University of Chicago symposium focuses on how to better support black male adolescents

February 13, 2014

Flickr/Lucy Gray
File: Students at a University of Chicago Charter School.

University of Chicago professor Waldo Johnson says too many black boys are being robbed of their boyhood.

“Even when they engage sometimes in antisocial behavior, there’s some clear evidence that the way in which corrective measures are applied to them tend to, in some instances, be far more harsh,” Johnson said.

Johnson is referring to school suspensions. Chicago Public Schools has come under fire for its zero-tolerance policies. Just this week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the head of CPS said they want to change how discipline looks in classrooms.

U of C is hosting “Black Young Men in America: Rising above Social and Racial Prejudice, Trauma, and Educational Disparities,” a symposium to be held Saturday at the Hyde Park campus.

The symposium will center around research and developing strategies to support black male adolescents. Educators, social workers and youth service providers will be in attendance. Panelists will also focus on to how communicate and build relationships with this population. They include Nia Abdullah and Elizabeth Kirby of CPS, Marshaun Bacon of Becoming a Man and Monico Whittington-Eskridge of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

This week President Barack Obama was scheduled to announce a new program to help young minority men;the weather postponed the unveiling.

“I’m optimistic, as this particular initiative develops, that it will develop in ways that will allow for some flexibility to recognize that we’re not talking about a monolithic group. There’s a lot of differences among African American males,” Johnson said.

The symposium is Feb. 15 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, 969 E. 60th St.

is a WBEZ reporter. nmoore@wbez.org Follow Natalie on Google+,  Twitter