Statistics show that black males are disproportionately getting in trouble and being suspended from the nation's school systems. Based on three years of participant observation research at an elementary school, Bad Boys offers a richly textured account of daily interactions between teachers and students to understand this serious problem. Ann Arnett Ferguson demonstrates how a group of eleven- and twelve-year-old males are identified by school personnel as "bound for jail" and how the youth construct a sense of self under such adverse circumstances. The author focuses on the perspective and voices of pre-adolescent African American boys. How does it feel to be labeled "unsalvageable" by your teacher? How does one endure school when the educators predict one's future as "a jail cell with your name on it?" Through interviews and participation with these youth in classrooms, playgrounds, movie theaters, and video arcades, the author explores what "getting into trouble" means for the boys themselves. She argues that rather than simply internalizing these labels, the boys look critically at schooling as they dispute and evaluate the meaning and motivation behind the labels that have been attached to them. Supplementing the perspectives of the boys with interviews with teachers, principals, truant officers, and relatives of the students, the author constructs a disturbing picture of how educators' beliefs in a "natural difference" of black children and the "criminal inclination" of black males shapes decisions that disproportionately single out black males as being "at risk" for failure and punishment.
Bad Boys is a powerful challenge to prevailing views on the problem of black males in our schools today. It will be of interest to educators, parents, and youth, and to all professionals and students in the fields of African-American studies, childhood studies, gender studies, juvenile studies, social work, and sociology, as well as anyone who is concerned about the way our schools are shaping the next generation of African American boys.
Ann Arnett Ferguson is Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies and Women's Studies, Smith College.
How neoliberalism and the politics of respectability are transforming African American manhood
While single-sex public schools face much criticism, many Black communities see in them a great promise: that they can remedy a crisis for their young men. Black Boys Apart reveals triumphs, hope, and heartbreak at two all-male schools, a public high school and a charter high school, drawing on Freeden Blume Oeur’s ethnographic work. We meet young men who felt their schools empowered and emasculated them, parents who were frustrated with co-ed schools, teachers who helped pave the road to college, and administrators who saw in Black male academies the advantages of privatizing education.
While the two schools have distinctive histories and ultimately charted different paths, they were both shaped by the convergence of neoliberal ideologies and a politics of Black respectability. As Blume Oeur reveals, all-boys education is less a school reform initiative and instead joins a legacy of efforts to reform Black manhood during periods of stark racial inequality. Black male academies join long-standing attempts to achieve racial uplift in Black communities, but in ways that elevate exceptional young men and aggravate divisions within those communities.
Black Boys Apart shows all-boys schools to be an odd mix of democratic empowerment and market imperatives, racial segregation and intentional sex separation, strict discipline and loving care. Challenging narratives that endorse these schools for nurturing individual resilience in young Black men, this perceptive and penetrating ethnography argues for a holistic approach in which Black communities and their allies promote a collective resilience.
Closing the Education Achievement Gaps for African American Males is a research-based tool to improve the schooling experience of African American males. Editors Theodore S. Ransaw and Richard Majors draw together a collection of writings that provide much-needed engagement with issues of gender and identity for black males, as well as those of culture, media, and technology, in the context of education.
The distinguished and expert contributors whose work comprises this volume include an achievement-gap specialist for males of color, two psychologists, a math teacher, an electrical engineer, a former school principal, a social worker, and a former human rights commissioner. From black male learning styles to STEM, this book shows that issues pertaining to educational outcomes for black males are nuanced and complex but not unsolvable.
With its combination of fresh new approaches to closing achievement gaps and up-to-date views on trends, this volume is an invaluable resource on vital contemporary social and educational issues that aims to improve learning, equity, and access for African American males.
Drawing from the work of top researchers in various fields, The Handbook of Research on Black Males explores the nuanced and multifaceted phenomena known as the black male. Simultaneously hyper-visible and invisible, black males around the globe are being investigated now more than ever before; however, many of the well-meaning responses regarding media attention paid to black males are not well informed by research. Additionally, not all black males are the same, and each of them have varying strengths and challenges, making one-size-fits-all perspectives unproductive. This text, which acts as a comprehensive tool that can serve as a resource to articulate and argue for policy change, suggest educational improvements, and advocate judicial reform, fills a large void. The contributors, from multidisciplinary backgrounds, focus on history, research trends, health, education, criminal and social justice, hip-hop, and programs and initiatives. This volume has the potential to influence the field of research on black males as well as improve lives for a population that is often the most celebrated in the media and simultaneously the least socially valued.
Many advocates of all-black male schools (ABMSs) argue that these institutions counter black boys’ racist emasculation in white, “overly” female classrooms. This argument challenges racism and perpetuates antifeminism.
Keisha Lindsay explains the complex politics of ABMSs by situating these schools within broader efforts at neoliberal education reform and within specific conversations about both "endangered” black males and a “boy crisis” in education. Lindsay also demonstrates that intersectionality, long considered feminist, is in fact a politically fluid framework. As such, it represents a potent tool for advancing many political agendas, including those of ABMSs supporters who champion antiracist education for black boys while obscuring black girls’ own race and gender-based oppression in school. Finally, Lindsay theorizes a particular means by which black men and other groups can form antiracist and feminist coalitions even when they make claims about their experiences that threaten bridge building. The way forward, Lindsay shows, allows disadvantaged groups to navigate the racial and gendered politics that divide them in pursuit of productive—and progressive—solutions.
Far-thinking and boldly argued, In a Classroom of Their Own explores the dilemmas faced by professionals and parents in search of equitable schooling for all students—black boys and otherwise.
For the middle class and the affluent, local ties seem to matter less and less these days, but in the inner city, your life can be irrevocably shaped by what block you live on. Living the Drama takes a close look at three neighborhoods in Boston to analyze the many complex ways that the context of community shapes the daily lives and long-term prospects of inner-city boys.
David J. Harding studied sixty adolescent boys growing up in two very poor areas and one working-class area. In the first two, violence and neighborhood identification are inextricably linked as rivalries divide the city into spaces safe, neutral, or dangerous. Consequently, Harding discovers, social relationships are determined by residential space. Older boys who can navigate the dangers of the streets serve as role models, and friendships between peers grow out of mutual protection. The impact of community goes beyond the realm of same-sex bonding, Harding reveals, affecting the boys’ experiences in school and with the opposite sex. A unique glimpse into the world of urban adolescent boys, Living the Drama paints a detailed, insightful portrait of life in the inner city.
The circumstances affecting many African American males in schools and society remain complex and problematic. In spite of modest gains in school achievement and graduation rates, conditions that impede the progress of African American males persist: high rates of school violence and suspensions, overrepresentation in special education classes, poor access to higher education, high incidence of crime and incarceration, gender and masculine identity issues, and HIV/AIDS and other health crises.
The essays gathered here focus on these issues as they exist for males in grades K-12 and postsecondary education in Michigan. However, the authors intend their analyses and policy recommendations to apply to African American males nationally.
Although it recognizes the current difficulties of this population overall, this is an optimistic volume, with a goal of creating policies and norms that help African American males achieve their educational and social potential. In this era of widespread change for all members of American society-regardless of race-this book is a must-read for educators and policymakers alike.