (Masten & Braswel4 1991). Developmental tasks represent broadly defined standards or expectations for behavior at various points in the life span. Resilience in an individual refers to successful adaptation despite risk and adversity. 17

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Three major studies of resilience were conducted during the 1970s and 1980s. These studies (Garmezy & 1983; Murphy & 1976; Werner 1982) examined several personal variables in relation to resilience. In general, results indicated that a number of personal variables were related to resilience. These variables included sensitivity, inner controL cooperativeness, and cognitive superiority. these findings were based mostly on clinical observations and anecdotes, with some of the findings based on data from surveys and standardized instruments. Two more contemporary works on resilience in youth and adolescents have been published recently 1991; Wmfield, 1991). These studies represent an improvement over past studies in several respects. For example, the Luthar (1991) study was more systematic than were past studies. It examined personal variables using more standardized measurements. The Luthar study contained 144 subjects from the inner-city. The majority of the students represented three ethnicities. Among these subjects, 45 percent were African American, 30 percent were Hispanic, and the remaining students were comprised of Caucasians and others. The mean socioeconomic standing of the students fell in the second to lowest level of the Hollingshead Two Factor Index (Hollingshead, 1965). A total of nine students were classified as resilient in the main analyses. These students met the criterion for resilience: high competence despite high stress. Another twelve students were considered indicating low competence and high stress. An additional eleven students comprised another comparison group of low stress high achievers. As was stated previously, the method and measurements in the Luthar (1991) study were systematic and standardized. The multitude of measures was used to discern which of a wide array of variables were protective and which was wlnerability inducing. 18

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The results indicated several important differences between the three groups. Protective factors are those that moderate the impact of stress on competence; that is, stress does not have as deleterious an impact on competence when accompanied by protective factors (Masten et aL,. 1988). Protective factors that aided the resilient students included internal locus of control (Nowicki & Strickland, 1973} and social skills. Surprisingly, vulnerability factors included intelligence and positive life events. It seems tr.at intelligence made the students more sensitive to their environment, which adversely interacted with stress. The Wmfield (1991} publication was an edited volume, a special edition of Education and Urban Society. This publication contained a number of studies of resilient African American youth. These studies examined such personal variables as biculturality, academic behaviors, and academic aspirations. These studies also examined some contextual variables such as peer acceptance, school and extracurricular activities. One study even examined resiliency in relation to a situational factor: teen motherhood. One of the greatest obstacles facing African American students is the fact that their culture differs from the mainstream culture. Clark ( 1991) examined resiliency in the face of this obstacle and found that it can be overcome by taking on a bicultural identity. This is the process through which some African American students maintain an identity with some behaviors of their own culture yet allow themselves to become socialized in the mainstream. These students are able to function acceptably in both cultures. However, not all students are able to achieve biculturality. Valentine (1971} described biculturality as the ability to draw simultaneously on standardized African American group behavior and on behaviors accepted by the mainstream cuitural system. Bicultural people actively participate in both cultures, have extensive interactions within each environment, and adopt behaviors that allow them to adjust to a variety of different environmental demands. Biculturation results 19

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from socialization in both which begins at birth and continues throughout life. (p.42) One ofthe most influential studies in the field involved a cohon of children born on the Hawaiian Island ofKauai in 1955 and traced over 30 years by Werner and Smith (Werner, 1982; Werner & Smith, 1982, 1992). Based on risk factors evident in the first two years of life that predicted maladaptive outcomes at 10, 11, and 18 years of age, about one-third of this cohon was designated '"high risk" because the children had four or more risk factors. Risk factors included poverty, parental stress, family discord, and low parental education. About one-third of this high risk group (1 0 percent of the cohon) was identified as resilient because group members had adapted well in childhood and adolescence. As adolescents, these resilient youth were more responsible, mature, achievement motivated, and socially connected than their less competent high-risk contemporaries. Early assessments suggested that these resilient adolescents had a number of early advantages, including good relationships with their caregivers, more attention and less separation from their caregivers, less family conflict, exposure to fewer life stressors, and better physical health. New programs designed to serve African American males emerge almost monthly, many in the conceptualization or early implementation stage and documented only through local new stories (Lacy, 1992). However, a scattering of empirical evidence and other data are beginning to emerge about the effects of alternative programs for African American males that have been implemented. Many current school and community-based programs for African American males reflect common characteristics (Ascher, 1992). These include (a) male role models and male bonding, (b) identity creation and self-esteem, (c) academic values and social skills, (d) parents and community strengthening, (e) transition to manhood, and (f) a safe haven. 20

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The Nature of Resilience In considering resilience, it is useful to remember a few concepts: risk and protective factors; stress; coping and adaptation; and prevention. Studies of resilience focused originally on children's experiences with particular kinds of stresses: natural disasters, wars, concentration camps; living with a parent with a severe psychiatric disorder; severe adjustment difficulties that can manifest themselves in alternative engagement and disruption in schools; chronic illness; and maternal deprivation. The literature suggests that there are two different kinds of variables that contribute to resilience. One has to do with individual dispositions, the individual neurology, intelligence, and temperament with which we are born. The other category of variables reflects our social environment, the families into which we are born, and the social settings in which we live. In recem decades, researchers trying to learn why some children are more resiliem than others have studied numerous cohorts of children in an attempt to identify so-called protective factors, or those conditions that foster resiliency in young people despite the negative odds they face (Benard, 1992). This research examines protective factors that contribute to the development of young Black males who are exposed to factors that put them at risk of a number of problems, including delinquency, drug and alcohol abuse, and school failure, but nonetheless avoid these problems and develop into healthy and successful high school students. Bonnie Benard describes a resilient child as one who is socially competent, self-efficacious, and an effective problem-solver who is able to negotiate through a web of adversity. 21

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Resilient children, described by Garmezy (1974) as working and playing well and holding high expectations, have often been characterized using constructs such as locus of control, self-esteem, self -efficacy, and autonomy. Resilience research validates prior research and theory in human development that bas clearly established the biological imperative for growth and development that exists in the human organism and that unfolds naturally in the presence of certain environmental characteristics. We are all born with an innate capacity for by which we are able to develop social competence, problem-solving a critical consciousness, autonomy, and a sense of purpose (Benard, 1991 ). See Figure 2.1. Social competence includes qualities such as responsiveness, especially the ability to elicit positive responses from flexibility, including the ability to move between different cultures; empathy; communication skills; and a sense of humor. Problem-solving skills encompass the ability to plan; to be resourceful in seeking help from others; and to think critically, creatively, and reflectively. Autonomy is having a sense of one's own identity and an ability to act independently and to exert some control over one's environment, including a sense of task mastery, internal locus of control, and self-efficacy. The development of resistance (refusing to accept negative messages about oneself) and of detachment (distancing oneself from dysfunction) serve as powerful protectors of autonomy. Lastly, resilience is manifested in having a sense of meaning and purpose and a belief in a bright future, including goal direction, educational aspirations, achievement motivation, persistence, hopefulness, optimism, and spiritual connectedness. From Benard's research on resilience (1991}, from the literature on school effectiveness (Comer, 1984; 1986; Rutter; 1979), and from a rich body of 22

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Figure 2.1 Profile of the Resilient Child Category of Resilience Characteristic Social Competence Responsive Flexible Empathetic and caring Communicates well Has sense ofhumor Problem Solving Skills Has good critical thinking skills Has good planning skills Flexible Imaginative ResourcefuVtakes initiative Insightful Autonomy Self-esteem, self-efficacy Control over environment Self-aware Sense of mastery Adaptive distancing Independent Sense of Meaning and Special interest Purpose Goal directed Educational aspirations Achievement motivations Persistent Hopeful and optimistic Compelling future Faith/spiritual Coherence/meaningfulness Adapted from: Benard, B. ( 1991 ). 'Cf ostering Resiliency in Kids: Protective Factors in the Family, Schools, and Community," San Francisco: Western Regional Center for-Drug-Free Schools and Communities. 23

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ethnographic studies in which we hear the voices of youth, families., and teachers explaining their successes and failures (Heath & McLaughlin, 1993; Weis & 1993); a clear picture emerges of those characteristics of the family, and community which enable individuals to circumvent life stressors and manifest resilience despite risk. These "protective factors" or "protective processes" can be grouped into three major categories: caring and supportive positive and high expectations, and opportunities for meaningful participation. In this literature review and later I discuss the three categories within the framework of the family, the and the community and how it correlates to the study of resilience, school success, and the African American male. Protective Factors Within the Family From the literature, what clearly emerges as a powerful predictor of the outcome for children and youth is the quality of the immediate caregiving environment, which is determined by the following characteristics: Caring and Sul}l}Ort What is evident from nearly all the research into the family environments of resilient children is that, "despite the burden of parental psychopathology, family discord, or chronic most children identified as resilient have had the opportunity to establish a close bond with at least one person (not necessarily their mother or father) who provided them with stable care and from whom they received adequate and appropriate attention during the first year of life, (quote from Werner, 1990). According to Feldman, Stiffman, and Jung, "The social relationships among family members are by far the best predictors of children's behavioral outcomes, (1987). Furthermore, Rutter's research found that even in cases of an extremely 24

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troubled home environment, "a good relationship with one parent" (defined in terms of the presence of"high warmth and absence of severe criticism} provides a substantial protective effect. Only one-fourth of the children in the troubled families studied by Rutter showed signs of conduct disorder if they had a single, good relationship with a parent, compared to three-fourths of the children who lacked such a relationship (I 979). High Expectations Research into why some children growing up in poverty still manage to be successful in school and in young adulthood has consistently identified high parental expectations as the contributing factor (Williams & Kornblum, 1985; Clark, 1983). A number of investigations (Clark, 1983; Greenberg & Davidson, 1972) have examined high-and low-achieving, economically disadvantaged African American pre-adolescents and adolescents. The high-achieving subsamples in this work consisted of individuals who, despite living in poor. inner-city neighborhoods. managed to do well in school. Several factors appeared to separate high-achieving from low-achieving students, including the organization of their homes and the nature of their parenting experiences. Interpreting these findings, Clark ( 1983) suggested that the parents of high achieving adolescents appear more likely to employ authoritative parenting practices in the home rather than the parents oflow-achieving adolescents. Authoritative parenting involves a constellation of behavior. Similarly, in a sample of younger children, Scheinfeld (1983) found that parents ofhigh achievers encouraged self motivation, autonomy, and engagement of the environment, whereas parents oflow achievers discouraged autonomy and engagement of the environment. The processes underlying these differences in parental behavior, such as parent personality 25

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differences or differences attributable to the social environment experienced by the family deserve further attention. Similarly, the work ofMills (1990) with parents living in an impoverished housing project in Miami demonstrated the power of a parental attitude that "sees clearly the potential for maturity, common sense, for learning and well-being in their children." According to Mills, an attitude expressed to a youth that, "You have everything you need to be successful and you can do it," played a major role in the reduction of several problem behaviors, including substance abuse, in this disadvantaged community. Furthermore, families that establish high expectations for their children s behavior from an early age play a role in developing resiliency in their children. Norma Haan, whose research on the development of morality in young children. clearly challenges prior assumptions ofFreucL Piaget, and Kohlberg that young children are morally deficient, i.e., self-serving, writes, "Young children have the same basic moral understandings and concerns as adolescents and young adults, (1989). Encourage Children's Participation A natural outgrowth of having high expectations for children is that they are acknowledged as valued participants in the life and work of their family. Research has borne out that the family background of resilient children is usually characterized by many opportunities for the children to participate and contribute in meaningful ways. For example, Werner and Smith found that assigned chores, domestic responsibilities (including care of siblings), and even pan-time work to help support the family proved to be sources of strength and competence for resilient children (1982}. When children are given responsibilities, the message is clearly 26

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communicated that they are worthy and capable ofbeing contributing members of the family. In addition to holding high expectations of children (i e., that they will succeed in school and become good citizens in their community), households that are structured and employ consistent discipline, rules, and regulations produce better outcomes among children from at-risk families (Bennett, Woling, & Reiss, 1988). Protective Factors Within the School In the last decade the literature on the power of the school to influence the outcome for children from high-risk environmems has burgeoned (Austin, I 991; Brook, 1989; Cauce & Srebnik, 1990; Rutter, 1984; Rutter, 1979, Berruelta-Clement, 1984; Coleman & Hoffer, 1987; Comer, 1984; Nelson, 1984; Offord, 1991; Feiner, 1985; Ziegler, 1989; Edmunds, 1986). The evidence demonstrating that a school can serve as a "protective shield to help children withstand the multiple vicissitudes that they can expect of a stressful world" abounds, whether it is coming from a family environment devastated by alcoholism or mental illness or from a poverty-stricken community environment, or both (Garmezy, 1991 ). Furthermore, both protective factor research and research on effective schools clearly identify the characteristics of schools that provide this source of protection for youth. And, what was found was most interesting; they parallel the protective factors found in the family environments of resilient youth! Caring and Support Just as in the family arena, the level of caring and support within the school is a powerful predictor of positive outcome for youth. While according to Werner, '"Only a few studies have explored the role of teachers as protective buffers in the 27

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lives of children who overcome great adversity, these few do provide moving evidence of this phenomenon," (1990). While the importance of the teacher as caregiver cannot be overemphasized, a factor often overlooked that has definitely emerged from protective factor research is the role of caring peers and friends in the school and community environments. Research into the resilience of"street gamins" clearly identifies peer support as critical to the survival of these youth (Felsman, 1989). The academic achievement of at-risk students is the product not only of a child's intellectual ability, but also the school's climate and the social support networks available from families. Clark ( 1991) stated that after the family, peers are the most important source of support. Social support networks from peers provide children and adolescents with a sense of being valued, cared for, and loved. These support networks not only facilitate the development of an individual, but also serve as a shield against stress. Similarly, Werner found caring friends a major factor in the development of resiliency in her disadvantaged population (Werner & Smith, 1982). Coleman ( 1987) cites the positive outcomes for youth who have lived with their peers in boarding schools when their families were no longer able to be supportive. And, convincing evidence for the role of peers in reducing alcohol and drug use are the findings of two meta-analyses (comparing the effects of more than 200 studies) that concluded peer programs (including cooperative learning strategies) are the single, most effective school-based approach for reducing alcohol and drug use in youth (Tobler, 1986; Sanger-Drowns, 1988). Obviously, resilient youth are those youth who have and take the opportunity to fulfill the basic human need for social support, caring, and love. If this is unavailable to them in their immediate family environments, it is imperative that the school and other community agencies provide the opportunities to develop caring relationships with both adults and other youth. 28

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High Expectations As with the family environment, research has identified that schools that establish high expectation for all kids, and give them the support necessary to achieve them, have incredibly high rates of academic success (Rutter, 1979; Brook. 1989; Edmonds, 1986; O'Neil, 1991; Leven, 1988; Slavin, Kanweit, and Madden, 1989). Probably the most powerful research supporting a school "ethos" of high expectations as a protective shield was reported by Rutter et al. (1979). In his compelling book, Fifteen Thousand Hours., psychiatrist Michael "Rutter found that even within the same poverty-stricken areas of London, some schools showed considerable differences in rates of delinquency, behavioral disturbance, attendance and academic attainment (even after controlling for family risk factors). The successful schools, moreover. appeared to share certain characteristics: academic emphasis, teachers, clear expectations and regulations., high level of student participation., and many varied alternative resources: library facilities, vocational work opportunities, art, music, and extracurricular activities. A major critical finding was that the relationships between a school's characteristics and student behavior increased over time; that is, the number of problem behaviors experienced by a youth decreased over time in the successful schools and increased in the unsuccessful schools. Rutter concluded, 'CSchools that foster high self-esteem and that promote social and scholastic success reduce the likelihood of emotional and behavioral disturbance.'., Rutter's studies have also shown the differences between schools account for less of the variance of scholastic attainment than did features of the family or home. However, this may result from the fact that there is a bigger difference between the "best" and "worst" home than between the "best" and "worst" school. If schools vary in quality less than do homes (as is probably the case)., then their statistical effect on children's attainment will also appear less. 29

