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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Sept. 9, 1999)
Lack of identity
hurts black men,
Mentors needed for advice, guidance
By Derek Lippincott
Young black boys need a dream, and
they need people to believe in it
But in a society where black males
have picked up negative stereotypes,
this is an increasingly difficult task.
This was one of the messages given
by Joseph White, professor emeritus at
the University of California, Irvine, on
Wednesday when he spoke of the psy
chological challenges facing black
About 150 people attended the lec
ture at die Nebraska Union.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
professor and chairman of psychology
John Berman introduced White as “a
legend in the field of African-American
And White is from Lincoln - “I’m
a homeboy,” White said as he began
vYimc sucsseu me negative aspects
of stereotypes given to black males in
America. Black people make up 12 per
cent of the population in America and 50
percent of the population in American
prisons. Facts such as these, White said,
give the black population a bad rap.
However, behind the curtains and
left out of gangster movie scenes, White
said, is the ordinary black man.
“These are the guys you never see,”
White said. “They pay their rent. They
pay their bills. But they don’t make
movies about these brothers. These
brothers are the invisible ones.”
Struggles to avoid the bad stereo
types and attempts to be recognized as
an ordinary man, White said, involve
identity and intimacy.
“What we mean by identity in psy
chology is, ‘What is your dream?’”
White said. “Every 13-to-14-year-old
black male has a dream.”
Intimacy, White said, is establishing
and maintaining close relationships
throughout the life cycle and with peo
ple who will believe in the boy’s dream.
“The closest relationships through
out the black male’s life cycle are the
peers,” White said. “They have a com
We have to set a u
standard of excellence
and a standard of
University of California
mon experience base. They are all
black, American males.”
White stressed that peers can pro
vide either a positive or negative influ
White also stressed that black males
need a mentor in their lives who guides
them and believes in them.
“If the mentor believes in the young
man’s dream, the young man will ulti
mately believe in himself,” White said.
White used the story of Malcolm X
as an example. Malcolm X had a dream
that nobody believed in. It eventually
deteriorated, and he went to jail. In
prison Malcolm X found a mentor and
he turned his life around, he said.
Concluding his speech with a pas
sage from his book, “The Black Man
Emerging: Facing the Past and Seizing a
Future in America,” White told the
crowd what the black community need
ed to accomplish.
The hardest thing for people to do
is separate blame from responsibility,”
White said. “We have to set a standard
of excellence and a standard of respon
“We need to start trying to be for
real,” White said. “You have to be real.
You have to be down, or the children
won’t relate to you.”
Lonnie Michael, a junior business
major, said the speech conveyed posi
tive aspects of black society as well as
gave him communication tips.
“(White’s speech) gave us a lot of
interesting ideas about communicat
ing,” Michael said.
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