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Study: Black Men Have A Uniquely Powerful View of What Constitutes True Genius

news-teachers-1Professors at Texas A&M conducted a study called “Can You See Me Now,” a project that found that Black men view genius as a fusion of skills that an aptitude test simply cannot measure.

“The education system and the prison system are in competition for their souls,” professor of urban education, Marlon James, said in a poignant commentary.

James and his peers in the field asked dozens of young Black men from various backgrounds and upbringings about their thoughts on educational attainment in spite of social barriers and limited job growth potential.

The results showed that the men aspire to what James calls “S.P.A.R.K.” — “five intellectual, personal and physical qualities that demonstrate an ability to combine two contradicting values.”

S = Spirituality vs. Social Justice

James said on the Texas A&M website that many young Black men are not only resistant to societal urges, but they are indeed motivated by their religious or moral beliefs to impact society for the better. “There is no contradiction between who they feel God tells them they are and how they ought to treat other people and how they arrange their lifework,” James said.

P = Professional vs. Personal

The men have a “relative morality,” James said, meaning they can mesh personal and professional situations with ease. They are able to blend the two identities without insecurities about who they are. “I am who I am here,” James says. “I don’t put on ‘fronts’ here. I’m the same person at home with my kids. I’m the same person in church. I’m the same person while playing basketball with my friends. I have the same value system. I am who I am.”

A = Artistic vs. Academic

“He’s at his best academically when he’s drawing and creating,” James said. “His math scores go up. His reading scores go up. I call it ‘dimensional learning.’ When he draws, creates computer graphics and then builds a website – all about the same stuff he’s reading about in school – he’s unstoppable. I’ve never seen anything like it! That is actually a form of genius. I believe that we can cultivate this in more and more young men.”

R = Resilient vs. Reformers

The past does not hold back these men, the study indicated. “They’re resilient individuals. They overcame. They continue to overcome but at the same time it’s not about them. As reformers, they dedicate their work and their life to uplifting the human condition – to help their community, to help people struggling, to help people suffering.”

K = Kinetic vs. Knowledge

Many adolescents, James said, deal with the pressure of being either a “jock” or a “bookworm,” but young men who strive to achieve resist being labeled or put into one of the two stereotypes. Instead, he says, they strive for intellectual and physical stimulation in their lives. “Think of Richard Sherman, cornerback for the NFL champion Seattle Seahawks,” says James. “Brash, tall brother, dreads. Graduate of Stanford University. Brilliant – all while being the best defensive player in the league. I think there’s more people out there like that than we know.”

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