The UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity hosted an event Thursday, March 20, that included a lecture by Dr. Ivory A. Toldson, deputy director for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and a viewing of the film, “American Promise.”
Toldson’s presentation focused on how leaders in education should approach teaching students from diverse backgrounds especially young black men.
“If I want black males to succeed, I’m going to look at successful black males,” he said.
Though Toldson is a celebrated senior research analyst, he said utilizing statistics as the only indicator of student success is a flawed method.
“We have to be in a position where we are not dependent upon the gap research; where we can look at these young black males, young black people, or any group, and look within and see what separates the ones who are doing it right and the ones who need help.”
After the lecture, attendees viewed the 2013 Sundance Film Festival award-winning film, “American Promise.”
The film followed the lives of two young boys over the course of 12 years as they attend Dalton School, a prestigious private school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
At one point, Idris struggles with his racial identity in a conversation with his parents and later Seun struggles with a family crisis while trying to keep up with his school assignments.
The audience experienced the wavering emotions of the boys and their families as they tried to adjust to their school, experience drastic changes in their family life, and deal with society’s perception of them as black males.
Perhaps one of the points in Toldson’s lecture addresses this question, at least from an educational perspective.
“Instead of presenting data that says white males are doing this and black males are doing this… compare within the race; because the paths are really different,” said Toldson.
“Look beyond the numbers. Look beyond the test and see the test taker.”
To see how UALR is committed to the success of undeserved students, go to Student Services Success Initiatives.