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Discussions of the risk factors for school failure focus on two sets of variables. One is individual student behaviors and such as lack of engagement in instructional and co-curricular activities, poor performance on classroom tasks and achievement tests.,. poor attendance, using alcohol and drugs.,. and having a child. The second set embraces environmental characteristics Family indicators.,. including family poverty and marital status of parents.,. are cited frequently, as well as school policies and practices.,. such as tracking, retention in the early grades, and low teacher expectations of African American students. How these factors contribute to school failure has been the subject of numerous research and policy reports (Fine, 1988; Natriello, McDill, & 1990). Protective Factors Within the Community As with the other two arenas in which children are socialized, the family and the school, the community which supports the positive development of youth is promoting the building of the traits of resiliency-social competence, problem-solving skills, autonomy, and a sense of purpose and future Community psychologists refer to the capacity of a community to build resiliency as "community competence" {lscoe, 1974) And once again, as with the family and the school competent communities are characterized by the triad of protective factors that Benard ( 1991) speaks to as: caring and support, high expectations, and participation. Benard also identified three characteristics of communities that foster resilience. Including, availability of social organizations that provide an array of resources to residents; consistent expression of social norms so that community members understand what constitutes desirable behavior; and, opportunities for children and youth to participate in the life of the community as valued members. Hill, Wise and Shapiro (1989) emphasized the role of communities as key contributors in the revitalization of failing urban school systems. They believe that troubled urban school systems can only 30

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recover when the communities that they serve unite in decisive effort to improve their performance. A competent community, therefore, must support its families and schools, have high expectations and clear norms for its families and schools, and encourage the active participation and collaboration of its families and schools in the life and work of the community. According to Kelly, "The long-term development of the 'competent community' depends upon the availability of social networks within the community that can promote and sustain social cohesion within the community ... That is, the formal and informal networks in which individuals develop their competencies and which provide links within the community are a source of strength (i.e., health and resiliency) for the community and the individuals comprising it," (1988). (p.14) Perhaps the most obvious manifestation of caring and support at the community level is the availability of resources necessary for healthy human development: health care, child-care, housing, education, job training, employment, and recreation. According to most researchers, the greatest protection we could give children is ensuring them and their families access to these basic necessities (Gannezy, 1991; Samerofl: 1984; Long & Vaillant, 1989; Wilson, 1987; Coleman, 1987; Hodgkinson, 1987). Conversely, the greatest risk factor for the development of nearly all problem behaviors is poverty, a condition characterized by the lack of these resources. Nettles (1991) states the word community evokes images as different as the cohesive, village-like neighborhoods that many African American Southerners recall nostalgically and the faceless mass known in the media as ''The Black Community.'' She says that these and other diverse pictures capture the two most common notions of community, those of place and social relationships that transcend locales. However, communities are also characterized by the structure rules, norms, and 31

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processes that serve to maintain the community and support its constant individuals and organizations. The role of community involvement will be important for this study, just as schools and families are factors that may contribute to the resiliency of African American males, a community can either contribute to adverse outcomes in school, or serve as a protective factor for the young Black male success in schooL Risk and Resilience: Contextual Influences on the Development of Adolescent African American Males The literature from resilience research tells us that as the decade of the 1990s unfolded, the nation's attention was captured by the plight of children and families in a variety of risk circumstances, and by the urgency for interventions that fostered resilience and life chances of all children and youth. Problems of great severity still exist for many children, youth, and families, particularly those in at-risk circumstances, such as the inner-city communities and schools. A future question and problem that may be examined as it relates to adolescents and particularly adolescent African American males living in the inner-city communities is: Do youth of this generation manifest more serious behavioral problems than children of a generation ago? If so, is it related to the lack of morals and values taught by parents and teachers; or is it related to the changing racial and ethnic landscape? As I review the literature, I find that some believe it is related to changing government policies and dysfunctional households. In his book, Educating for Character (1991), Lickona has a famous quote from Theodore Roosevelt: ''To educate a person in mind and not in morals, is to educate a menace to society." 32

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Clabaugh ( 1994) bas another view, he suggests that educators do not command the resources necessary to teach every child civility. so the prognosis is grim for those who don't learn courtesy and consideration at home. In the "good old days" the "Singapore solution" (whipping a person with a bamboo cane for punishment) was available for these hard cases, but this option now has largely been ruled out_ What bas taken its place? Too often, sermonettes or the pretense of teaching sociopaths conflict resolution. Predictably the sneering recipients of these social "services" then lay waste to everyone's safety and learning. The quality of life available to children and families in the inner-city communities is threatened by a perilous set of modem morbidities that often involve poverty, lack of employment opportunities, disorderly and stressful environments, poor health care, children borne by children, and highly fragmented patterns of seiVlce. However, the literature identifies the growing body of international, cross cultural, longitudinal studies that provides scientific evidence that many youth, even those with multiple and severe risks in their lives, can develop into competent, and caring adults." Werner and Smith (1992) discuss the critical role schools can play in the process. Data from an Educational Longitudinal Study which were analyzed by Weishew and Peng (1993) identified variables related to five types of student behavior: misbehavior, violent behavior, substance abuse, preparedness for class, and classroom behavior. It was found that, while variables not under school control (such as students' family background, school control, and grade span) are important predictors of student behavior, some school practices and policies are also significantly associated with student behavior. Specifically, schools with high-achieving and interested

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students; drug/alcohol-free environments; disciplined, structured environments; positive climates; and involved parents, have fewer behavior problems. Development Tasks During Adolescence When individuals are judged to be resilient, the implication is that they have displayed adaptive behavior despite facing risks and adversities. Risk factors or adversities may come in a variety of forms, including parental mental illness, economic disadvantage, teenage parenthood, chronic illness, criminal behavior, and delinquency. Indeed, it is possible for individuals to fall into groups having more than one risk factor (e.g., economically disadvantaged, teenage parent). Understanding resilience requires that obstacles to adaptation be understood, and that the standard for, or definition of: adaptive behavior be delineated. Adaptation in the study of resilience, as in the study of developmental psychopathology, is defined in terms of the attainment of psychosocial milestones ca.IIed developmental tasks (Masten & Braswell, 1991 ). Developmental tasks represent broadly defined standards or expectations for behavior at various points in the life span. Resilience in an individual refers to successful adaptation despite risk and adversity. The developmental tasks facing adolescents prepare them to assume adult roles and responsibilities. According to Steinberg (1990), developmental tasks facing adolescents are in three areas: (a) intimacy and interpersonal responsibility, (b) identity and personal responsibility, and (c) achievement and social responsibility. Intimacy and interpersonal responsibility are important because adolescents, in order to grow into mature adults, must develop the capacity to competently manage their interpersonal relations which have implications for how well they function in multiple including family, work, and leisure. 34

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The developmental task concerning identity and personal responsibility involves the need for adolescents to develop a clear sense of their values and beliefs, and the "ability to make informed decisions, exercise judgment, and regulate one's own behavior appropriately," (Steinberg, 1990). For African American youngsters, particularly adolescent males, the issue of identity formation has added complexity due to the status of African Americans in U.S. society. As Spencer and Dornbusch (1990) noted, minority adolescents face the task of developing an identity in the context of a mainstream culture that views the attributes and values of minority groups as unfavorable. The decision making of African American adolescents is further complicated because mainstream cultural values and African American cultural traditions sometimes conflict (Boykin & 1985). Risks and the Development of African American Adolescents The conditions associated with poverty and economic disadvantage are, perhaps, the environmental factors most challenging to the adaptation of African American families and adolescents (Taylor, 1992). A host of problems linked to poverty and economic hardship currently plague inner-city life, including high rates of joblessness, crime, drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, and a general social isolation from mainstream society (Wilson, 1987). Economic hardship, as it influences family functioning and the nature of families' living conditions, may also affect adolescents' capacity to master developmental tasks. The ability to form satisfying interpersonal attachments may be at risk, given the nature of parent -child relations in homes where economic resources are insufficient. McLoyd (1989) noted that children and adolescents of parents experiencing economic hardship are more likely to be exposed to power-assertive and punitive discipline practicec:.. These practices may be transferred to the child or 35

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adolescent, affecting how they interact with peers. Thus, adolescents may learn coercive methods of negotiating interpersonal conflicts from the form of parental discipline or control displayed in the home. Such forms ofbehavior may not, be popular among the adolescents' peers. Minority status is also a factor that may impede efforts by African American youngsters to attain expected developmental outcomes. Taylor (1992) explains that minority status and social class are linke
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of the suspicion with which others view them, engage in acts of kindness and helpfulness aimed at disproving stereotypical characterizations of them as uncivil and inclined toward criminal behavior. Anderson suggested that the net effect of the social environment, and the strategies of negotiation the adolescents use. is to clearly indicate to youth the fragile status they hold in their communities. Ogbu ( 1986) discussed African American adolescents perception of their subordination and exploitation and their impact on their educational performance. Ogbu suggested that as a consequence of their perception that racial discrimination limits their social mobility, African American adolescents are more likely to reject White middle-class values and attitudes in the area of education. School learning is viewed as a subtractive process with few identifiable benefits, in which individuals must sacrifice something of their collective sense of identity in adopting the behaviors and values favored in schooL Ogbu ( 1986) also argued that as a consequence of their awareness of and experiences with racial barriers to conventional means of achieving social mobility. African Americans in inner -cities have responded by developing alternative theories and strategies for achieving social and economic success. According to this view, although inner -city African American parents stress the importance of formal education and conventional jobs, they also consciously or unconsciously teach their children the value of''instrumental competencies of clientship, hustling or other survival strategies." All three adolescent developmental tasks are implicated in Ogbu s discussion. The development of skills and social responsibility, identity and personal responsibility, and intimacy and interpersonal responsibility is clearly relevant. The experiences and perceptions of adolescents and their family members regarding racial discrimination and racial barriers may directly influence the conscious and unconscious commitment of parents and adolescents to the adolescents' schooling 37

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and to the assumption of mainstream values and behaviors. Further, the adolescent categories discussed by Ogbu represent ways in which adolescents may rationalize their identity and self-concept. They represent sets of values, attitudes, and behaviors that African American adolescents may adopt to help guide them in decision making in critical areas such as schooling and peer relations. These factors may partially explain why peers and interpersonal relations, particularly among African American males, appear more important than school as a source of self-esteem (Hare & CasteneiL. 1988). Evidence ofResilience in African American Adolescents A number of investigations (Clark, 1983; Greenberg& Davidson, 1972) have examined high-and low-achievin& economically disadvantaged African American preadolescents and adolescents. The high-achieving sub-samples in this work consisted of individuals who, despite living in poor, inner-city neighborhoods, managed to do well in school. Several factors appear to separate high-achieving from low-achieving students, including the organization of their homes and the nature of their parenting experiences Interpreting these findings, Clark ( 1983) suggested that the parents of high achieving adolescents appear more likely to employ authoritative parenting practices in the home rather than the parents of low-achieving adolescents. Authoritative parenting involves a constellation of behaviors, including warmth, firm control and monitoring, and the encouragement of mature behavior. Similarly, in a sample of younger children, Scheinfeld (1983) found that parents of high achievers encouraged self-motivation, autonomy, and engagement of the environment, whereas parents of low achievers discouraged autonomy and engagement of the environment The processes underlying these differences in parental behavior, such as parent 38

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personality differences or differences attributable to the social environment experienced by the family, deserve further attention. Fordham and Ogbu (I 986) reported on strategies that high achievers may employ to facilitate their schooling. They found evidence that for some African American adolescems attending school in poor inner-city neighborhoods, achievement in school is accomplished by "cloaking" or disguising their by forming protective alliances, or by diverting attention away from their efforts. Fordham and Ogbu (1986) suggested that African American adolescents attending school in imegrated settings may seek to diminish their self-identification as Aftican Americans in order to sustain their academic strivings. In other related research on the adjustment of Aftican American males, a number of writers (Gordon, 1992; Majors & Billson, 1991) suggested that adolescents commonly adopt and ritualize codes ofbehavior, speech, and dress, which serve the function of maintaining and protecting individuals' psychological well-being. In this work it is argued that in the face of racial hostility and discrimination, and lack of access to mainstream avenues to success and fulfillment, adolescents may create a system of actions and symbols permitting self-validation. The research discussed here demonstrates that resilience and adaptation are common, and that despite economic disadvantage and the awareness of racial discrimination, adolescents often display behaviors relevant to the mastery of developmental tasks. The findings offer evidence of adolescents whom, despite their risk circumstances, perform adequately in perceive themselves as self-reliant, avoid problem or delinquent behavior. and adequately manage their peer relations. These results also offer insight imo the factors and processes that promote resilience in African American adolescents. These factors are descn'bed as protective factors, and they appear to moderate the effects of risk factors on adolescent development. 39

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Implications for Educating African American Adolescents It is recognized that schools in inner-cities are being called upon to play an increasing role in the lives of their students, and that there are real limits to what can reasonably be expected of schools. It is also clear that the problems and life stresses facing inner-city families and communities are unprecedented. Wilson ( 1987) amply described the problems of poverty, crime, and social isolation that beset our inner cities. Efforts aimed at improving the quality of inner-city schools by, among other things, increasing parent-school connections (Comer, 1984) have the potential to benefit youngsters' development and adjustment. The success of some of these ventures is evidenced by the academic gains that children have made, and the improved social climate for learning seen at the target schools. There are also other possible benefits of parent-school involvement and greater school involvement in community affairs. Cochran and Henderson ( 1990) showed that interventions aimed at promoting the social networks of African American families, particularly single-parent families. is associated with better school performance by children. Parental involvement in schools, such as that depicted in the work of Comer ( 1988), would present a unique opportunity to promote parental social networks that benefit communities, schools, and most importantly, youngsters. For some families these social networks may help buffer the negative effects of economic hardship, and enhance parents' ability to engage in better parenting practices. Expanded social networks may also make children's social and physical environment safer by placing them in greater contact with other competent adults. Another implication as it relates to the African American male adolescents is that educators must recognize that many Black male students must be understood and cared for in a nontraditional manner. Statistics clearly demonstrate the Eurocentric 40

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approaches are typically ineffective with Black children (Vann & Kunjufu, 1993). Black males' unique qualities must be addressed with as much zeal as are the needs of other groups of special learners. In an attempt to address their unique needs, a number of special schools for African American males are currently operating (Ascher, 1992). These schools stress a strong cultural and gender identity and aim to inoculate Black males against the .. hostile" forces in their environment, and to empower them as individuals and as members of their communities and society. Conclusions The future status of Black men in America depends, in large measure, on policy and program initiatives aimed at nurturing the development of adolescent Black males (Mincy, 1994). He argues that empowering young Black males will require a comprehensive and systematic approach. Black male adolescence needs to be understood in the context of African and African American culture and norms. Facilitating healthy Black male adolescent development cannot be done without support from home and family resources, leadership from educational institutions, and the careful tapping of the cultural strengths ofBiack communities. Normative research on the development of African American children and adolescents is sorely needed. The manner in which African American adolescents address developmental tasks has not been a focus in the literature on adolescent development. Social and educational policy-making is presently handicapped by a lack of basic information on the social and emotional development of African American youngsters. For example, as African American adolescents address the task of rationalizing their identity, they must do so in the context of constant negative portrayals of African Americans. It is not known how most adolescents reconcile these negative depictions with their own self -conceptions and maintain high selfesteem (Spencer & Dornbusch, 1990). The means by which adolescents address 41

