Brother to Brother: Education, Mentorship and Men of Color

By Kate Adler, Director of Library Services

On behalf of the library, I’d like to announce a new conversation and special collection. Both address one of the most striking and significant issues facing our college community and our nation: the profound inequity of education and educational attainment facing men of color. Michael Goodwin, adjunct professor at MCNY, is passionate about this issue. He recently hosted Collegiate Men of Color: Changing the Narrative of Men in Higher Edcuation a discussion with Black and Latino men with successful careers in higher education.  

Following this event, Professor Goodwin spoke with our very own Gregg Lewis on the subject. You can view their discussion here and read their reflections below. As Gregg points out below, the lack of role models for men of color in education requires action; we need more representation, mentoring, group work. Taking our cue from this insight, the library is founding a special collection: “Brother to Brother” devoted to men of color, education, and mentorship.

We will also be hosting a roundtable, moderated by Professor Goodwin in the fall. The conversation will continue in these last weeks of the semester. To be a part of it as a Black or Latino male student or alumni, email Prof. Goodwin at

More to come. Thank you to Gregg and to Michael. 

Men of Color and the Higher Education Initiative               

By Gregg Lewis, Library Assistant

I was never encouraged to attend college. In my era we were taught that getting a well-paying job, (MTA, post office, police, corrections and sanitation) being able to take care of your responsibility,  i.e. family were far more important than attending college. Hard work would take you far. While the motto still applies, it takes a lot more than just hard work today; in this computerized/digital environment a better education is a must. 

But there is a need for teachers, mentors, group work to make this happen. Men of color lack role models. I was hard-pressed to find men or women of color in teaching positions throughout school until I got to college. Trust is hard when you don’t see you there is nothing for you to emulate. We are already not being taught anything about us except slavery, and role models are very important to an already discouraged student. 

The Disparities between Men of Color and Others in Higher Education 

By Professor Michael Goodwin, MPA  

The disparities in the college graduation rate between men of color and other male ethnicities are quite alarming and disturbing. The variance has been in existence for a long time and outside of the HBCUs, there is not a strong initiative to lessen the margin.  

According to the National Center for Education Statistics:  33% of Black males graduated with an associate degree and 34% graduated with a bachelors in 2015-2016 which is the lowest of all ethnicities. During the same time frame, 38% of Hispanic males graduated with an associate degree while 40% earned bachelors. However, White males reached 40% and 44% and Asian males top the list at 44% and 46% 

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019) 

Additionally, Black male students pursuing bachelor’s degrees were the most likely among any demographic group to drop out after their freshman year (Brown, 2019). 

A collection of factors contributes to the low number of enrollment and completions for Black and Latino Males. As is evident in the numbers, there is an outcry for more incentives, resources, guidance and support to change this narrative.   

Another major concern is the lack of Black and Brown male representation in higher education faculty and senior administration. I didn’t have a Black male instructor until I reached college.  Currently, there are nationwide initiatives in place to increase the presence of Black and Brown Male instructors in K-12 schools.  

However, these types of initiatives are absent as there is a need to increase Black and Latino male instructors in higher education. Of all full-time faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in fall 2018, some 40% were White males; 35% were White females; 7% were Asian/Pacific Islander males; and 3% were Black males, Black females, Hispanic males, and Hispanic females (Race/ethnicity of college faculty, 2018). 

A strategy to lessen the disparities in enrollment and graduation rate amongst Black and Latino males in higher education is to form support groups amongst ourselves. The challenge here is our willingness to confess we need assistance and request guidance We as a culture have been reared to believe that asking for help, especially from another male is interpreted as a sign of weakness and leaves us vulnerable. Joining to assist, encourage and empower each other to engage and persist is a critical component. Higher Ed. institutions need to create a forum and/or platform for Black and Latino male higher ed graduates/alumni to meet with current students, current students to collaborate and work together as they press forward on their academic journey. 

MCNY will be creating just such a forum and platform, bringing together Black and Latino male alumni and current students in conversation throughout the coming academic year. We will begin with a small group discussion this semester. Whether you are a current student or alumni, email me at to be a part of laying the foundation for this new initiative.