By LENNOX FARRELL
“African-Born U.S. Residents are the Most Highly Educated Group in American Society.”
A search for similar information for these students in Canada and elsewhere proved inconclusive, at best. Or one might look at the official site for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, and see who is listed under its caption: “Attracting the Best and the Brightest”.
There are 16 young people, most likely foreign students. Two thirds of them are male and they appear to be from Asia, etc. Central in their midst, is a White man. Paternal. None of these students is Black.
By comparison, the other piece of information above on the performance of Black students in the U.S. who were born in Africa and their stellar performances in physics to astronomy to economics to lexicology to linguistics…is not as widely known. Nor as positively branded by any government official site.
In fact, the information comes from a body with the acronym of JSTOR. This is no fly-by-night operation. Pronounced, jay-stor, JSTOR is short for Journal Storage, a digital library founded in 1995. Originally containing digitized back issues of academic journals, it now also includes books and primary sources, and as well, current issues of journals. The complete archive collections on JSTOR, include more than 1,600 academic journals, primary source documents and other works.
JSTOR thereby provides full-text searches of almost 2,000 journals, academic and otherwise. More than 8,000 institutions in more than 160 countries contribute, and have access to JSTOR. Included among these institutions are Princeton University Press, the New York Times, The Royal Society of London, the Japanese Historical Text Initiative, the United States Attorney’s Office, et al. Spanning several continents, most access to JSTOR material for research or casual perusal is by subscription. However, some older public domain content is freely available to anyone.
In 2012, JSTOR went further when it launched a program providing limited no-cost access to old articles for individual scholars and researchers who register on their website.
If this type of information is freely available from and in these prestigious journals, institutions etc., why is it not also part of the branding of Black students in the public consciousness? What, too, are the educational and cultural implications for African students in particular vis-a-vis their counterparts, generally from the Caribbean and those born in countries as Canada, the UK and America?
Several years ago, Dr. Odida Quamina reflected on the changes academically that affected the generation of Caribbean students who were our children. What was to be compared were our desire and determination; the hunger and thirsting with which we arrived in Canada seeking knowledge; and creating spaces for our advancement and as well for the advances of other immigrant cultures.
On that occasion, it was pointed out that ours was the only community in Canada whose children had a lower level of education than their parents.
The Toronto-based Dr. Quamina, one of the youngest academics in his time to earn a doctorate at York University, summing it up asked – as to what might be the cause for the failure of our youth – with a sense of metaphor and ironic humour, “Was it something in the milk?”
Whatever it was that flowed from the educational milk being fed Black Canadian youth, it has, for its subsequent effects, turned out, metaphorically speaking, to be more Kool-Aid than milk!
On the issue of the racialized and codified term, “Black on Black violence”, it is necessary to re-state the fact that while this has significant impact on the public perceptions negatively ascribed to Black communities and individuals, regardless of innocence or guilt, it must be challenged; challenged first for the negative stereotype and branding imposed on Black communities; a branding, running the spectrum of educational expectations as being capable in Phys. Ed. but not in Physics; as being athletes or thugs.
Sometimes, even describing such situations can force a sensitive soul into avoiding such communal issues and for others, carry a sense of futility; a sense that this is the way the world is and this is the way the world will remain: that Black communities, generally poor, will so remain and their youth in and out of school will not only be unemployed but be also unemployable; be potentially to be positioned in line-ups for the police and the prison warden.
And is our communal value to the collective good not that of citizen, but that of consumer?