By MICA WILHITE
Jefferson native, Dr. Fred Bonner, says a community should view academically gifted black males from an asset perspective rather than from a deficit perspective.
His 2015 book, Building on Resilience: Models and Frameworks of Black Male Success Across the P-20 Pipeline, addresses ways to “fix the leaky educational pipeline into a conduit of success for black males,” providing the focus for tonight’s lecture at the Jefferson Historical Museum.
“One of the things that I want to ensure is that if you’re going to work with these black males, so many times we have started out from a deficit based perspective. Black males are not successful. They’re not pulling their pants up. They’re not, they’re not, they’re not achieving. We have heard about the ‘nots’ for so long, many of us have forgotten, if we ever knew, some black males are out there that we don’t have to look at the deficits, we can look at the assets,” Bonner said in an interview with the Jimplecute last week.
While Bonner was prompted to tackle this book because statistics showed only 10% of black males in the US are proficient in 8th-grade reading and only 52% graduate from high school within four years, he opted for an asset rather than a deficit perspective.
For his research, Bonner wanted to “come from what’s called an asset perspective. An asset model. The deficit model talks about the nots, the nots, the nots. An asset model talks about the achievement and the success.”
After all, as he points out in the book when the “process of identity construction begins from a place of deficits, it’s extremely difficult to change the course of the tide that has gained momentum flowing in that direction.”
A scientist at Prairie View A&M, Bonner heads the Minority Achievement, Creativity, and High-Ability Center (MACH-III) on campus, where the mission is to produce cutting-edge best practices and scholarship that address contemporary issues impacting critical populations. Ultimately, the aim is to prove that “good scholarship” and academic achievement is not reliant on attending elite, predominantly white institutions.
“You don’t have to settle for less. You can be the smartest person there in the room. Your maleness, your racial identity, none of that stops you.”
Bonner’s book showcases concepts that relate to the “real world” whether dealing with black males in general, in the classroom, or on gifted black male athletes.
His Academically Gifted Black Male Engagement (AGBME) model, served as one of the cornerstones of the report that went out for the state of Texas looking at black and brown male success.
“I was really, really proud of that and that is something that MACH-III is really, really proud of that we are serving such a central focus in this report that’s actually on its way to the Governor’s office right now.”
A researcher in Bonner’s book, Dr. Donna Ford, also addresses “the achievement gap.”
“Well, it’s more than just an achievement gap, it’s a technology gap. It’s a resource gap. It’s an education gap and on, and on, and on.” I want to be able to talk about chapters like that and put it in very, very practical terms. So parents, community members, teachers in the classroom, when you take this book off the shelf, if you use some of the material, here is the clear and concise message that really resonates at the very, very basic level in the classroom.”
On Feb. 23, Bonner will be the honoree for the Men on a Mission Leadership and Mentoring Banquet in Galveston, Texas.
“It means a lot to me to be recognized by my peers and other African American males, particularly those interested in this type of research. “It encourages me to dig deeper and to work harder.”
Bonner, who was born and raised in Jefferson holds degrees from the University of North Texas, Baylor University and the University of Arkansas. In his freshman and sophomore years at North Texas, he won the coveted Intercultural Services Award for the African American/Hispanic student with the highest grade point average (GPA).
Bonner is the guest lecturer at the Jefferson Historical Museum tonight just before the start of Martin Luther King weekend. Tonight’s event starts at 6 P.M.
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