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these tasks have clear implications for their schooling. Adolescents, who are unable to develop clear personal decisions, lack the skills to successfully manage relations with peers, and who fail to perceive the relationship between basic academic skiU and social well-being, are educationally at risk My hope is that this study on resilience will discover some of those obstacles that affect the development of African American adolescent males. Research on resilience must be open to the possibility that adaptive behaviors come in a variety of forms (Taylor, 1992) Taylor suggests that because adaptive behavior is largely defined by its environmental context, behaviors that meet the criterion for resilience may be behaviors that concerned adults would prefer that adolescents avoid Taylor states that unless all children and adolescents are exposed to social environments and behaviors associated with the middle-class attributes valued in schools, it is folly to expect that all children and will display similar behaviors. Finally, Taylor (1992) argues that there must be only careful application of resilience research to interventions efforts. There may be a danger, implicit in research on resilience, of coming to expect extraordinary outcomes from all individuals facing obstacles to development. Not all individuals or families are equally equipped to overcome impediments to development. Indeed, there are obstacles to children's and adolescents' development, such as poverty for which intervention at the individual or family level may be counterproductive, and intervention at the societal level holds the greatest promise for lasting, positive change 42

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CHAPTER3 THE RESEARCH METHOD Qualitative research philosophy and a phenomenological ethnographic approach were used in this study. Phenomenology is based on the belief that the objective reality of social institutions, such as family and are subjectively experienced by the individual (Psathas, 1973). These subjective experiences are in tum related to the individual's external behavior, which for this study, was being successful in school, and staying out of harm's way in the community. Accordingly, the individual's perceptions were of primary importance in a study of this nature. The phenomenological approach differs from traditional research methodology in several ways : 'it avoids the use of assumptions about the phenomenon under study, avoids reducing complex reality to a few 'variables' and minimizes the use of instruments that are reactive and that greatly influence the reality under study. (And) the conclusions of the investigations carried out are post hoc rather than a priori," (Laney, 1993). Historically, educational ethnography has been employed for several purposes: to describe educational settings and contexts, to generate theory, and to evaluate educational programs (LeCompte & Preissle, 1993). In educational ethnography, descriptive data are presented about the activities, the physical environments, and perceptions of subjects in educational contexts. Though the formats and methodologies vary, educational ethnographies are characterized as investigations of a relatively small, well-defined group of people in a specific geographic area, over an extended period of time, using participant observation as the 43

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field. The interpretive description and explanation of the life and social interactions of the group are the main focus of an educational ethnography which, according to Spandley (1979), is the work of descn'bing a culture" (p.3. ). The goal is not merely reporting what is but "to understand another way of life from the native point of view ... learning from people." (p.3). The ethnographer is essentially interested in the meanings of the the activities, and the relationships of the people of the culture under consideration. Analysis in educational ethnography is inductive, generative and constructive (LeCompte & Preissle, 1993) and leads to the development of grounded theory. Theoretical PefSl'ectives This study could draw upon several theoretical perspectives in the social sciences. However, the psychodynamic theory was used for this study LeCompte & Preissle ( 1993) describe this theory as human personality development and its psychological and cultural determinants. The assumptions that relate to this theory are: (I) Human behavior and personality development are greatly influenced by early social and cultural influences, particularly relationships with parents and siblings. (2) Certain constellations of these traits are recognizable as "ideal types" or which characterize individuals or cultures. (3) Identification of the personality type which characterizes an individual or culture facilitates prediction of future behavior, and ( 4) Overt behavior is a manifestation of specific personality characteristics or traits. Goals of the Study In the tradition of social and cultural anthropology, the research I proposed included an extended period of study in the field. Fieldwork and a focus on resilience, schooling, and development in adolescent African American males were the sources upon which my subsequent interpretations were based. 44

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The critical considerations guiding this methodology and the questions were drawn from the literature review. Why are some young Black male students resilient? And what are the so-called "protective factors," or those conditions that foster resiliency in the Black male despite the negative odds they face? Benard (1992) indicates that the following protective factors present in the family, school, and community serve as buffers against those variables that put children at risk of unhealthy behavior such as violence: a positive, caring relationship with an high expectations for behavior and abilities, and opportunities for meaningful participation and involvement. Preliminary observations and informal conversations with parents, neighbors, teachers, students, and administrators will also be critical for this study. The term ethnographic research is used as shorthand rubric for investigations described variously as ethnography, qualitative research, case study research, field research, or anthropological research (Smith, 1979). Signithia Fordham (1996) believes that ethnography and ethnographic methods are the best reporting devices. In her book, Blacked Out (1993), her fieldwork study focused on the language, practices, categories, rules, beliefs, and social organization of a bounded culture group, African Americans and Black adolescents in particular. She suggests that because in ethnographic studies, the researcher is inseparable from the research problem, he or she is always a part of the resulting analyses. She argues that as an American of African descent, she was keenly aware of a latent but powerful aversion in the Black community to the obligatory school-sanctioned transformation ethos. Hopefully, being an African American male, who is keenly aware of this aversion in the Black community, is of benefit to me as a researcher. Having this type of awareness can also be described as theoretical sensitivity. Theoretical sensitivity refers to a personal quality of the researcher (Strauss & 45

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Corbin, 1990). It indicates an awareness ofthe subtleties of meaning of data. One can come to the research situation with varying degrees of sensitivity depending upon previous reading and experience with or relevant to an area. It can also be developed funher during the research process. Theoretical sensitivity refers to the attribute of having insight. the ability to give meaning to data, the capacity to understand, and capability to separate the pertinent from that, that is not. Site Selection Metropolitan High the locus of the study, is in inner-city Denver, where poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are commonplace, and high stress affects home and school environments, as well as family functioning. Despite these shoncomings, the Metropolitan Community has always been a stable community with a lot of history and tradition. Unfortunately, it is embedded in a section of the city where what is categorized as violent crime is regularly publicized by the news media. Metropolitan residents are sometimes perceived negatively by most others in the city. This response, however, is muted when directed at the students from Metropolitan High especially the Anglo students (who were bused in for integration purposes) who declare with pride that they attend Metropolitan High. This is true in pan because the school had a widely recognized advanced placement program, and a large number of the Anglo students were in those classes. The Black students and the community have traditionally always been very proud ofMetropolitan High School. While this study will take place in a high school, it is not a study strictly about student academic success. It is a study of success in the Black community. In order to obtain the most accurate image of the subjects' perceptions of success and their resiliency, this ethnographic study involved hundreds of hours of 46

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observation in the naturalistic settings of other physical spaces in the school, and homes and community. It involved the use of open-ended questions in interview settings to discover the subjects', their parents', and their teachers' perceptions of their talent and school experiences. Sample Of the two methods for choosing participants, probabilistic sampling and criterion-based selection, the most applicable for this study was the criterion-based selection. Criterion-based selection requires that the researcher establish, in advance, a set of criteria or a list of attributes that the units for study must possess. The investigator then searches for exemplars that match the specified array of characteristics. Some researchers 1977; Patton, 1980) label this as purposive sampling to distinguish it from probabilistic sampling. The term purposively applies across selection and sampling procedures and should be contrasted only with completely haphazard means of selecting data or data sources. Four African American male students (1997 and 1998 graduates of Metropolitan High) comprised the sample for this research. Ten candidates were originally nominated but did not meet the criteria for this research. The main criteria were that the young men had lived in the Metropolitan Community since early childhood and had attended the same middle and high schooL However, most imponantly, they must have graduated from high schooL Definitions: "African American" is defined as a "student born in the United States and having at least one African American parent." To be considered "successful," a student needed to meet, in the opinion of his teachers, at least four of seven criteria: 1. Reads at age-appropriate (or better) level; 2. Writes at age-appropriate (or better) level; 47

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3. Does age-appropriate math; 4. Can manage and make good use of study 5. Gets along well with peers; 6. Has average or above average test scores (if available); 7 Is motivated to learn. "Overcoming the odds"' is exceeding and living successfully in an urban city, where poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are commonplace, and high stress affects both home and school environments, as well as family functioning. These young men have each encountered risk factors growing up which were potent predictors of negative developmental outcomes for most other Black adolescent males in their cohon (community). From the review of literature, it is apparent that these risk factors include: poveny, prenatal stress, family discord, and low parental education. Other risk factors which these students had in common were: they live in the same community (Metropolitan) where poveny and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are commonplace, and high stress affects both home and school environments, as well as family functioning However, as middle school students, these resilient young men were more responsible, mature, achievement motivated and socially connected than their less competent, high-risk contemporaries. Research Questions The following research questions guided this study of resilience in selected young African American males 48

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Question No. 1 What are the protective mechanisms that foster healthy development and learning success of selected adolescent African American males? Question No. 2 What are the factors in resiliency that have contributed to school success for selected adolescent African American males? Research Purpose and Goals: I. Protective Factors Wrthin the Family Sample Factors that were Investigated 1. Caring and support 2. High expectations 3. Encourage youth's participation II. Protective Factors Within the School Sample Factors that were Investigated 1. Caring and support 2. High expectations 3. Youth,s participation and involvement ill. Protective Factors Within the Community Sample Factors that were Investigated 1. Caring and support 2. High expectations 3. Opportunities for participation 49

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Note: A grounded theory questioning of the young African male determined if protective factors existed in his family, school, and community. Table 3.1 indicates research bases for protective factors related to resilience. Table 3.1 Connecting Research and Factors That Play a Significant Role in Resilience In the literature review, these &ctors were described as protective factors. They include the following: *Protective Factors Related to Resilience Research/Literature Review Effective parenting Comer, McAdoo Connections to other competent Nettles, Clark aduhs Appeal to other people, Feldman, Stiffman, Jung particularly adults Good intellectual skills Ogbu, Fordham Areas of talent or accomplishment valued by self and others Ascher, Steinberg Self-efficacy, self-worth, and Garmezy, Rutter, Werner, hopefulness Smith, and Steinberg Religious faith or affiliations Ogbu. Benard, Lickona Socio-economic advantages Wilson, Neckerman Good schools and other Polite, Comer, Edmonds, Rutter, community assets Ogbu, Fordham, Nettles Good fortune Ascher NOTE: These protective factors were used as a guide for "probing questions" during the interview process. 50

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Many researchers, including Benard (1991) and Werner (1993), discuss the many protective factors that foster resiliency (see Figure 3 .I). Figure 3.1 Protective Factors that Promote Resiliency Admiration and supportive Presence of supportive adults relationship with at least one adult Schools that emphasize involvement and belonging Belief that goals are achievable Self-efficacy (in various Caring parents domains) Clear long-term goals Self-esteem College preparatory plans Sense of community belonging Enhanced opportunities at Sense of dignity major life transitions Sense of humor Feelings of personal control over one's life Sense of justice Good health Spiritual belonging Having experienced lessons ("reality checks'/ that reverse Sports participation the allure of risk behaviors Supportive school personnel Low family stress Unconditional love Opportunities to explore one's Using time positively and environment productively Perceptions that dysfunctional Vtrtue home environments do not hinder academic success Well-developed maturity Personal responsibility Optimism about one's future 51

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Data Collection Qualitative researchers, including ethnographers, deal with empirical or potentially verifiable information obtained from the environment and accessed via human senses. Sources and types of data are limited only by the creativity and energy of the researcher (LeCompte & Preissle, 1993). LeCompte & Preissle ( 1993) state that the most common categories of data collection used by ethnographic and qualitative researchers are observation, interviewing, researcher-designed instruments, and content analysis of human artifacts. Strauss and Cobin ( 1990) say the three major components for qualitative research are: data, analytic or interpretive procedures, and written and verbal reports. Data for this study were broadly defined to include formal and informal interviews; participant watching both within and outside the school (in the homes of students, at their work and play sites), in classrooms, in churches, at community rituals, including holiday celebrations, and at recreational activities such as football and basketball games. Steps that were taken to establish a rapport (Yow, 1994, LeCompte & Preissle, 1993) with the case study subjects included: arranging for a preliminary meeting. explaining once again, the purpose of the project, clarifying expectations of the participants, allowing the participants to become accustomed to and comfortable with the recording equipment, assuring the subject that he is not obliged to answer all of the questions, and letting the informants know that his contributions are important and appreciated. For the purpose of helping the subjects to relax, each interview session began with a minimal amount ofsmali talk (Yow, 1994). I also collected data 52

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from the students' nonfamilial adult members of the Metropolitan Community. Analytic or interpretive procedures were used to arrive at findings or theories. These procedures included the techniques for conceptualizing data This process, called "coding,, varies by the training, experience, and purpose of the researcher (Charmaz., 1983). Written and verbal reports may be presented in scientific journals or conferences and take various forms depending upon the audience and the aspect of the findings or theory being presented. For instance,. Strauss and Corbin suggest someone may present either an overview of the entire findings or an in-depth discussion of one part of the study. Interviews The Interview protocols developed for students, parents and teachers were based on grand tour questioning techniques described by Spradley (1979). The students were asked questions about what school is like for them, their attitudes about school and their teachers, including the best and worst features of both, their goals, aspirations and advice about how to be successful in school and in life. Other questions concerning their neighborhoods, their interests and hobbies and study habits were asked. Parents were asked about their own education and interests, their children's interests, hobbies, and experiences at schooL Teachers, parents and students were questioned on school and community issues, such as drugs, gangs and violence. Other school experiences, community and social issues were also covered in these interviews. (See Appendix.) Data Analysis and Coding The analysis of the large amount of data generated in a qualitative study needs to be conducted in a thoughtful, conscientious manner. Laney {1993) addresses the 53

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variety of analyses conducted in qualitative research which range from data dissection to data generalization. At one end of the continuum are the Glaser and Strauss ( 1967), Strauss and Corbin ( 1990) strategies of breaking the data down into the smallest pieces possible, "then systematically coding and collating all the lower level (grounded) categories, and then moving upward to seek meaningful, larger (Laney, 1993). At the other end of the continuum is the work ofL. M. Smith, who developed the "skimming the cream" strategy, whereby, after one year on a project, he and his fellow researchers simply asked themselves, "What are the major things we've learned from our year in the field? The resulting ideas and findings of their brainstorming session were organized and fleshed out to include broader topics and outlines. The researcher must choose the level of analysis appropriate for his/her location and participants, for the purpose of the research. Laney further states: "There is a tendency to use broader, less precise analytical tools in working with larger units (e.g., school, community, district) and more precise, refined tools when working with smaller units (e.g., lesson, reading group)." (p.54) Because the purpose of this research was to generate grounded theory and not merely to describe a situation in the anthropological sense, a more precise strategy for data analysis was used in order to explore relationships between categories of collected data and therefore be able to produce grounded theory. Data analysis was conducted using techniques designed by Strauss ( 1987), and Strauss and Corbin ( 1990). These techniques include the use of a coding paradigm, as well as coding techniques advocated by the same researchers including three levels: open coding, axial coding, and selective coding. As the coding of data occurred, this researcher conferred with other researchers to confirm the decisions made about initial coding and emerging categories and theory. 54

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Delimitations of the Study (identified before doing the study) I. All participants were reared in the same inner-city community (Metropolitan Community) 2. All participants attended the same middle school in the Metropolitan Community. 3. All participants were nominated by their middle school teachers and counselors as successful students who "overcame the odds.'' 4. "Overcoming the Odds" is exceeding and living successfully in an inner-city community, where poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are commonplace, and high stress affects both home and school environments, as well as family functioning. 5. All participants graduated from Metropolitan High School. 6. All participants are African American males. 7. Being an African American male who is keenly aware of the powerfu.I aversion in the Black community will be of benefit to me as the researcher. Limitations of the Study 1. Only four out of the ten young men nominated met the criteria for the study. 2. Study did not seek to compare resilient youth and non-resilient youth. 55

