This past weekend I spent time with my niece in celebration of her ninth birthday! It was great to be in the midst of young children in my family with all their wonder and innocence. On another hand, it was also tiresome answering all of their questions all day! While I am mostly joking, this day full of kids reminded me of an article I once read. The main thesis of the article was that African-American youth are less likely to ask questions in schools than Caucasian youth. Reason being, the former group is discouraged from asking questions in the home life whereas the latter group encourages inquisitive nature. Keeping this in mind, I wonder if and where this similar sentiment is seen in other arenas dealing with youth. My first thoughts surprisingly led me to church and home, the main social institutions present in a black youth’s life.
From my experience in several different Black churches from Methodist to Non-denominational, there is God and there is a preacher anointed by God who preaches the word of God. As a youth, your only obligation and in this case allowance is to listen to and heed the word as it is delivered. Now this is not to say that questions are shunned, that depends on your church, but there certainly is no open forum with a Q & A. In age where our youth are being faced with social disarray not experienced by elders it becomes difficult for youth to listen and buy-in wholesale to a word that goes without explanation. Abstract ideas of faith, hope, and glory fall on deaf ears without dialogue.
In the home several factors make sense of the lack of questioning entertained by African-American families of whom are in lower socio-economic standing. Low levels of social supports paired with high levels of social obligation are a perfect recipe for stress and stretched attention. However, questioning is vital not only to emotional development but academic achievement so this lack of affirmation and conversation inhibits performance in school.
Thus, we have black youth who have stifled psyches that are being given respect for elders wisdom and the gospill as the only remedies yet are expected to transition a generation into college success and moral uprightness.