Like Jackson said, our Black boys have been through a lot. Every day, they deal with the mental, physical, and socioeconomic burdens of systemic racism and discrimination. Some of our Black boys experience poverty and food & housing insecurity. Many have witnessed violence in their communities. All of them carry the heavy weight of what society says about them.
“Historically, Black male bodies have been a target or seen as a threat or as something other than who they are,” Thompkins said, “I’ve heard teachers, admin, and even clinicians using labels and language that painted children from communities that I come from or from people who look like me as though they were deviant, thug, and criminals before they had even finished graduating from high school.”
Our Black boys continue to bring brilliance, innovation, and joy into our spaces despite all of these obstacles that they face. However, their invisible struggle with mental health has often remained unseen and unaddressed.
The stigma and inaccesibility of mental healthcare for the Black community, especially for men, makes it difficult for our boys to develop healthy coping skills and find much-needed community support to take care of their mental health.
“It is telling in our current status right now as a community just how much our Black men and our Black boys need the additional support and safe space,” Thompkins said.
At Noble, we’ve seen how this is impacting our boys. We’ve seen it in their grades, in their actions, and in their disengagement with school. We knew that addressing mental health was an essential part of our mission to improve the school experience for our Black boys.
“I just want our scholars to have strong strategies to cope and resources,” Jackson said, “I’m hoping that Noble as an organization will continue to have resources and bring supports to the school. And not only just bring supports, but that our scholars will want to take advantage of those support systems. And that, over time, we see better outcomes for our Black students both in GPA, in culture, and relationship building. That’s my main goal and focus.”
Noble Schools was grateful to be able to connect with Thompkins and The CornerStore to bring in some of those strong supports – and hopefully ones that will continue to grow at our campuses.