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3. If there were more time., would like to have asked a set of interrelated questions that are logically prior to those aimed at identifying "resilient, students, schools, and communities. Those questions would have been: What do we need to do to create communities within which resilient schools and students can function? What roles might schools play in establishing such communities? Summary Rutter (I 987) has identified four main mechanisms that future research could use to categorize the knowledge based on schools and communities and the development of resilience among African American males: (a) the reduction of negative outcomes by altering either the risk or the youth's exposure to the risk; (b) the reduction of a negative chain reaction following risk exposure; (c) the establishment and maintenance of self-esteem and self-efficacy; and (d) the opening up of opportunities. Rutter (I 987) proposes that the impact of risk can be reduced in two distinct ways: altering the meaning or danger of the risk variable and changing the child's exposure to the risk situation. For example, providing quality preand early-school experience reduces the risk of students developing attitudes and behaviors that may hinder early learning in a formal school setting. A second group of protective mechanisms are those that reduce the effect of negative chain reactions that follow risk exposure. For example, the negative developmental outcomes of gangs are diminished for young Black males who receive home and community support to resist gang activity. The third mechanism, self-efficacy, concerns individuals' self-concept and their feelings about their environment, their competence in handling life's obstacles, and their perceptions of control in determining outcomes. For individuals in high-risk 56

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these self-concepts help develop interpersonal relationships throughout the life span and through successfully completing tasks. The fourth mechanism, opening up of opportunities, concerns critical periods within an individual's life for attaining skills necessary for school or job success, and extracurricular involvement during the high-school years that operate as protective mechanisms. Those individuals who drop out of high school or who do not receive adequate skills or credentials miss experiences that may be protective (Rutter, 1987). Conclusion: Oualitative Methods. Validity, and Reliability The qualitative methods used in this study consisted of three kinds of data collection: ( 1) in-depth, open-ended interviews; (2) direct observation; and (3) written documents (Patton, 1990). The data from my formal open-ended interviews were from questions written out in advance exactly the way they were asked during the interview (see Appendix). The data from other interviews and personal communications consisted of direct quotations from people about their experiences, opinions, feelings, and knowledge. The data from my observations consisted of detailed descriptions of people's activities, behaviors, and actions. The data from written documents were from other researchers, school district, and the city of Denver's publications. They are used as '1igures and tables" throughout this research. I debated, but decided not to use any open-ended written responses to questionnaires and surveys. The validity and reliability of the qualitative data in this study depended a great deal on my sensitivity and integrity. Therefore, useful and credible qualitative findings through observation and interviewing required me to be knowledgeable, creative, and patient. Additionally, I had to prepare for an extended time in the field on evenings and weekends and many nights at home analyzing the content of 57

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interviews and observations. Patton ( 1989) stresses that systematic and rigorous observation involves far more than just being present and looking around. Skillful interviewing involves much more than just asking questions. Content analysis requires considerably more th3n just reading to see what's there. p 11 Conversely, as the fieldworker, I had used different data sources to validate and cross-check my findings. Each type and source of data have strengths and weaknesses. Using a combination of data types increases validity as the strengths of one approach can compensate for the weaknesses of another approach (Marshall & Rossman, 1989). In regard to the external reliability of this study, I strongly believe that other independent researchers would discover the same phenomena or generate the same constructs in similar settings with similar participants. To strengthen the internal reliability of this study, I shared my interview research notes with other doctoral students and asked their opinions of what had been said. Therefore, this ethnographic investigation of observation, interviewing and analyzing as its primary tool should have a relatively high validity and reliability. 58

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CHAPTER4 FINDINGS This study explored four adolescent African American males who live in an urban setting where poverty and unemployment rates are drugs and violent crimes are commonplace, and high stress can affect both home and school environments, as well as family functioning. Nonetheless, these four young men had developed adaptive and coping strategies to overcome these adverse circumstances. The students were nominated by their school counselors and administrators. They were identified as young Black males who had "overcome the odds," and were successful in middle and high schooL "Overcoming the odds'' for these young men is living in an urban community, where poverty and unemployment rates are drugs and violent crimes are commonplace, and high stress could affect both home and school environments, as well as family functioning. They are socially competent, self-efficacious, and an effective problem solver who is able to negotiate through a web of adversity. Three of the young men graduated from Metropolitan High School in I 997; the fourth graduated in June of 1998. Metropolitan High School is in the city and county ofDenver and located in a community which has high crime figures and ranks high in unemployment and poverty. The qualitative data collection for the findings involved approximately one year of observing, interviewing, transcribing and analyzing. Interview protocols which were developed for students, parents and teachers were based on grand tour questioning techniques described by Spradley (1979). My field notes include 59

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personal contact and interviews with the young men and their parents. All the parents signed consent forms granting their sons permission to participate in the study. During the formal interviews the young men were asked about what school is like for them, their attitudes about school and their teachers, including the best and worst features of both, their goals, aspirations and advice about how to be successful in school and in life. Other topics concerning their neighborhoods, their interests and hobbies were also parts of the interview questions. In time the young men talked freely and openly about all aspects of their lives and those of their cohorts. They told me about their hopes and aspirations, their frustrations with school and school officials; how they coped in the community; their struggles with their peers; and their perceptions of who they were racially and culturally. Most important of all, as time they talked to me in Black voice. Most evenings and weekends found me spending some of my time in the community, participating in the activities there and talking with the students' parents, other adults, and community leaders. In fact, one of those evenings I was invited to participate in a focus group meeting with community members and school personneL Some of the data collected includes interviews from that focus group meeting. I have described the young men in the case study as "resilient youths., The definition of a resilient youth is one who is socially competent, self-efficacious, and an effective problem-solver who is able to negotiate through a web of adversity (Benard, 1991). (See Figure 4. I.) Overall, the most important findings in this study were the protective factors present in their family, school, and community, which serve as buffers against those variables that put all young people, including Black males, at risk of unhealthy behavior and dangerous situations. 60

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Figure4-l Profile of a Student with Characteristics ofResiliency BUll.D RESll..IENCY IN THE ENVIRONMENT Provide Opportunities for Meaningful Participation Believes voice is heard in classroom/school decisions. Participates in helping others through cooperative learning, service learning, peer helping, or other avenues. Exhibits a sense of self-efficacy in taking on new challenges. Set and Communicate High Expectations Believes that any positive goaVaspiration can be accomplished. Shows confidence in self and others. Encourages self and others to do "the best possible.'' Provide Caring and Support Feels that school is a caring place. Has a sense of belonging. + Experiences school as a community. + Sees many ways to be recognized and rewarded MITIGATE RISK FACTORS IN THE ENVIRONMENT + Increase Prosocial Bonding + Connects with at least one of the many caring adults in the school. + Is involved with some of the many before-, after-, and inschool activities. Is engaged in cooperative peer-to-peer interactions through teaching strategies and/or school programs Is positively connected to learning. + Set Clear, Consistent Boundaries Understancis and abides by policies and rules. + Participates in changing policies and rules 61

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The Research Setting Metropolitan Community Metropolitan Community has always been the stable community in the city of Denver. This community, like other older communities in Denver, has a lot of history and tradition. Unfortunately, it is embedded in a section of the city where what is categorized as violent crime is regularly publicized by the news media (see Table 4.1 ). Over the years the racial demography of the Metropolitan Community has not changed much. This community has always been considered a Black and Hispanic community. Even though in its early years (1940s and the 1950s), the community had a sizable population of Whites and Asians along with African Americans and Hispanics. Today, the community is predominately Hispanic and African American with the majority being Hispanic. However, since the 1990s, the community has become predominately Hispanic. Metropolitan Community Residents While researching the Metropolitan Community, I came to realize that of all the problems besetting the poor inner-city Black community, none is more pressing than that of interpersonal violence and aggression. It wreaks havoc daily with the lives of community residents and increasingly spills over into downtown and residential middle-class areas. Simply living in such an environment places young people (especially young Black males) at special risk of falling victim to aggressive behavior. (Field Notes, February 1998). 62

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Table 4. 1. Denver Crime Report Rate = Crimes per 1.000 residents 1995 1994 NEIGHBORHOODS 1996 1995 RANK RANK 1. North Capitol Hill 335.3 376.7 1 1 2. Sun Valley 315.5 275.7 3 2 3. *F'IVe Points 314.7 338.7 2 3 4. Cherry Creek 216.0 206.2 5 8 5. Valverde 215.7 188.3 8 7 6. City Park 211.3 242.4 4 4 7. Baker 203.5 191.5 7 9 8. Elyria-Swansea 181.6 186.7 9 12 9. Jefferson Park 177.2 170.8 11 5 10. Over1and 175.2 151.2 14 14 11. City Park West 175.1 203.2 6 6 12. College View 157.4 135.6 19 16 13. Uncoln Park 157.4 176.8 10 11 14. capitol Hill 155.3 162.8 12 17 15. Globeville 146.9 151.2 13 10 16. *Cole 144.5 144.5 17 15 17. Northeast Park Hill 144.5 146.8 16 13 18. Barnum 137.3 138.8 18 22 19. East Colfax 135.2 128.1 21 20 20. Speer 126.2 114.8 24 25 21. *Clayton 125.4 128.3 20 19 22. Highland 124.4 123.1 23 23 23. "Whittier 124.2 147.3 15 18 24. West Colfax 123.8 127.3 22 21 25. AthmarPark 117.7 114.8 25 26 *Metropolitan Community Source: Rocky Mountain News, May 15. 1997 63

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Table 4. I. Denver Crime Report (Continued) Rate= Crimes per 1,000 residents 1995 1994 NEIGHBORHOODS 1996 1995 RANK RANK 26. Villa Park 105.7 101.8 27 27 27. Belcaro 982 103.9 26 28 28. Skyland 94.7 95.7 29 24 29. Washington Park West 94.6 90.3 32 32 30. Hale 93.8 96.1 28 30 31. Westwood 93.8 95.6 30 33 32. Rosedale 92.3 72.7 44 40 33. Regis 89.3 80.5 36 46 34. Goldsmith 88.9 70.1 45 39 35. Platte Park 882 85.8 33 34 36. Sunnyside 88.0 94.6 31 29 37. Cheesman Park 86.5 85.7 34 31 38. Berkeley 85.0 80.0 38 38 39. Barnum West 842 80.5 37 42 40. Sloans lake 82.3 73.0 42 35 41. Chaffee Park 82.0 82.3 35 36 42. Montclair 81.1 75.7 39 37 43. Cory-MerTill 78.7 68.4 49 44 44. West Highland n.1 66.0 53 47 45. Congress Park 76.3 73.9 41 41 46. Mar lee 74.4 67.9 50 50 47. Washington-Virginia Vale 70.5 69.5 45 55 48. Ruby Hill 69.6 68.5 49 49 49. Southmoor Park 68.8 65.9 54 59 50. Montbello 68.0 72.8 43 45 Source: Rocky Mountain News, May 15, 1997 64

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Table 4.1. Denver Crime Report (continued) Rate = Crimes per 1,000 residents 1995 1994 NEIGHBORHOODS 1996 1995 RANK RANK 51. Country Club 67.4 74.0 40 51 52. University Hills 64.1 66.8 52 56 53. Virginia Village 63.5 59.5 56 52 54. South Park Hill 63.1 68.7 47 48 55. University 60.9 54.1 60 53 56. Washington Park 60.7 67.0 51 43 57. Lowry Field 60.5 45.7 65 65 58. Harvey Park 59.7 61.4 55 57 59. North Park Hill 56.7 56.4 59 54 60. University Park 54.4 57.1 58 58 61. Hampden 53.1 50.3 61 60 62. Kennedy 49.8 57.3 57 62 63. Marston 47.4 48.1 63 64 64. Harvey Park South 47.4 48.5 62 63 65. Hampden South 45.9 47.7 64 61 66. Bear Valley 43.5 38.8 66 67 67. Hilltop 40.0 33.1 68 66 68. Windsor 38.6 31.5 69 69 69. Green Valley Ranch 36.8 36.1 67 68 70. Fort Logan 29.8 29.8 70 70 71. Wellshire 25.8 22.1 71 71 72. Indian Creek 24.8 16.9 72 72 Source: Rocky Mountain News, May 15, 1997 65

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As mentioned earlier, most evenings found me spending time in the Metropolitan Community participating in the activities there. It was during one of those evenings in February, 1998, I was invited to participate in a focus group meeting ofMetropolitan Community residents and school personnel. I was given permission to tape record the meeting and had a chance to interview some of the residents. The data gathered was important because it contn'buted to the findings. The comments that follow are from two residents of the Metropolitan community. Resident#! I just want to say that I think that what we are into at this point in time, is absolutely dynamic. It is so significant. It's hard to find the words to express it because I think we are in a position at this point to try to help this community to become organized in such a way that it can improve its own mental health. This community's mental health is bad. Because of the climate of drugs, prostitution. dope killings. . all of the rest. You have all the negative things. But it has some good things, too. Because there are some people in this community who don't want it to be that way. And that's ... those are the ones that we are going to have to try to rally to their own cause to improve their own community, because if they don't, the school, you know ... The school is already being affected. But there's going to be more negative effect. The school's going to have to take more of a part in this, too. (Comments, Community Member, February, 1998). Resident#l We're going to have to say something about the school, about the community, about gangs, about getting off of your duff and doing something to clean up in your own neighborhood. Because there are people that represent different streets in the community, I mean the trouble streets. They know who they are; they know where the troubles are; and they are going to have to do something. . And, it's been done in other communities. Sometimes people have to have marches up and down the streets to protest certain things in their community, and have to do it in significant numbers so as to drive those forces out, with or without the police department's help. Sometimes that sounds negative, but it isn't negative, because the police department is right here in the community and lots of things are happening. 66

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We talked about the community and it's obvious that the help, the emphasis is going to come from the community. But we're also talking about a group of people that work in this school who don't live in the community. And yet, they work within the community because they are teachers in this school. How do we deal with that? Will people listen to them or well ... "'t's another bunch of outsiders telling us how to run our community.,, (Comments, Community Residents, February, 1998). Metropolitan High School Metropolitan High School is located in a predominantly African section of the city of Denver. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, it is embedded in a section of the city where what is categorized as violent crime is regularly publicized by the news media. Metropolitan residents are sometimes perceived negatively by most others in the city. This response, however, is muted when directed at the students from Metropolitan High School, especially the White students (who until this year, 1998, were bused in for integration purposes) would declare with pride that they attend Metropolitan High. This was true in part because the school had a widely recognized advanced placement program, and a large number of the White students were in those classes. In fact 80 percent of the 1997 graduates attended 4-year colleges. They relished the school's high academic standards, the sports enthusiasm and camaraderie of its relatively small student body of 1,000. And they cherished the closeness they developed with kids from different races and economic backgrounds. The Students There were some stark differences. Most of the White students lived in affluent areas ofDenver. Most of the minority students lived near Metropolitan in a predominately lower income area. However, when Metropolitan High became a neighborhood school in 1997, it lost a 20-year tradition of a racial and economic mix of high-achieving students. 67

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In 1996-1997, 95 percent of the school's 1,000 students are Black and Hispanic (see Figure 4.2). The majorities are from low-income homes where support for education is often weak_ N"mth graders make up half the students; nearly all are behind, some are at elementary school reading levels. By mid-term, suspensions were up over last year and ninth graders had earned the majority of the failing grades. In addition, regular attendance seems foreign for too many students. Some gang rivalries have surfaced. After years of mid-day freedom, the campus might close. Too many students are returning late from lunch or not at all. Some can't resist drugs. Cruisers lure kids away and aggravate neighbors that Metropolitan High needs as supporters. (Student Adviser, Personal Communication, May 1, 1998). The Staff Even with the many challenges,. the school's principal and her administrative and teaching staff have worked very hard to maintain the high academic focus the school had for over 20 years during court-ordered busing. The school continues to offer Advanced Placement Courses and has affiliated itself with the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES). Implementation of CES began in the fall of 1997 with the Class of200 1. Upper division "'Programs of Excellence" featuring internships and graduation by exhibition will be fully implemented over the next four years. The school has tailored its curriculum to its students. Core subjects and reading are stressed in relatively small classes of about 20. Close teacher-student relationships are developing. Extra help and encouragement are scheduled into the day, but students consistently challenge teachers' efforts to raise expectations. (Principal, Personal Communication, May I, 1998). 68

