Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Real Role Models profiled in UT blog

“Real Role Models”: The lesser known celebrities
by Marjorie Simoens
Published: March 1

NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said it blatantly: “I am not a role model.”

But how is that so?

Barkley had a successful career in basketball, had the fame to follow, and the money to show for it. How do these things not equate to a role model?

According to the book “Real Role Models: Successful African Americans Beyond Pop Culture” by Joah Spearman, alumnus of the university, and Dr. Louis Harrison Jr., associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, young African Americans need positive and real role models beyond famous celebrities and athletes

Read the rest here.

Real Role Models in the NY Times

Searching for Role Models
Feb. 8, 2010

When Alabama’s Mark Ingram won the Heisman Trophy he made sure to mention his father, Mark Ingram Sr., a former N.F.L. receiver who was an important member of the Giants’ 1991 Super Bowl victory and a role model to him.

However, Mark Ingram Sr. spent his son’s Heisman year in prison after being sentenced to seven years for bank fraud and money laundering charges. Even still, the elder Ingram tries to remain a positive force in his son’s life (the two speak on the phone regularly) by telling him not to make the same mistakes he did. Is that what a role model should encourage?

February is Black History Month, which leads me to an important question: what kind of role models should student-athletes have? I once heard a professor say, “while striving to achieve hoop dreams, many young black children are having academic nightmares.” Dr. Louis Harrison Jr., an African-American studies professor at the University of Texas, is the man behind that line and this month, “Real Role Models,” a book I co-authored with him, addresses this important issue.

Read the rest here @

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Joah Spearman Inteview on KUT (Austin's NPR affiliate)

"Many young people – perhaps many young African Americans – may have looked to him as a role model. It’s not unusual to single out the rich, famous, and talented as role models. But that can leave out a lot of qualities. Austin authors Joah Spearman and Louis Harrison, Jr. have written a book profiling the not-so-rich-and-famous. But African Americans who they say make good role models by virtue of their character, hard work, and emphasis on education – not necessarily their fame. Joah Spearman and Louis Harrison, Jr. are the authors of Real Role Models: Successful African Americans Beyond Pop Culture." Listen to the segment here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Examiner says...

"In this day and age, with absurd role models like Paris Hilton and ultimately disappointing role models like Tiger Woods, young people need to have real role models in their lives..."

Read on here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Real Role Models in The Advocate

Keeping It Real
Jan. 16, 2010
Pro athletes have influence on youngsters

* Advocate Opinion page staff
* Published: Jan 16, 2010 - Page: 9B

Former NBA and former Auburn star Charles Barkley was quoted several years ago as saying, “I am not a role model.” He has been called many things over the years, but role model is not one of them.

Barkley has admitted having trouble with alcohol, gambling and his weight, while also being outspoken and critical about politics, sports and other topics that interest him.

I admire Barkley for his candor and his ability to laugh at himself. But being a role model to children — as many professional athletes, coaches, teachers, law enforcement authorities, celebrities (actors and artists) and politicians are — is no laughing matter.

However, holding up professional athletes as role models is particularly problematic as revelations surface about steroid use among former MLB players (Mark McGwire), former NFL players (Dana Stubblefield) and former track athletes (Marion Jones).

The public’s patience, confidence and willingness to forgive and forget transgressions and give athletes another chance also are eroded amid reports of infidelity among golfers (Tiger Woods); NBA (Gilbert Arenas) and NFL players (Plaxico Burress) packing weapons “for protection” and players in both leagues continuing to violate the leagues’ substance abuse and personal conduct policies.

Children see the games and commercials on TV and the Internet and/or listen to them on the radio. They urge their parents to buy the $100-plus jerseys, uniforms, shoes and equipment. They spend countless hours on the playgrounds, fields and courts and in the weight room trying to get “faster, higher and stronger” so they can “be like Mike” (Michael Jordan) and so many others.

Professional athletes have influence. I would not call it power. That means many young people will do almost anything to mimic athletes and have the “bling, bling” (jewelry), the women and the men, the parties, the entourage, the clothing, the cars, the houses, the notoriety and perceived glory that athletes have.

But at what price?

That’s not to say all professional athletes are bad people. Many, if not most, athletes are good people.

Take Baton Rouge’s own Seimone Augustus, a former Capitol High School and former LSU star, who plays in the WNBA. Take Warrick Dunn, a former Catholic High and former Florida State star, who retired from the NFL after playing for the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

As of May 6, Dunn had helped 85 single parents buy homes through Homes for the Holidays, a program his foundation began in 1997 in Tampa, Fla. His mother, police Cpl. Betty Smothers, was murdered in January 1993 while working an off-duty security job in Baton Rouge. She was supporting six children.

In addition to those efforts, Dunn recognizes outstanding high school football players in the Baton Rouge area with the annual Warrick Dunn award.

He is a true role model.

A friend, Louis Harrison Jr., an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Texas at Austin who works with student-athletes, recently e-mailed me about reviewing a book, “Real Role Models,” that he co-authored. Can’t wait.

Johnny Brooks is an assistant metro editor for The Advocate. His e-mail address is