Sy Stokes and Black Male UCLA Bruins Take A Stand

College admissions have always been a tenuous process. When that process involves race and ethnicity, people become divided, temperatures rise and questions are raised.

In the case of UCLA (University of California – Los Angeles), Sy Stokes has brought national attention to the dearth of black males on campus. He brings up the statistic that black males make up only 3.3 percent of the male population at UCLA, of whom 65 percent are athletes. Stokes also addresses the fact that UCLA has made cuts to financial aid in recent years, but that hasn’t stopped the university from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on flights and hotel suites.

While some may take issue with the video and say, “well why don’t more black males just work harder and get better grades,” the matter isn’t that simple. Poor and failing schools, a shortage of resources, and in some cases a lack of quality teachers, too often occurs in black and brown neighborhoods. If these students don’t have access to supplemental help through the form of strong support systems or tutoring, many will fall through the cracks. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the issue of financial aid.

The lack of diversity at UCLA reminds me of my college experience to a certain extent. My campus wasn’t particularly diverse, but it has improved in recent years. I remember a number of times being mistaken for an athlete (this is the main reason why I never brought any football or basketball t-shirts from the bookstore). Because there were so few black men on campus, many people naturally assumed you were only there because you were a member of a team. I’m sure the guys at UCLA must get this all the time and are probably tired of it, I know I was. Credit to them for taking a stand and making their presence known.

More Diversity for a Better Bottom Line?

According to a UCLA study released last month, television programs with more diversity tended to get higher ratings than those with more homogeneous casts and writers. Diversity is apparently good business.

Among some of the findings in the study was that shows in which minorities made up 31 to 40 percent of the cast members tended to do better with viewers, and shows with a higher percentage of minority writers benefited from increased ratings as well. Ultimately what does this mean? In essence I think studies like this show not only how we as a society are becoming more diverse, but that people want to see characters who look like them and share similar experiences as themselves. Considering the lack of diversity in television, it would behoove the producers and network honchos who greenlight these shows to really take a look at the members of their casts and the talent writing for these shows. You can check out the article here.