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Figure 4.2 Characteristics of the students residing in Metropolitan, s new attendance area are shown below together with comparative information from October 1996. Attendllnce Percentage of Sllldents in the Membership Area F ollowinl! Clltegories: 199611997 199611997 Ethnicity White 42.4 percent 6.5 percent Ethnicity -Black 42.4 percent 40.4 percent Ethnicity -Hispanic 14.0 percent 51.3 percent Limited English proficient studentsSpanish 3.7 percent 28.3 percent Eligible for free/reduced price lunch 26.6 percent 75.1 percent Reading at or below the 25th percentile (Gr. 9) 30.4 percent 56.5 percent Reading at or below the 50th percentile (Gr. 9) 48.5 percent 82.5 percent Source: Denver Public Schools 69

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These kids are different; rm working harder to motivate them; I didn't have to do that before. We want to modify their behavior. We want to nurture them. It's a carrot vs. the stick approach. (Interview, Teacher, May 1, 1998). Outside the teachers seem to spend every spare minute in meetings: for planning, for peer coaching, for outside speakers, for community relations. The meetings are meant to invigorate teachers, to vent frustrations and share solutions. Home visits are more necessary as truancy has increased. About 20 percent of visited students have come back regularly. That type of result mirrors the incremental progress in many classrooms. While teachers anticipate improvement, for now they have to be satisfied with less from more. (Field Notes, May 1, 1998). However, schools have the power to build academic and personal resiliency in students. Even if barriers to resiliency building for students.exist in many schools, individual teachers in individual classrooms can still create havens of resiliency building environments that are also strongly associated with academic success. Individual educators also can work to overcome the barriers to resiliency building that may exist in their larger school organizations. To do these things, however, educators themselves must be resilient; "disempowered teachers are unlikely to create academic contexts of possibility and transformation" (Fine, 1991). Furthermore, both protective factor research and research on effective schools clearly identify the characteristics of schools that provide this source of protection for youth. And, what was found was most interesting, they parallel the protective factors found in the family environments of resilient youth. Case Studv Data Benard (1992) indicates that the following protective factors present in the family, school, and community serve as buffers against those variables that put 70

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children at risk of unhealthy behavior such as violence: a positive, caring relationship with an adult, high expectations for behavior and abilities, and opportunities for meaningful participation and involvement t\long with formal interviews, preliminary observations and informal conversations with parents, neighbors, teachers, and administrators were critical for these case studies. Case Study #I: Larrv Lany' s Background Larry is 19 years old and a 1997 graduate ofMetropolitan High SchooL He lives in an area that was the old Metropolitan Community. He was an average student in high school, and has plans to attend the local community college in the fall. Larry has a quiet demeanor about him, but his quietness shouldn't be confused with shyness. While observing Larry, one discovers that here is a young man who likes being around people and is pretty sharp about figuring out people. He states, "I know the people I should avoid and I know how to avoid bad situations., During our interview, he indicated that he cannot change the world and cannot change the behavior of others. However, he is confident that no one can influence him either. (Larry, Personal Communication, 1997). Larry's mother is not overly protective, even though she insists on always knowing Larry's whereabouts and whom he is with. She claims that she trusts Larry because he is very mature and responsible, but she is aware of how dangerous the neighborhood can be. Larry's principal says that he is the ideal student. "Besides being a good student, he is a gentleman and has a pleasant personality." From conversation with his principal it was discovered that his favorite subject in school was art. His teacher, 71

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who had encouraged him to continue his an in college, also confirmed this. (Field Notes, 1997). Larry said that he didn't get involved in sports or other extracurricular activities because he worked every day after school as a custodian helper at the middle school in his neighborhood. Protective Factors in Family Yes,. sir. Education is important in our house. Graduating from high school is probably the biggest thing yet for my family. Although I have two sisters who graduated before me, rm the first boy to do that. (Interview, Larry, 1991) Family to Larry is important and he recalls some memorable experiences while growing up in his family. Larry has two sisters and two brothers. The brothers are younger and his sisters are older. His father does not live with the family. There is strong relationship with the rest of the family, and they provide a high level oflove and support for Larry. His mother has set clear rules and consequences at home, and she monitors his whereabouts. (Field Notes, 1997). Yes they do. . My mom is always there and so are my brothers and sisters. They pretty much know ... just like graduation they were there. . So, so, that's pretty much a high level oflove. They really want me to take my own responsibility in how I conduct myself. I conduct myself in a manner in which probably would be acceptable to almost any parent (Interview, Larry, 1997). Protective Factors in School Larry has strong feelings about doing well in schooL He likes school and considers himself an average student. Larry's mother insists that he does well in school, but she does not put undue pressure on him. She provides a stable home 72

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environment and allows him to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. This appears to be her nonverbalized position, because to her it is far more important he become human in the traditional African American sense generous, respectful, and honest-than that he become the most successful person in America. (Field Notes, 1997). Larry expresses how he feels about doing well in school this way: Well, doing well ... I mean ... in a society that we live in, it's a free society, and it's important to do well in school, especially being a Black male, You never know. You know we're always stereotype of how Black people are, and Black males are seen to be gang members or that kind of st1If( that kind of stereotype. Not educated; always getting people pregnant, women and young girls, not taking care of their own responsibilities. (Interview, Larry, 1997). Larry was asked to rate himself as a student and was asked if teachers had high expectations of him at Metropolitan High. "Yeah, I would say I'm probably above average, or average, depending on what classes, various classes." (Interview, Larry, 1997). Teachers were pretty effective at Metropolitan High. . Yeah. What I produce is what I get. Most of the classes I took were ... I had to take two English classes this year, so I can say the teachers were doing their job, and it's just up to me to get the job done. (Interview, Larry, 1997). Larry was not involved in any leadership role or extracunicular activities at Metropolitan High School, and couldn't recall any memorable educational experiences. However, he did express how busy he was during his senior year. whoa This past school year was probably one of the hardest school years that I have ever had. Between going to school and working after schooL .. there really was no time to do any kinds of clubs or after school activities. Basically, my after school thing was doing homework and working after school. (Interview, Larry, 1997). 73

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While describing his school Lany discussed how he resists negative peer pressure and dangerous situations. By just basically being myself. I'm not going to tell a person what they can or cannot do; because, once again, we all live in a free society and people are free to do what they want to do. I mean regardless of my encouragement, even if it helps or not. I mean. I can only be my own be myself. I don't follow the crowd. I mean I talk to people who are in crowds. Like I said before, people do what they want to do, but I'm not going to discourage them from doing what they want to do. If that's what they want to do, I can,t_ There's no way. I'm not going to endanger myself by forcing them to stop doing something. So I feel that I'm not going to be a part of that. (Interview, Larry, 1997). Protective Factors in the Community Well, in the neighborhood, I feel safe in my neighborhood. I mean, every once in a while there might be a problem or something like that, but that can happen almost anywhere where a person is out of order and that sort of stuff. Well, I'm sort of like my mom when it comes down to the neighborhood. I really, I never really associate with anyone around there anyway. So I sort of mind my own business. I mean if you do that, then I guess that can be a way of resisting negative peer pressure. Because, you know, we don't associate with anyone in the neighborhood. We sort of just stay to ourselves. (Interview, Larry, 1997). When questioned more about this important topic of resisting negative behavior, Larry talked in length about the difficulties for young Black males in his community to resist high-risk behaviors such as alcohol, drugs and being sexually active. Well, I would probably say that's a "yes and no" question. I mean, myself: I haven't participated in those kinds of activities, but I have known people who do that. I mean, to have actually done that. I mean right in front of me. I'm not going to . Like I said before, I'm not going to tell a person that it is right or wrong for them to do it, because ifthat,s what they like doing, I'm not going to stop a person from doing what they like doing. I mean, it probably 74

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sounds kind of selfish, but I mean, I have to worry about, I have to look out for myselfbefore I look out for someone else. I think that's wbat,s wrong with people today. Most people sort of generalize other people's lives and say, you shouldn't be doing this, and you know this and that and this is wrong for you." Well, if they know it's wrong for them, why do they keep on doing it? I mean, me, I haven't participated in any of the activities; but I mean, I haven't really been pressured to do any of that. I mean, I probably say once that I have, but I said no, because I didn't want to. I mean, me, I have no interest in that area,. in any of those areas, period. I mean, now maybe the sex part, that will probably come later on in my life, and I feel that I am comfortable to do that kind of stuff: but as far as the alcohol and the drugs, I feel that I'm not, I don't want to do that. That's something that I don't want to do. In high school, that's all you ever heard people talking about was how they were going to get drunk, how they are going to do this and that And in tum, I think that's how it can translate into the college lifestyle where you see people on TV drinking and that kind of stuff. But I mean, like I say, rm not going to subject myself to that because, rm not going to discourage them to do it, because they know the difference between right and wrong. (Interview, Larry, 1997) When asked about his future plans and the direction his life is going, Larry concluded this interview by stating that he couldn't predict the path he was going to take, but whatever path he chose, it probably will be the right path. As far as being optimistic, rm not really sure about that yet, because I just got out of high school. I've got to set my priorities straight now. I've got to reset my priorities, because I have been used to the same priorities for five years now-working and school. I have to reset everything and I have to basically start over from scratch. So, I really don't, rm really unsure right now until I get everything together and bring everything together, because I'm used to doing things that way .... (Interview, 1997) 75

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Case Stuqy #2: T errv T eny's Background Terry lives in an area adjacent to the Metropolitan Community called "Arrowhead." This community has one of the highest crime rates in the city. Even though the neighborhood is being re-vitalized from efforts of the city and community business leaders, the neighborhood still has the reputation of drugs and violence. The neighborhood is closely connected with lower downtown, and in the past few years the community is seeing an economic re-vitalization that stems from the efforts of business leaders in the community. The house that Terry lives in is one hundred years old. In fact, the house is the same house Terry's father was raised in. The community has many small businesses, restaurants, taverns, retail clothing and record stores. Furthermore, Terry's house is the only house on the block. Next doorto his house is a barbershop, and on the other side is a record store. Terry is a young man who is well known in his community, because there are not many young people who live in the immediate area. All of his extracurricular activities at school and home are centered around music. He is an excellent drummer. Terry is hopeful that he may receive a music scholarship at the State University. Even though Terry lives in one ofthe toughest neighborhoods in the city, he believes by being involved with music he was able to distance himself from any trouble and especially not being in situations where negative things were taking place. Protective Factors in the Family Growing up in my family? Hah! I remember being young and there were always a lot of things to do. There were four of us, I have an older brother and two older sisters, and rm the youngest. On Sundays we would watch 76

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karate movies and stuff like that ... Kung fu and stuff like that, play games like the boys would get the girls, and stuff like that. (Interview, Terry, 1997). Terry's family is very close. Because he is the he is very protected by his older brother who is 28 years old and his older sisters who are 26 and 19 years old. He has a large extended family that is also very close. His grandparents are deceased. His parents have always encouraged and supported him to be the best, especially in school. Terry's father maintains that his earlier experiences with the three older children have helped him immensely in rearing Terry. rve got a lot of experience with the first three. I don't think I did anything special with Terry, other than encouraged him to pursue his music. (Interview, Terry's Father, 1997). However, as the youngest of four children, Terry feels pressured to do as well as his brother and sisters. Two graduated from high school and have obtained college degrees and one is still in the process of working toward a degree. According to Terry's father, Terry was spending more time with his music than his academics. Nonetheless, Terry's father says that the time he has spent on his music will pay off by receiving a music scholarship. Yes. They always encourage me to work hard in school, graduate, and go to college. Yeah. Because they have always said, that even though I'm good in music that if I didn't make it musically, I would have something else to fall back on. (Interview, Terry, 1997). When asked about his parent's level of education, Terry indicated that his father went through college and his mother never attended college. However, his brother and sisters did go to college. My two oldest sisters and brother, they both completed school. My brother got a degree in marketing at the State University; and my other sister, she got a degree in psychology. So they both completed college. And my youngest 77

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well, she's not young ... she's 19. She is currently going to the City College. (Interview, 1997). Protective Factors in School Terry was asked to talk about his school experiences and if there was anything that stood out as far as memorable experiences either in elementary, middle or high school. from the beginning the music I don't know. I tend to be attracted to that more just because that's where my heart really feels. I don't my they're kind ot: they were just kind of like . I know how to explain but they were just like almost completely different. I mean, they're like, because academics is like something that you have to do. And your music is something you like to do. I believe that anyone that is involved in the Arts do it because they want to do it. In my school, I I'm an average student, because I don't focus on my academic classes. Even though I might not be serious in my academic classes, I get my work done on a consistent basis. So, I guess I'm one of those average students. (Interview, 1997). Terry's high school principal that because of the support from his parents and his involvement in his music were factors that contributed to his success in high school. Conversely, one ofTerry's teachers at Metropolitan High considers him a good student, but one who didn't work to his which may indicate that teachers had high expectations of him. actually some of my teachers consider me a good student. But, on tests and exams, I don't I tend to kind of struggle, because I have to study on my own time .... And that's hard for me to do. To sit down and focus and study about something that's been going on for the past three weeks and to retain the information was hard for me to do. So, I usually score in the average range on tests. (Interview, Terry, 1997). 78

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Contrary to some in regards to African Americans doing well in school and being ostracized, Terry claims that being smart at school is okay and maybe even cooL I wouldn't really say "cool," I mean, they would accept it if you were. But it is okay to be a good student. I mean, they respect you if you're smart. Nobody wants to hang around a dummy. (Interview, Terry, 1997). He asserts that he doesn't act any differently at school than he does at home. When I'm at school, I'm with my friends, especially in the music program. I've been with most of them for five years. So, they pretty much know me by now, and I act the same at home and in school. (Interview, Terry, 1997). When questioned about school safety and does he feel safe at school, Terry suggests that: Yeah, I mean I feel safer at home, because I was brought up in the neighborhood. But sometimes I don't feel as safe as I think I should feel when I come to schooL (Interview, Terry, 1997). I feel that the security system (personnel) at Metropolitan High is one of the weaker ones that I have seen, and I don't really feel that if anything happened that they would be able to control the situation I mean, we're at risk, the students. (Interview, Terry, 1997). Protective Factors in the Community Terry offers some insights on his neighborhood. He suggests: Well, in my neighborhood, there aren't too many young people. And the young people that are there are pretty like, you can't control them. I mean growing up in the Five Points area for most of my life, I know what's going on out there, and I just try to alleviate myself from being in a position where I would have to make a decision where I might get in trouble. So I just don't put myself in a position with negative people or stuff like that. (Interview, Terry, 1997). 79

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During one our T eny indicated that most of his closest friends didn't even live in his neighborhood, and he really doesn't spend much of his time in the neighborhood. On my friends and I go to a club called Shakespeare. It's a jazz club, and on Sundays it is open to young people my age. So it's like young kids just hanging out at the jazz club. (Interview, Terry, 1997). When asked if his friends looked up to him, he stated that he really never thought about that, but maybe they do. Huh, I never really thought about that. Oh. .. I guess, kinda, because out of my rm like the oldest one and I'm the first one like to complete high school, and like since rm making it musically and stuff. I mean-I guess, they might kind of admire me, but I wouldn't say look up to me. (Interview, Terry 1997). Terry also indicated that the adults in his community acknowledge young people and are real supportive of young people like himself Terry insists that he feels safe in his neighborhood because of the closeness of the interactions of the adults in the community. I feel safe at home. In my neighborhood I feel safe because people know me, so like they wouldn't like, really mess with me, seeing as bow they know me and my family. . So, yeah. (Interview, Terry, 1997). Even though Terry is secure around his home and his friends, he is well aware of the dangers that exist in his neighborhood and he doesn't stay around his neighborhood much during the summer. Well, I would like, like, be like a kid. Kinda. Like do kid stuff and relax during the summer. And go to the movies more often. Go to like the recreation centers and swim and stuff like that. But, most of the time I'm away from my neighborhood practicing in the All City Marching Band. I mean, that's something I love to do, so I'm not regretting that at alL But, I do wish I could do more kid-type stuff in my neighborhood. (Interview, Terry, 1997). 80

