I Am the 4 Percent

by Anton Conkle | February 9, 2012 1:26 am

My upbringing wasn’t the most stable of environments.  I bounced around a lot, often to less than glamorous neighborhoods.  My family wasn’t a traditional, nuclear or even agreeable one at times.  And many of my childhood friends have gone down unfortunate paths. 

Yet, despite all of this, I graduated from a prestigious high school in Cleveland, Ohio with honors.  Just last year, I graduated from 

The Ohio State University with a degree in Economics.  This makes me, (formerly), part of the 4% of college students who are black males.
Statistically speaking, black males lag behind all other demographics in terms of high school graduation and college enrollment and graduation. In a new study conducted by Dr. Shaun Harper, the University of Pennsylvania professor analyzes and seeks to explain this disturbing reality.  He interviewed and focused on several high achieving, black male students.  In a world that often depicts black men as “as lazy, unmotivated, underprepared for college, intellectually incompetent, and disengaged,” these students debunked the stereotype. Each proved that, given the proper education, attention, resources and family support, everyone, despite race or gender, can achieve great things.This hits home for me. Despite my upbringing, my mother, grandmother, aunts and uncles played an important factor in my academic achievement. They all wanted me to do something that they didn’t do. As a result, I was the first person in my generation, (and second ever in my family) to graduate from college.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama said “a great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance.”

The President’s statement describes me. I aim to be an example for the discouraged and downtrodden to follow. No matter the obstacles, follow your dreams. It may not always be easy, but stick with it. The things you want the most are always worth fighting for. As my grandmother always says: “Nothing beats a failure but a try.”


Related Articles

Trump’s New Attack on Medicaid Could Harm Millions

  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Domenica Ghanem, [email protected], 202 339 9310   Trump’s New Attack on Medicaid Could Harm Millions…

Our Own Table

50 Anniversary Video Preview

Going Against the Healthcare Insanity of the GOP Was the Only Option Out There

This article originally appeared on Latino Rebels. Is there a more fitting metaphor for the plight of our current political…

Double Standard, Double Spacing

This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post. Late in April, approximately 1,000 students in the Upward Bound Program at…

The Revolution Will Be Blogged: Fostering Youth Activism Through Online Writing

This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post. In an era of polarized politics, heightened activism, and the rise of…