Black History Month spotlight: U of T Professor Lance McCready

McCready says high school guidance counselling needs to be overhauled and more supports put in place to help black male students finish high school and enroll in post-secondary education
photo of Lance McCready

During Black History Month, U of T's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education is spotlighting several professors whose research has focused on race, equity and education. 

We start with OISE Professor Lance McCready.

McCready’s research focuses on the health, education and well-being of young black men. His most recent work looks at the educational trajectories of young black men in Canadian urban centres, and programs and services for ethnic and racial minority males who are underrepresented in North American colleges and universities. 
McCready is also co-chair of the Black Gay Research Group, collaborator and consultant to the Black Daddies Club and Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention, and co-chair of the Black Student Recruitment and Success Group within the University of Toronto’s new Black Faculty Working Group. 

U of T's Lindsey Craig talked with McCready about his research into the challenges facing young black men.

What are some of the unique challenges that black students face in Canada?

My research focuses on the health and education of young black men in urban environments. Some of the challenges facing black male youth in high school, particularly those who are second and third generation Canadians, are low expectations, stigmatization, physical and mental violence rooted in socio-historical constructions of black masculinity and systemic oppression. 

How can some of these challenges be addressed? 

Mandatory anti-racism training is crucial but also greater attention to personalization and one-on-one support. Along these lines, high school guidance counselling needs to be overhauled.

Additionally, community organizations, college and university administrations can play a more integral role through partnerships and collaborations in helping black male students finish high school and enroll in post-secondary education.

Several reports indicate that black students and their families, generally, are not satisfied with the types and level of support they are given for post-secondary access. Post-secondary education is necessary in today's society because it provides a foundation for well-being, good jobs and careers rather than precarious ones.

What’s one way educators can help foster the success of black male students? 

Encourage black male students to pursue post-secondary education if possible rather than follow a direct path from secondary school to full-time, precarious, low-wage work. Educate yourself about systemic barriers, sociohistorical constructions of black masculinity and gender relations, and personal obstacles facing black male students.

This kind of learning builds educators' capacity to work more closely with black male students who need personalized assistance on how to navigate systemic barriers and personal obstacles that get in the way of pursuing post-secondary education.

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