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Case Study #3: Jasper Jasper's Background Jasper is 18 years old and a 1997 graduate of Metropolitan High SchooL He lives in the southeast area of the Metropolitan Community. At an early age, Jasper was identified as requiring special education needs. Over the years, including high schooL Jasper has managed to maintain above average grades even while being in special classes for his special educational needs. Even though he was never involved in a leadership-type role at Metropolitan High SchooL he felt fortunate to participate in sports. However, he expressed to me that he wishes he had the talent to be really good in sports. He claims that he was not the best player on the court or the field. He secretly wishes he were a little taller. However, he is very proud of his academic accomplishment. Even with his special needs, Jasper will attend college in the fall of 1997. (Field Notes, 1997). Protective Factors in the Familv Jasper's family is the center of his life and he contributes to the closeness of his family as a near tragedy occurred a few years ago. My dad and my two oldest sisters were in a car accident at the beginning of last summer, and my sister broke her back in three places, and had internal bleeding, and was in the hospital for over a month and then had home care for about over a month, and therapy for about six months after that. And, that just showed how quick somebody you love could be taken away from you and it brought me, personally, a lot closer to my sister, the one that was in the accident. Because of the accident, Jasper's mother insists that Jasper know how important it is to have a strong, loving family. He and his sisters have become real buddies. 81

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In Jasper's home his mother is the one who helps with the homework. Yep. Yeah, my dad didn't have any education, so he is really, he like suppons us. . He can't really help us out, but Mom, she can, she'll sit down with us and help us to go over a paper for mistakes, or help us with the. . my sisters with their algebra or English or stuff like that. Jasper's perceptions o(how his parents taught him are very similar to what his father said. Jasper's father asserted that Jasper is an extremely self-directed individual who does not appear to need his peers' approval for school success. He tends to make school-related decisions without being preoccupied with the pervasive self-policing so common at his schooL (Field Notes, 1997). Protective Factors in School I feel good when I get a good grade in class. Especially if it's a class that I'm interested in and a teacher I like; I feel like I have to do well so that I don't let the teacher down. But, if it's like a boring class and the teacher stinks, and, you know. . Kind of on and off. I just try to get through the class. (Interview, Jasper, 1997). At Metropolitan High Jasper was in the college track classes through his high school career. Even with his special needs (dyslexia) he maintains high grades. Most of the classes at Metropolitan High were not too bad. The X classes were pretty hard, and the AP classes, but for the most pan, if you went to class and did your work, you were going to pass with As and Bs. The teachers, they're pretty good. There are always those that just nobody likes and you wonder why they are teaching. (Interview, 1997). When a question about how his teachers responded to him as an African American male, Jasper suggests that most of his teachers respected him because he was always a good student (B average) throughout high schooL Most of my teachers liked me a lot. They knew I do pretty good work and stuff like that. And especially if I had a teacher for a second time. However, I felt they had more high expectations for all the White kids in schooL They 82

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probably expect more from them than the minority is the rule. (Interview, Jasper, 1997). Question: Is it Cool to be Smart Among Your Friends? Yeah, nobody gives you a bard time for, you know, for being the smart guy. You don't get like looked down upon at all or nothing like that. (Interview, Jasper, 1997). Positive Factors in the Community Question: How do you resist negative peer pressures and dangerous situations? One, just try to avoid them in the first place, if possible. And, I know who my friends are and I know the people, you know, you don't really want to hang around with if you don't want to get in trouble, or do what you're not supposed to be doing, probably. Like if I was at a party or something, you know if it's time to leave, cause a certain group of guys are walking in the door you know its time to go. . Most of the time it's people I know, and it's my neighborhood pretty much., so I'm not really like afraid of anybody or nothing like that. You know, rm ... they pretty much know me and they don't bother me. (Interview, 1997). Most of Jasper's friends don't live in his neighborhood. When he was in elementary school, he went to a different school than the school in his neighborhood. His friends who are from other parts of town know that he has work to do after school because most of his friends are in his classes. "Like ... We are in the same classes and have the same paper to do, you really don't say, nah, I can't go out man, and I have to write that dang research paper before going out. They are all doing the same. (Interview, Jasper, 1997). When asked about the adults in the community and if they monitor the young people's behavior, Jasper shares that the adults in his neighborhood do monitor his behavior. 83

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I don't know about other neighborhoods, but if some adult sees me driving down the street, acting all crazy or something, rm sure they will . . My dad he's like the block captain of our neighborhood and he is all into the neighborhood programs like the "Weed and Seed" program. He knows pretty much everybody, so like rve got eyes on me all the time. And like he 'II keep after some kids, like if some kids are like out late at night, he will go over there and say, "you guys ought to be quiet." (Interview, Jasper, 1997). Case Study #4: Steve Steve's Background Steve lives in the upper area of the Metropolitan Community with his mother, father and three siblings, an older brother and two younger sisters. Steve attended a magnet school that focuses on Arts (Metropolitan School of the Arts) from sixth grade through twelfth grade. He attended Metropolitan High School for his academics and the middle school in the community for his arts classes. Steve plays the trumpet in the School of the Arts jazz band and concert band. He also participates in the Metropolitan Public Schools All City Marching Band program. Steve's band teacher considers Steve as one of the top trumpet players in the state. He has participated in a number of state band and orchestra competitions throughout his high school career, but stresses that jazz music is his what he wants to pursue. Protective Factors in the Family Steve's parents decided to live in the Metropolitan Community even with its negative reputation because they liked the homes in the neighborhood. They both insist that as parents they need to be involved and support their children wherever you live. However, because the Metropolitan Community bas a reputation for drugs and 84

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gang violence, they agreed that you may have to be more diligent with your children. However, Steve is involved in so many activities away from the neighborhood that he seldom interacts with many of the young people in the community (Field Notes, 1998). When I asked Steve how he would handle the negative peer pressure and dangerous situations that confront young men in his community and at school, he responded by telling me what his mother always told him to do. The only way I think you resist those things is to remember what your family teaches you about what is right and wrong; and you can always use your mom as an excuse. Whenever I need to remove myself from people who may do negative things, I will say.,. "My mom told me to come home; my mom said so." That's what my mom always encouraged me to do. Whenever rm in a jam, just say, "My mom said so .,..,. You know. My mom is a real communicator. Whenever I walk in the door, I find myself sitting down for fifteen minutes just telling her about whatever I did that day, or what's going on, or whatever she needs me to do. . And ... then. . I then go do homework and practice. (Interview, Steve, 1998). Steve claims that his mother is the most influential person in his life, because unlike his father, she is intimately involved with him; she is extremely supportive; and does not criticize him much. During a home visit, his mother spoke of his maturity. (Field Notes, 1998). Yes, we've given him support, but he is responsible enough to "strike" out on his own. He does a lot of things on his own-a lot of positive things that sometimes we're not even aware of . And, I like the fact that he shows a lot of respect for the teachers at school. So, I like that. You know, a lot of kids are scholarly, but they're still not as respectful as they should be. I have never had that problem with Steve. Never. (Interview, Steve's Mother, 1998). However, Teny's mother asserts there were limits on his outside activities: We ... always had curfews. As far as his friends, we never had any problem with that. The people he would associate with were okay ... We had some problems with the older boy, because he was going through a phase of finding 85

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himself But Steve missed all of that. He was always involved in his music at an early age. (Interview, Steve's Mother, 1998). Protective Factors at School Steve attended two schools during his freshman, sophomore and junior years of high school: one was the School of Arts at the middle school in the community, and the other was Metropolitan High SchooL During his senior year of 1998, the district's magnet school of the arts opened its own school and housed the academic program along with the ans program. Steve maintains that he enjoyed both settings. Wel4 Metropolitan I liked Metropolitan a lot. I had a lot of fun there. My brother went there, too, so, I mean-I walked in with the reputation of my brother and got to know a lot of people because of it. The school was a happy school and a lot bigger than Denver School of Arts. I guess my senior year is a lot different here at Denver School of Arts. A little softer environment I think, at Metropolitan High it was about having fun. It was a more jock-type atmosphere. But a lot of my friends were serious about their academics, too. Academics are pretty important in my family. There were times that I didn't do my homework and just procrastinated and messed around and my parents were on my butt. Steve admits that the two schools are different when it comes to teacher expectations: Yeah, I think at the Denver School of the Arts the expectations are higher. I don't know, whenever somebody associates arts, you associate a higher group. (Interview, Steve, 1998). When the question about friends came up, Steve asserts: In the past, I used to act different just because it's what my friends were doing; I did what my close friends were doing. So you adapted to how they were, and when you were at home you acted different. Lately, maybe because I'm older, I just start acting the same way all the time. Which is the way I am now. 86

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Steve claims that his mother and :father taught him and his older brother how to behave. They taught them what is appropriate behavior, and everything a Black child needs to know in order to conform to social expectations and to avoid the disfiguring sense of place prescribed for African American males. (Field Notes, I 998). Protective Factors in the Community During a home visit, Steve's parents recall a time when the community provided many more outlets for students to discover their interest and talents such as businesses, libraries, and recreation centers. They even suggest that the young people in their community do not have opportunities to interact positively with peers and adults, as they once did. Steve admits that he doesn't spend much time in his neighborhood, but he does feel safe in his neighborhood. He says that he handles negative peer pressure and dangerous situations by not hanging out and doing nothing. You just don't be around all the time. You know there are certain times that you can hang out, and there are other times when cenain people are around you know not to hang out. There are like six or seven neighborhood kids that I know real well. We hang out at each other's houses, watch movies, you know ... sometimes go out to one of the parties you bear about. (Interview, Steve, I 998). Summary of Case Studies and Early Findings The resilient young men identified in this study were successful in scboo4 had adequate peer, family, and school support systems that function as protective factors facilitating academic success. They were socialized into mainstream society, did well academically, and maintained a strong identification with their ethnic group. These traits have been described as being biculturality, which is the ability to draw simultaneously on standardized African American group behavior and on behaviors accepted by the mainstream cultural system. Bicultural people and the young men in this study actively participate in both cultures, have extensive interactions within each 87

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environment, and adopt behaviors that allow them to adjust to a variety of different environmental demands. This was critical to their resilience and persistence while growing up in their community. The other findings important to this study were how these four young men were able to negotiate through a web of adversity. The phrase that I use for this type of cultural adaptation is to "walk on both sides of the street., This means that even the young Black males whose home lives reflect mainstream values, and their homes do, they must be able to handle themselves in a street-oriented environment. This is because the street culture has evolved into what may be called a code of the streets,. which amounts to a set of informal rules governing interpersonal public behavior, including violence. The rules prescribe both a proper comportment and a proper way to respond if challenged. Knowledge of the code is thus largely defensive; it is literally necessary for operating in public. Therefore, even though the families in this study have a decency orientation and are usually opposed to the values of the code, they often reluctantly encourage their young men's familiarity with it to enable them to negotiate the inner-city environment. Conclusion On one final note, it is interesting to discuss the uniqueness of the resilience phenomenon. Usually, 10 percent of the general population is resilient (Werner & Smith, 1992). This is because one-third, or 33 percent of the general population is at risk. One-third of that third, or 11 percent of the general population, is resilient (Werner & Smith, 1992). Two-thirds of the population is not at risk and therefore is not eligible to be resilient; only one-third of the at-risk population is resilient. This phenomenon, known as resilience, has drawn increasing attention from educational researchers as a viable, new discipline that might enhance our 88

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understanding of at-risk students and help us find ways to mitigate the effect of risks and adversities. As Winfield ( 1991) noted. "In order to move beyond simply identifYing and categorizing youth at the focus must necessarily shift to understanding the notion of resilience. . The critical uses for policy and instruction center around identifying the protective processes and mechanisms that reduce risk and foster resilience 89

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CHAPTERS THEMES EMERGING FROM ANALYSES OF SUBJECTS The analysis and information gathered from the four case studies indicate that the components that protected the four young men from negative and destructive behavior can be grouped by categories and linked by overarching themes. They are: social comp;..'1:ence, problem-solving skills, autonomy, sense of purpose and adaptive behavior, school achievement, extra curricular activities, and strong family support system. A phrase occurring often in the literature of resiliency sums up this type of person as one who "works well, plays well, loves well, and expects well," (Garmezy, 1974; Werner & Smith, 1982). However, the following, more specific attributes have been consistently identified when describing the resilient adolescent: social competence, problem-solving skills, and autonomy (Benard, 1991 ). Conversely, the overarching theme that clearly emerges as a powerful predictor for each of the young men in this study is the quality of the immediate care giving environment, which was determined by the following characteristics: caring and support, high expectations, and opportunities for participation in the family, school, and community (Benard, 1991). Additionally, these four young men had male role models and male bonding, identity creation and self-esteem, academic values and social skills, parents and community strengthening, transition to manhood, and a safe haven that (Ascher, 1992) suggest are important for African American males in school and community based programs. It was evident that all the participants enjoyed these ingredients in their daily lives. Furthermore, they all concluded that because they were involved in after school extra curricular activities and special summer programs designed for 90

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inner-city youth, and participating in the many family activities, were the reasons they were able to stay out of "harm's way" in the Metropolitan Community. Summarv of the Methodology The primary research population featured in this study were four African American high school students who live in the Metropolitan Community of Denver and have graduated from Metropolitan High SchooL Secondary participants who were a part of this study provided important "triangulation," (Merriam, 1989). They included parents, teachers, and community members. The critical considerations guiding this methodology and the questions were drawn from the literature review: Why are some young Black male students more resilient that others? What are the so-called "protective factors,'' or those conditions that foster resiliency in the Black male despite the negative odds they face? The data of this study consisted of information from in-depth and reflective interviews, participant observations, and requested, unintended, and related artifacts (Glesne & Peskin, 1992; Merriam, 1989; Yin, 1989). The study took place in four phases. The initial preliminary meeting was with school officials at Metropolitan High School who nominated ten adolescent African American young men. The main criteria were that the young men must have lived in the Metropolitan Community since early childhood and had "'overcome the odds, to be successful in middle school and high school. At that meeting I explained the purpose of the study, clarified expectations of the participants and gave parent permission forms to participate in the study. During the second phase, a meeting was scheduled with the parents of the young men who agreed to participate in the study. Once again, the researcher explained the purpose of the study and the role their sons would play in the study. The third phase was the 91

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actual interviews. A total of three interviews each were done in person and tape recorded. The final phase of data collection was observations and two to three interviews each with parents, school officials, and adult community members. Data analysis was conducted using techniques designed by Strauss ( 1987), and Strauss and Corbin (1990) These techniques include the use of a coding paradigm, as well as coding techniques advocated by the same researchers including three levels: open coding,. axial coding,. and selective coding Open coding: The process of breaking down, examining, comparing,. conceptualizing,. and categorizing data will be the process for analyzing data for this study. The Research Questions 1. What are the protective mechanisms that foster healthy development and learning success of selected adolescent African American males? 2. What are the factors in resiliency that have contributed to school success for selected adolescent African American males? Emerging Themes And Findings Profile of The Resilient Child 'Works Well,. Plays Well, Loves Well, and Expects Well" Social Competence Benard ( 1991) suggests that the commonly identified attribute of resilient children usually includes the qualities of responsiveness, flexibility, empathy and caring, communication skills,. a sense of humor, and any other prosocial behavior. Not only do most studies on resiliency document some of these attributes, these attributes were also evident in the case studies ofLarry, Terry, Jasper, and Steve All four young men demonstrated that they are considerably more responsive 92

