Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life

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Overview

As seen on PBS’s POV

An unprecedented guide to helping black boys achieve success at every stage of their lives—at home, at school, and in the world
 
Regardless of how wealthy or poor their parents are, all black boys must confront and surmount the “achievement gap”: a divide that shows up not only in our sons’ test scores, but in ...

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Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life

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Overview

As seen on PBS’s POV

An unprecedented guide to helping black boys achieve success at every stage of their lives—at home, at school, and in the world
 
Regardless of how wealthy or poor their parents are, all black boys must confront and surmount the “achievement gap”: a divide that shows up not only in our sons’ test scores, but in their social and emotional development, their physical well-being, and their outlook on life. As children, they score as high on cognitive tests as their peers, but at some point, the gap emerges. Why?
 
This is the question Joe Brewster, M.D., and Michèle Stephenson asked when their own son, Idris, began struggling in a new school. As they filmed his experiences for their award-winning documentary American Promise, they met an array of researchers who had not only identified the reasons for the gap, but had come up with practical, innovative solutions to close it. In Promises Kept, they explain
 
• how to influence your son’s brain before he’s even born
• how to tell the difference between authoritarian and authoritative discipline—and why it matters
• how to create an educational program for your son that matches his needs
• how to prepare him for explicit and implicit racism in school and in the wider world
• how to help your child develop resilience, self-discipline, emotional intelligence, and a positive outlook that will last a lifetime
 
Filled with innovative research, practical strategies, and the voices of parents and children who are grappling with these issues firsthand, Promises Kept will challenge your assumptions and inspire you to make sure your child isn’t lost in the gap.

Praise for Promises Kept
 
“The authors offer a plethora of information and advice geared toward the specific developmental needs of black boys. . . . Thorough and detailed, this guidebook is also a call to action. As Brewster sees it, when people of color remain complacent, they not only break a tacit promise to future generations to achieve social equity, they also imperil the futures of both the nation and the planet. A practical and impassioned parenting guide.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“A penetrating look at the standard practices, at school and at home, that contribute to the achievement gap between the races and the sexes that seems to put black boys at a disadvantage. [Brewster and Stephenson] debunk myths and offer ten parenting and education strategies to improve the prospects for black boys to help them overcome racial stereotypes and low expectations. . . . This is a practical and insightful look at the particular challenges of raising black males.”Booklist

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

The Black male achievement gap is real: They are nearly twice as likely to drop out of high school as their white counterparts; twice as likely to be held back in elementary school; three times as likely to be suspended from school; and half as likely as white male students to graduate college in four years. That crisis even touched the lives of the Ivy League trained psychiatrist and lawyer couple who wrote this book. Their response to their own son's problems inspired them to construct guidelines for parents, teachers, and others concerned with a human problem that can resolved. Editor's recommendation.

From the Publisher
“The authors offer a plethora of information and advice geared toward the specific developmental needs of black boys. . . . Thorough and detailed, this guidebook is also a call to action. As Brewster sees it, when people of color remain complacent, they not only break a tacit promise to future generations to achieve social equity, they also imperil the futures of both the nation and the planet. A practical and impassioned parenting guide.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“A penetrating look at the standard practices, at school and at home, that contribute to the achievement gap between the races and the sexes that seems to put black boys at a disadvantage. [Brewster and Stephenson] debunk myths and offer ten parenting and education strategies to improve the prospects for black boys to help them overcome racial stereotypes and low expectations. . . . This is a practical and insightful look at the particular challenges of raising black males.”Booklist
Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-25
With the assistance of Beard (Health First!: The Black Woman's Wellness Guide, 2012, etc.), independent filmmakers Brewster and Stephenson examine concrete ways black parents can enhance their sons' potential for success in a world prejudiced against black males. Seeking to give their son, Idris, the education that would help the youngster "bypass racism and achieve his human potential," Brewster and his wife, Stephenson, enrolled him at the prestigious Dalton School in Manhattan. It quickly became evident that however progressive Dalton proclaimed to be, the school was as elitist as it was racially biased. Written as a response to the "struggles, tears and frustration" their son faced, this book is also a companion to American Promise, an acclaimed 2013 documentary Brewster and his wife made about Idris' Dalton experiences, as well as those of his fellow students of color. The authors offer a plethora of information and advice geared toward the specific developmental needs of black boys. For Brewster and Stephenson, preparation begins before birth and includes everything from taking parenting classes to eating only the most nutritious foods. Once the child is born, the parents must work to establish secure emotional attachments with their son and develop his higher brain functions through consistent and conscientious verbal engagement. Once the child is older, they must not only protect him from the traps of excessive media consumption and drugs; they must also warn him about "overreactive teachers, principals and police officers" by having honest conversations about race and racial injustice. Their involvement should also extend into schools and classrooms, where low expectations for black males breed failure. Thorough and detailed, this guidebook is also a call to action. As Brewster sees it, when people of color remain complacent, they not only break a tacit promise to future generations to achieve social equity, they also imperil the futures of both the nation and the planet. A practical and impassioned parenting guide.
Library Journal
The black male achievement gap is a real problem even for successful parents like Harvard-trained psychiatrist Brewster and Columbia Law School graduate Stephenson, who became concerned when their son, Idris, began slipping behind at his private New York school. Both a wake-up call and a practical guide, this book is companion to the authors' documentary film, which will be airing on PBS's POV. Pushed back from October 2013; important.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812984897
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/14/2014
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 103,040
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Joe Brewster, M.D., and Michèle Stephenson are the directors of the award-winning documentary American Promise. Brewster is an attending psychiatrist at Harlem Hospital in New York and an assistant clinical professor at Columbia University. He was raised in Los Angeles and studied medicine at Harvard University. Stephenson has worked as an international human rights lawyer and a film producer. She is a graduate of Columbia Law School.
 
Hilary Beard is the co-author of several books, including the New York Times bestsellers 21 Pounds in 21 Days: The Martha’s Vineyard Diet Detox and Venus & Serena: Serving from the Hip.

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