32,500,000 Word Gap Let's Close It, The Blackman Who Reads Aloud
I remember once talking to my friend and noted educator, Annena McCluskey about the learning gaps that are prevalent in many brown and black babies as they enter school. Annena was a not only a dynamic educator but she was an outstanding trainer of classroom teachers. She always discussed in her training sessions the mental luggage bag of young learners entering their formal education experience. It was her contention that many of our young brown and black babies enter school with collapsed luggage bags. Their learning luggage bags were missing so much of the word exposure necessary to form that solid foundation necessary to be proficient readers by the age of 8 or 9-years-old.
It almost like being on a track competing in a race and allowing the other competitors a three-quarter mile start in a mile long race. However, this race doesn’t involve the ability to run it involves the ability to master the unique skill of reading. So many of our brown and black babies never get off the starting line to secure those elements of becoming strategic comprehensive readers. The learning suitcases damaged from birth to age four never get to be fully packed. So, these brown and black babies are almost doomed from the very start of each of their learning experiences.
As it happens, in the ’80s, the psychologists Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley spent years cataloguing the number of words spoken to young children in dozens of families from different socioeconomic groups, and what they found was not only a disparity in the complexity of words used but also astonishing differences in sheer number. Children of professionals were, on average, exposed to approximately 1,500 more words hourly than children growing up in poverty. This resulted in a gap of more than 32 million words by the time the children reached the age of 4.
Can you imagine the magnitude of having a 32 million word gap in word exposure? That is one of the primary reasons why so many of our babies become illiterate adults. We need to form a union, a band, a majestic circle of black men who become dedicated to the cause of filling the suitcases of our brown and black babies with word exposure by simply becoming “A Blackman Who Reads Aloud”. Rather than allowing our babies to seat in front of a television screen. Take those precious moments of learning outside the traditional classroom to read aloud to those brown and black babies for 15-20 minutes a day. The key is becoming proficient enough in reading yourself to read aloud to others.
The goal of “The Blackman’s Read Aloud Hour National Podcast” will be to develop “Blackman Who Read Aloud” across this country. We must present, expose, and engage our babies and young adults to understand the vital role literacy will play in their lives as they prosper and progress. We need our communities to build technologically advanced classrooms, not housing facilities filled with cold steel locked cells for our brown and black babies. So please donate to the cause of illuminating the pervasive issue of black illiteracy in our communities. Once this issue is spotlighted we as union, band, and circle of majestic black men reading aloud to douse the flame with some real "word power."