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(and can elicit more positive responses from others) and have the ability to thrive and increase competence in the face of adverse circumstances. These circumstances, as described in their case studies. include living in the inner-city where poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are commonplace and high stress can affect home and school as well as family functioning. Furthermore. one of the greatest obstacles facing the four young men in this study is that their culture differs from the mainstream culture. This obstacle was overcome because the researcher believes they took on a bicultural identity. Clark ( 1991) argues this is the process through which the students maintain an identity with some behaviors of their own culture, yet allow themselves to become socialized in the mainstream. Without doubt, even with the experiences of racism, the young men in this study learned effective ways of coping and thus developed a bicultural identity. They were socialized into mainstream society, did well academically, and most imponantly, maintained a strong identification with their ethnic group. Valentine (1971) describes biculturality as the ability to draw simultaneously on standardized African American group behavior and on behaviors accepted by the mainstream cultural system. The findings for Terry, Larry, Jasper, and Steve are consistent for bicultural people. They actively participate in both cultures,. have extensive interaction within each environment, and adopt behaviors that allow them to adjust to a variety of different environmental demands. They achieved a bicultural identity by being exposed to different environments, and they bad the ability to view cultural diversity as an asset. They also developed skills that were problem-focused (i.e., discussing the problem) instead of emotion-focused (i.e., fighting or verbally insulting the other person) as ways of handling racism and discrimination (Clark, 1991 ). Even though none of the young men indicated that they bad no direct experience with racism that was blatant and obvious discrimination like that which 93

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existed in the South during Tun Crow segregation, they all suggested they had experiences that kept them guessing whether it was or was not racist. Larry remembers that there were popular teachers in the college preparatory track who seemed friendly toward their White students, but were cold and matter-of-fact with Black students. Social Competence Clark ( 1991) asserts that identifying African American adolescents who are at risk and those who are considered resilient depends on whether the desired outcome is academic competence or social competence. Most African American adolescents with raceless and bicultural social identities are not at risk for academic failure. Developing these identities is considered a form of resiliency. Nevertheless, Clark states that those with a raceless identity may be a risk for social development. Commitment to a raceless persona may result in alienation from other African American students at school and in the community. Alienation from same-race peers may be problematic, especially for African American adolescents who live in Black communities and attend majority-Black schools. Their peer support system is lacking at a stage when peers should play an important role in their development. It was evident from the findings that Larry, Terry, Jasper, and Steve were not at risk for social development. Problem Solving Skills Problem solving skills include the ability to think abstractly, reflectively, and flexibly and to be able to attempt alternate solutions for both cognitive and social problems (Benard, 1991). The literature on .. street" children growing up in the slums of the United States and other countries provides an extreme example of the role these skills play in the development or resiliency since these children must continually and 94

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successfully negotiate the demands of their environment or not survive (F elsman, 1989). Even though the four participants in this study were not considered "street" children. they all possessed the skill of problem-solving. They are familiar with the "street" culture that bas been called a code of the streets. Above alL this knowledge has enabled them to handle themselves in a street oriented environment. Resourcefulness Benard (1991) descn'bes resourcefulness as the ability to critically, creatively, and reflectively make decisions, to seek help from others, and to recognize alternative ways to solve problems and resolve conflict It became obvious during the interviews, that all four of the participants in this study shared early experiences of positive identity, along with resourcefulness They had their own sense of power, purpose, and promise. During their middle school days and thereafter, they performed high academically and had positive social acceptance for who they were and what they wanted. Each person expressed a personal desire to be successful. Nonetheless, each of the participants had to overcome multiple cognitive, cultural and attitudinal barriers regarding the value of academic success Each one had developed strategies to cope with the aspects of this inner and outer conflict Adaptation When individuals are judged to be resilient, the implication is that they have displayed adaptive behavior despite facing risks and adversity (Masten. 1989) 95

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Understanding resilience requires that obstacles to adaptation be understood, and that the standard for or definition of adaptive behavior be delineated. Adaptation in the study of resilience, as in the study of developmental psychopathology, is defined in terms of the attainment of psychosocial milestones called developmental tasks (Masten & Braswell.. 1991 ). Developmental tasks represent broadly defined standards or expectations for behavior at various points in the life span. Boykin (I 986) suggests that the academic achievement of African American children and adolescents is influenced by mainstream experiences, minority experiences, and African American cultural experiences. Each experience has its own unique socialization pattern. Success in each requires mastering three distinctive patterns of behaviors. Boykin concludes African American children face a .. triple quandary.', They are incompletely socialized into mainstream society, they develop a behavioral style that stems from their African heritage, and they experience racial and economic oppression. Academic and social competence, according to Boykin, depends on one's ability to adapt to all three arenas of socialization Ogbu (1992) reported nine strategies used by African American students to deal with the cultural differences faced while dealing with achievement in school. I. Emulating Whites or adopting "White', academic attitudes and behaviors which extracts a high psychological cost. 2 Accommodating without assimilation, which is an alternative strategy. One school counselor said about this approach : "The student seems to have the motto of'"Do your Black thing (in the community), but know the White-man thing (at school)', 3. Acting, or camouflaging, a scheme which may take on a variety of techniques such as becoming the class clown, being an athlete, or participating in other activities, which are acceptably African American. 96

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4. Involvement in church activities creates a peer group apart from schooL often with others who are empathetic. 5. Attending a private school is a way to avoid peers. 6. Having a mentor who serves as a role model enhances academic success. 7. Some students align themselves with students who can protect them physically. 8. Intervention and remedial programs provide opportunities and encouragement for students to succeed. 9. Encapsulation is the term to describe the action of academic sucCessful youth succumbing to the pressures of the peer group, their way of thinking and activities. However, from the personal observations, personal communications and formal interviews, I determined that the young men in this study did not have to use any of the strategies that Ogbu suggests for survival in schooL Contrary to some with regards to African Americans doing well in school and being ostracized, the four participants in this study indicated that being smart at school was okay and maybe even "cooL" Terry states: "Nobody wants to hang around a dummy." He asserts that in some cases, friends who were doing poorly were pleased to have a partner who was "smart" and encouraged their achieving friend to continue doing welL However, Steve confesses that in the past he would adapt to how other Black males were acting in schooL which sometimes got him in trouble with teachers, but it was more important to be respected by peers and be a part of the crowd. You had to appear that you were "hip" and knew what "was happening.,, However, he stresses that because he is older he doesn't have to prove a thing to anyone anymore. He says he is confident about himself and bas developed his own identity. 97

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Autonomy Different researchers have used different terms to refer to autonomy. For example, Anthony refers to a "strong sense of independence'' ( 1987); Garmezy to an "internal locus of control" and "sense of power" (1974 and 1991); Rutter and Garmezy to "self-esteem" and (1983); and others to ''self-discipline" and "impulse control., Essentially, the protective factor researchers are talking about is a sense of one's own identity and an ability to act independently and exen some control over one's environment. The development of resistance (refusing to accept negative messages about oneself or one's culture) and of detachment (distancing oneself from parental, school, or community dysfunction) serve as powerful protectors of autonomy. Conversely, all the participants in this study knew the "code of the streets" of their community, and were able to "walk on both sides of the street. Of all the problems besetting the Metropolitan Community, none is more pressing then that of interpersonal violence and aggression. It wreaks havoc daily with the lives of community residents and increasingly spills over into downtown and residential middle-class areas. Simply living in such an environment places young people at special risk of falling victim to aggressive behavior. The four young men in this study have lived in this environment all of their young lives. Furthermore, it was evident that they were well aware of their environment Each participant discussed his social experiences and behavior as he crossed into and out of two inner-city communities: one, an economically disadvantaged African American community; the other, an integrated community experiencing gentrification. 98

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They were keenly aware of the perceptions by how they were viewed (e.g., with fear, suspicion, or apprehension) by others. For example, Steve indicated there were times when he adopted styles of speech or physical posture that were defensive in nature and designed to preempt exploitation by other young men. Conversely, Jasper was aware of the suspicion with which others viewed and would engage in acts of kindness and helpfulness aimed at disproving stereotypical characterizations of him as uncivil and inclined toward criminal behavior. The net effect of the social environment, and the strategies of negotiation all the participants use, clearly indicated that these youngsters who live in the urban setting may have to "walk on both sides of the street., Family Effects In negotiating their desire for greater autonomy, adolescents often experience increased conflicts with parents. However, the findings in this study confirmed the importance of the parent-child relationship in forming positive relationships. All four of the young men had achieved a confident sense of identity. The development of independence from parents was a critical psychosocial task that the participants had to achieve in becoming autonomous, self-sufficient, productive, and competent young men. All of the young men stress that their parents were important as sources of encouragement. All the subjects were closely supported by members of their families. They reported that their parents always had time for them, would help them with their homework, clearly rewarded success, punished failure and were generally "on their case." The young men in the study were generally able to identify with at least one caregiver who provides them with attention and support. All four indicated that their mother was that person. 99

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For example, Steve claims that his mother is the most influential person in his life, because, unlike his father, she is intimately involved with him; she is extremely supportive; and does not criticize him much. Sense ofPurpose and Future Related to sense of autonomy and self-efficacy and the belief that one can have some degree of control over one's environment is another characteristic of resilient children--a sense of purpose and future. Within this category fall several related attributes invariably identified in the protective factor literature: health expectancies, goal-directness, success orientation, achievement motivation, educational aspirations, persistence, hopefulness, hardiness, belief in a bright future, a sense of anticipation, a sense of a compelling future, and sense of coherence. This factor appears to be a most powerful predictor of positive outcomes. Werner and Smith also validate the power of this attribute in summarizing their 3 5-year study of resiliency in childhood: "The central component of effective coping with the multiplicity of inevitable life stresses appears to be a sense of coherence, a feeling of confidence that one, s internal and external environment is predictable and that things will probably work out as well as can be reasonably expected," ( 1982). All four young men in this study seem to possess this attribute in their daily lives. For example, Larry expresses it this way: cr know the people I should avoid and I know how to avoid bad situations." He concludes by stating that he cannot change the world and cannot change the behavior of others. However, he is confident that no one can influence him either. Personal Communication). Jasper expresses it this way: ''There is lot of gang stuff in the community, but I just really didn't have time for it. I was cool with them, stuff like that, but they knew it was useless to try and involve me.,, Nonetheless, those who consider the 100

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street comer their turf have a disproportionate influence on the rest. A couple of decades ago things were different. Nerds were teased but also recalls Thierry Fortune of Motivational Educational Entertainment, a Philadelphia market research finn specializing in "at-risk urban youth.,, There was "a constant reinforcement in terms of doing well in school,, observes Fortune, that is largely missing today, he believes, because the generation is raising itself to a substantial degree. Although many of its members hunger for greater adult presence, they find refuge in a culture of alienation 1997). Even among archetypal good kids, the pressure to be "down'' (hard, streetsmart) is strong. For example, Terry points to a friend at Metropolitan High as an example. His buddy is extremely bright, but is "so caught up in the whole thing of being 'down,' 'keeping it real,' he has completely lost all sense ofwho he is," observes Terry. "He slacks off in his work ... because he does not want to be perceived as being "White, or being a nerd or being a geek." (Terry, Personal Communication). Terry understands his friend's dilemma, since his own respectful deportment has led some acquaintances to suggest he was "not being Black But the charge strikes him as nonsensical. "What is being Black?" he asks rhetorically. It's a great deal more, he believes, than embodying a stereotype. '1: can 'keep it real' on the street comer with my homies,, he says, "but where is that going to get me in life? Is it going to get me a good job? Is it going to get me a good education? No! I think that the only way you can honestly, truly get ahead in life is by staying true to who you are." (Interview, Terry, 1997). Summary While research also ascribes a few other characteristics, such as good health and being female, to resilient children, the attributes of social competence, problem101

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solving skills, autonomy, and sense of purpose appear to be the common threads running through the personalities of resilient children-those who "work well, play well, love well, and expect well"-no matter their health or gender status. Conversely, this is true for the resilient young men in this study. Benard ( 1991) claims looking beyond the children themselves to their environments-their families, and communities-the protective characteristics that appear to facilitate the development of resiliency in youth fall into three categories: (I) caring and suppon; (2) high expectations; and (3) opportunities for children to participate. Research bas shown that shifting the balance, or tipping the scales from vulnerability to resilience, may happen as a result of one person or one opponunity. Benard suggests that individuals who have succeeded in spite of adverse environmental conditions in their families, schools, and/or communities often have done so because of the presence of environmental suppon in the form of one family member, one teacher, one school, or one community person who encouraged their success and welcomed their participation It is obvious, that even though. Terry, Larry, Jasper, and Steve live in the same Metropolitan Community environment, their experiences in their families, school and neighborhood were are all different. However, as Benard suggests, the protective characteristics of caring and suppon, high expectations, and opportunities to participate in valued family, school, and civic activities were prevalent in their lives as young children and continued as they grew into young men in high school. 102

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CHAPTER6 SUMMARY, CONCLUSION, RECOMMENDATIONS Summary of Studv The power elite bas unfortunately been very slow to recognize that the future of the American economy and the American city is inextricably tied to the fate of young Black males. If they cannot contribute to the economy, they will drain more and more of its resources. If they cannot participate in the revitalization of the cities, they will oversee urban decay and urban chaos. If they are locked out of the technological and scientific advances of the next decade, the United States will enter the 21st century with more serious social, political, and economic problems, placing the nation at an even greater competitive disadvantage and threatening its position as the leader of the Western world (Gtbbs, 1988). Such a scenario may seem panicularly pessimistic and farfetched to some suggests Gibbs, but already discomforting signs of this growing disaffection of young Black males from society and society's repressive reaction to them are appearing. Most of the hostility has been directed against young Black males, who are viewed with ambivalence, fear, or hostility by so many groups in this society. As long as they serve as the screen on which other Americans project their own anger, anxieties, and fantasies, young Black males will provide the lightning rod for racial prejudice and the justification for racial oppression. Ironically, argues Gibbs, while census takers cannot manage to locate Black males, schools cannot manage to teach them, and businesses cannot manage to hire them, draft boards seem to be very successful at recruiting them in times of war or 103

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national emergencies. Black soldiers played a major role in both the Korean and the Vietnam where they were underrepresented in the officer corps, but overrepresented in the "body count.'' While today's young Black males may not be enumerated in the census, may not achieve in the and may not be counted in the labor force, they are still far from invisible. They cannot be dismissed by the rhetoric of politicians or the analysis of social scientists. They intrude on the nation's consciousness and appeal to the nation's conscience. Their plight is worsening, their pain is growing, and their anger is escalating. Our society must make "the invisible visible" and must bring these Black youth into the social, economic, and political mainstream (Gibbs, 1988). Hopefully, this study has verified how the identification of resilience and the capacity for effective coping is part of the essence of prevention. Therefore, future research could focus on how resiliency and the protective factors can prevent the escalating cycles of deviance and dysfunctional behavior of some of our young African American males. It became very clear from the research on the four young Black males in this study that protective factors in the family, school, and the community can affect their ability to succeed Summary of Findings While the claim that young Black males are an endangered species may be overstated, there can be no doubt that there is a crisis among those who become high school dropouts. Because society bears high health care, criminal justice, and welfare costs, this crisis calls for immediate attention The evidence suggests that the number ofBlack males in crisis can be substantially reduced, ifwe help Black males ages 10 to 15 in high-risk family and neighborhood environments develop the competencies they need to make successful transitions to adu!thood. 104

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The critical considerations which guided this study were grounded on three questions: Why are some young Black male students more resilient that others? What are the so-called "protective factors," or those conditions that foster resiliency in the Black male despite the negative odds they face? And, how does a young African American become not merely "problem free;, but also confident and competent? The four young men in this case study each encountered risk factors growing up. There were potent predictors of negative developmental outcomes that had affected other Black adolescent males in their cohort. They all live in a community (Metropolitan) where poverty and unemployment rates are high, drugs and violent crimes are commonplace, and high stress affects both home and school environments, as well as family functioning. However, the findings in this case study revealed what the literature suggested that resilient youth, which includes the young men in this study were responsible, mature, motivated, socially connected and eager to be successful in school. The theoretical framework for this case study was to examine and explain how resiliency and the protective factors in the family, school, and the community affected young African American males to succeed. The findings from this study strongly suggest that the protective factors identified with resiliency, were clearly a factor in their success as students. The findings also revealed they had positive relationships with their families, friends, and other adults in their lives Furthermore, they were socially competent, and effective problem-solvers, who were able to negotiate through a web of adversity at their school and in their neighborhood. It was even suggested by their principal, that all four of them were more responsible, mature, achievement motivated, and socially connected than their less competent high risk contemporaries Early assessments indicated that they had a number of early advantages, including good relationships with their caregivers. more attention and 105

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less separation from their caregivers, less family conflict, exposure to fewer life stressors, and better physical health. They were successful in school, had adequate peer, family, and school support systems that function as protective factors facilitating academic success. The other critical consideration and question that was always at the forefront while conducting this research was: How can resiliency and the protective factors prevent the escalating cycles of deviance of dysfunctional behavior of young African American males? Even though it is unlikely tliat the findings from this study would show immediate results in the mitigation of youth criminal activities, it was necessary, however, to examine the protective factors and the process of resilience and their roles in interventions with African American male adolescents. The hope is that they will be better equipped to deal with the realities that they will face as they enter their teen and young adult years. Finally, Benard (1991) suggests the findings from resiliency research offer a new paradigm for defining problems and framing solutions, a paradigm that emphasizes caring, support and positive high expectations for youth, as well as opportunities for them to participate in meaningful school and civic activities. It is also a paradigm that relies less on infusing more money into the educational system than on changing existing beliefs and practices. The notion of resiliency brings more than a message of hope; it brings the real possibility for positive developmental and academic outcomes for all children and youth. 106

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Conclusions Why Focus on Young Black Males? Even with the socioeconomic and political indicators that illustrate that African American males are facing an unprecedented crisis, they must acquire self confidence and self-esteem within the chaos of modern economic and social life. The African American male is his own liberator, and regardless of the number and sincerity ofhis allies, he either must save himself or be lost forever (Karenga, :986). The African American male must be accepted as part of the American society and not be looked at as being the American problem. What steps can be taken to integrate the African American male into American society? This study provided an conceptual tool for rethinking the way solutions are framed and thus how these problems are best addressed. At its heart is the notion of resiliency; the potential for young Black males to develop into healthy, productive, competent adults despite experiences of severe stress and adversity. Traditioi.'Ial prevention efforts have focused almost exclusively on identifying the so-called risk factors in the young Black male's life (poveny, abuse and community violence, for example) and then attempting to provide services that would eliminate or mitigate those conditions. While no one disputes the urgent need to improve conditions for many Black males, the approach has inherent limitations, chief among them is the labeling of youth as "at risk,'' which often results in lowered expectations based on youth-perceived deficits. Moreover, identifying the risks in a child's environment does not necessarily result in introduction of appropriate services or in successful mitigation. By contrast, the notion of resiliency emerges from a focus on the positive aspects of a child's life rather than the negatives. Resiliency has long been associated with surviving trauma and other stressful life events (Benard, 1991). Bonnie Benard and other researchers have opted to look not at why some children succumb to the 107

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negative influences of their but why other children thrive despite the same general conditions. Rather than identifYing the risk factors contributing to failure, researchers have identified some common "protective factors" that help youth survive risky environments. Their findings argue for the development of policies and programs that aim by design to foster resilience in children and youth. In the realm of there is emerging consensus that this can best be achieved by enacting policies that build upon the strengths and life experiences of children and youth. their families and their communities (Benard). Impediments to the Development of Black Male Adolescents For Black males, successfully completing the tasks associated with adolescent development has often been problematic due to a complex set of interacting historical and social factors that often inhibit success. This significant lack of mastery negatively influences Black adolescents' academic, professional, and social success in later life Historically, manhood has not been a birthright for Black who have not generally been granted traditional masculine privilege or power in the United States (Hernton, 1965; Lee, 1992; Staples 1983) Social, cultural, and economic forces manifested in racism and oppression throughout American history have combined to keep Black males from assuming traditionally accepted masculine roles (Staples, 1983). The persistence of such barriers to the achievement and expression of manhood has contributed to Black males failure, in many instances, to master crucial adolescent developmental tasks. Racism and socioeconomic disadvantage often converge to impact negatively on the adolescent development of Black males, who are often confronted with 108

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extreme environmental stress during the crucial early years of life (Staples, I 983 ). For example, a significant number of Black males, particularly in urban are born into home and community environments characterized by traditions of poverty, crime, unemployment, inequitable educational opportunities, and a perceived sense of social and cultural alienation. Young males nunured in such environments may experience difficulty in mastering the developmental tasks that characterize the childhood and adolescent years. Successful completion of these developmental tasks can be further hampered by school experiences often distinguished by ineffective teaching strategies and educators' predetermined negative views ofBlack males and their learning potential (Hale, I 982 & Patton, I 98 I). Rather than developing a sense of industry that comes with mastering reading, writing, and computing skills in elementary school, many young Black male students experience fillstration with the teaching-learning process, thus laying the groundwork for future academic and social failure. Mincy (I 994) suggests it is not unusual, then. for Black males to reach adolescence with a basic mistrust of their environment, doubts abou:. their abilities, and confusion about their place in the world. This makes developing an identity during the adolescent years extremely problematic. Compounding this problem is the fact that many adolescent Black males may have to engage in the process of identity forlillltion with minimal or no positive adult male role modeling. The developmental passage to aduithood thus becomes a confusing experience for many Black male youths, because the evolution of gender-appropriate roles and behaviors for Black men has often been stifled by historical and social powerlessness. By the age of 18 or 19, the sum total of these impediments to adolescent development can often be seen in negative and self -destructive values, attitudes, and behaviors among young Black males. These, in turn, have resulted in academic 109

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underachievement, unemployment, delinquency, substance abuse, homicide, and incarceration in disproportionate numbers for Black male youth (Gibbs, 1988). Policy formulation and program implementation for nurturing Black male youth must be based on an understanding of the complex dimensions associated with adolescent Black male development. These dimensions are challenging in a society that has historically placed Black men at social and economic risk (Mincy, 1994). The Development of Adolescent Black Males Appreciating the development of adolescent Black males requires an understanding of the cultural dynamics that can positively shape that development. Over the past several decades, Black educators and psychologists have found aspects of the Black cultural experience in America that have evolved out of African tradition and that have a significant effect on the psychological and social development of Blacks in this country (Mincy, 1994). Black culture is comprised of the attitudes, behaviors, values, and lifestyles that have developed in relatively homogeneous Black communities in which rudimentary Afrocentric ways of life have been largely preserved. Examining the core of this culture reveals that Americans of African descent have developed a world view that reflects the historical experience of Black people in America and is based on African cultural and philosophical traditions. These traditions stress harmony among people and harmony between people and their external environment, and foster self and group development through behavioral expressiveness (Nobles, 1980). From an early age, Black male youth tend to be socialized into these traditions in the home and larger Black community (Staples, 1983). These traditions form the basis of survival strategies, coping mechanisms, and forms of resistance to the racial and gender bias that has confronted Black males in American society. 110

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A synthesis of these cultural traditions is readily apparent in the personality dynamics ofBiack male youth and can be considered the basis of a distinct Black male culture (Kunjufu, 1986). Majors ( 1986) refers to these personality dynamics as "cool pose" and considers them to be the cornerstone of urban Black male identity. These dynamics are manifested in the following ways: Social Behavior There is a unique dynamism associated with the social behavior of urban adolescent Black males. For instance, their peer group interactions are often characterized by high levels of energy that tend to be very physical and demonstrative. Authenticity Adolescent Black males have a propensity to exhibit reaL and authentic behavior in all interactions-that is, for "being for real" or "l:elling it like it is.,, They tend not to stifle their true thoughts, feelings, or behaviors in most social situations. While such authenticity may not always be appreciated or understood by others, Black male youths tend to cut to the heart of a matter with their genuineness. Language and Speech The language and speech of urban adolescent Black males are highly expressive and exhibit considerable creativity. Colorful slang expressions: "woofing" (making verbal threats not backed up by actions), "playing the dozens'' (trading verbal insults) and the popular "rap" vernacular are innovative ways to communicate both the trivial and the profound. Often these expressive linguistic traditions are used in order to diffuse tension between young males that could lead to physical 111

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aggresston. For example, the often harsh verbal volleying that accompanies "woofing" can prevent two young Black males from coming to physical blows. Adolescent Black males in urban areas find creative ways to put their personalities on display. One has only to examine the style and flair exhibited in the play ofBlack males on a basketball court, the swagger associated with walking, hats worn at a jaunty angle, distinctive handshakes, fancy sneakers, or flashy articles of clothing to appreciate this expressiveness. For young Black males, these displays of style are attempts to make a proud statement about themselves. Successful mastery of the developmental tasks of adolescence is facilitated by the healthy expression of the above dynamics on the part of Black male youth. As Majors (1986) suggests, these personality dynam1cs have also been an important coping mechanism. Rather than use anger and frustration to confront the racism and oppression that characterize the Black experience in America, Black males have channeled their energies into the development of expressive personality dynamics. Such dynamics significantly contribute to Black male survival. Implications for Educating African American Males It is recognized that schools in inner-cities are being called upon to play an increasing role in the lives of their students, and that there are real limits to what can reasonably be expected of schools. It is also clear that the problems and life stresses facing inner-city families and communities are unprecedented. Wllson ( 1997) amply described the problems of poverty, crime, and social isolation that beset our inner cities. These problems occur at a time when federal funding to cities and political leadership on domestic issues are in short supply; thus, the problems fall squarely on the shoulders of the children and adolescents, those who are least able to cope with 112

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them. Schools in inner cities are situated where they can play an active role in fostering the development of inner-city children and youth. In fact, some of the practices and procedures that might benefit youngsters currently either already exist or should be easy to implement. Masten (1989) describes several strategies used by schools to facilitate students' learning. For instance, homeless and economically disadvantaged families move frequently, forcing children to cope with the disruption of changing schools. Mobility magnet schools would allow families to cross boundaries into new school zones while the children remain in their original schools. This practice, although avoiding the potential impediments to youngsters, school performance and engagement, also allows them the opportunity to maintain relationships with peers. Recommendations Normative research on the development of African American children and adolescents is sorely needed. The manner in which African American adolescent males address developmental tasks has not been a focus in the literature on adolescent development. Social and educational policy-making is presently handicapped by a lack of basic information on the social and emotional development of African American males. For example, as African American male adolescents address the task of rationalizing their identity, they must do so in the context of constant negative portrayals of African Americans. It is not known how most African American males reconcile these negative depictions with their own self -conceptions and maintain high self-esteem (Spencer & Dornbusch, 1990). The means by which Black males address these tasks have clear implication for their schooling. Adolescent Black males who are unable to develop clear, personal decisions, lack the skills to successfully manage relations with peers, and who fail to perceive the relationship between basic academic skills and social well-being, are educationally at risk. 113

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This researcher is convinced that in order for "all" young particularly Black males, to successfully master the development of tasks of a commitment must be made to their personal and career preparation.. Social policy aimed at promoting adolescent development should focus on empowering healthy and capable young people with critical thinking skills, a sense of economic opportunities, high expectations, and significant social support. Such a policy should emphasize cooperation among school, and community. Strong families, good schools, and responsive communities form the basis of support that young people need to master adolescent developmental tasks and realize their full potential. 114

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APPENDIX INTERVIEW GUIDE Narrator ____________ Open-ended questions for all participants. A. What is it like growing up in your family? 1. What are some memorable events/experiences that you recall? 2. What kind of contact do you have with your grandparents and other family members? 3. How many siblings do you have? How would describe your relationship with them ? 4. Does your family encourage you to study? 5. How do you spend your time at home? 6. How do you spend your time after school? 7. How do you spend your summer vacation? 8. Do you have any responsibilities at home? 9. Are you encouraged and helped by your parents with your homework? 10. Do you have a good environment to do your homework? 11. What level of education have your parents attained? 12. Did your siblings do well in school? 13. How do you resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations? 14. Do you 'i:ell the truth even when it is not easy?'" 115

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B. What is it like in your school? I. Do you find school work in general easy or challenging? 2. Is the teaching in the high school effective? 2a Are you happy with most of your classes? 3. How would you rate yourself as a student? 3a Do your teachers rate you about the same? 4. How do you do on tests and exams? 5. Is it "coor to be smart among your friends? 6. Do the teachers have high expectations for you? 7. Do you feel safe in school? If why? 8. Do you feel respected by your peers? 9. Have you ever been suspended or disciplined for behavior? 10. Do you think you act differently in school than in other places (e.g. at home, church, etc.)? 11. Does the school provide a caring, encouraging environment? If so, how? 12. How many hours do you spend during the week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in community organizations? 13. How do you resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations at school? 14. Do you consider yourself to have a high self-esteem? 15. Tell me how you feel about doing well in school? 16. Are you involved in leadership roles at school? 116

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17. What has been one of your most memorable educational experiences? C. What is it like in your home? 1. Do you feel your family provides high levels of love and support? If how? 2. Do you feel you communicate positively with your parents and are you willing to seek advice and counsel? 3. Do you receive support from other non-parent adults? If so. how? 4. Do your parents have clear rules and consequences; and do they monitor your whereabouts? 5. Do you ever get help at home with school assignments? If so. by whom? 6. Do you feel pressure from home to do well in school? How? By whom? 7. Is there much contact between your family and the school? If so. what kind? 8. Do you watch TV every day? If so. how much? D. What is it like growing up in your neighborhood? 1. Who are your friends? 2. How do you spend your time with your friends? 3. Do your friends look up to you? 4. What kinds of extra curricula activities are you involved in at school and in the neighborhood? 5. Is it difficult to keep friends and be academically successful? If so. Why? 117

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6. Do you feel that that adults in the community value youth? If so. How? 1. Do your neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people's behavior? If so, How? 8. How many hours do you spend in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts? 9. How many hours during the week do you spend in activities in a religious institution? I 0. Do you feel safe at home and in the neighborhood? 11. How do you resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations in your neighborhood? 12. Is it difficult for a young man not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs? E. Future Plans 1. Are there any things you wish you knew more about or were able to do? 2. What do you usually do during the summer or what would you like to do? 3. Do you know what kind of work you will want to do when you are finished with your education? 4. Do you plan to go college? If so. what do you think you need to do now to prepare for that? 5. Axe you optimistic about your personal future? 6. Do you believe that "your life has a purpose?" 118

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The om set of questions are for the young men's parents and adults in the schooL and community. 1. Do you believe your son/the y01mg man is motivated to do well in school? Explain. 2. Do you believe your son/the young man cares about his school? Explain. 3. Do you believe your son/the young man places high value on helping other people? Explain. 4. Do you believe your son/the young man acts on convictions and stands up for his beliefs? 5 Do you believe the young man accepts and takes personal responsibility? 6. Do you believe your son/the young man knows how to plan ahead and make choices? 7. Do you believe your son/the young man has empatliy, sensitivity, and friendship skills? 8. Do you believe your son/the young man can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations? 9. Do you believe your son/young man feels he has control over" things that happen to him"? 119

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