JAAME – Vol. 5, No. 2 – Special Issue on Blackmaleness
Guest Edited by
Marlon James, PhD
Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University
Chance W. Lewis, PhD
Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Full Professor of Urban Education, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Founding Executive Director, University of North Carolina at Charlotte Urban Education Collaborative
Dilemmas of Blackmaleness were explored in this special issue of the Journal of African American Males in Education, entitled, “Can You See Me Now?: Exploring the Critical Autoethnographies of Successful African American Males in Education.” Specifically, the task for this special issue was to explore how Black males use education to contest self, schools and society for their right to define and determine a unique, positive and functional understanding of Black male reality, and educational praxis that is responsive to the realities of Black male development. Toward these goals, the guest editors reviewed and submitted for double-blind reviews, 33 manuscripts, and painstakingly selected 9 essays to present in this volume.
Texas A&M University
Chance W. Lewis
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
I use autoethnography to guide a self-analysis of my professional and social identity as a ‘successful’ African American professor. Autoethnography is appropriate as it “displays multiple levels of consciousness, connecting the personal to the cultural” (Ellis & Boucher, 2000, p. 739). My journey in becoming educated involved a mostly linear and sometimes cyclical progression through the developmental stages of nigrescence (Cross, 1991; Cross & Vandiver, 2001; Parham, 1989). Consequently, I present and analyze my personal narrative through the five stages of the nigrescence model: pre-encounter, encounter, immersion-emersion, internalization, and internalization-commitment. Specifically, I interrogate how race has had an impact on my life and I have organized this narrative into four acts or sections of my life. I conclude that there is value in continuing to interrogate my racial identity in the academy. Based on my analysis and conclusions, I end with recommendations that can support African American males in their PK-20 educational journey.
Mark A. Gooden
University of Texas at Austin
The acquisition of knowledge in a classroom characterized by the frequent exchange of ideas is filtered through multiple socio-cultural perspectives. These perspectives shape the social and cultural norms teachers use to negotiate professional interactions with students, families, and colleagues. This essay develops the concept of perspective divergence to examine how differences in the social and cultural perspectives between teachers and students, in this case Black males, can significantly limit the teacher’s capacity to bolster positive student outcomes. Woodson’s (1933/2011) mis-education thesis is used to name the reasons for the disjuncture in perspective between Black teachers and Black students, through an exploration of one Black male’s teaching practice in Chicago. This autoethnography emphasizes the development of a pedagogy that a) accounts for the creativity and innovation of Black youth and b) prioritizes instructional alternatives that counter hegemonic educational norms meant to control student thinking and behavior, usurp agency, replace student values, and diminish student goals.
Chezare A. Warren
Michigan State University
This article explores my journey as a first-generation Black male matriculating to a research- intensive predominantly white institution (PWI): historically mired in integration struggles and battles over affirmative action. Employing theories of (in)visibility, I utilize scholarly personal narrative to analyze my feelings of alienation when exposed to microaggressions and inequities – to those of incorporation, leading to hypervisibility as a student-leader. After graduate degrees from a racially tense Ivy League institution, I returned “home” as a professor attempting to balance identities as a scholar, community servant, alumnus, and role model/mentor – with the veneer of cultural taxation. This narrative informs research on “homecomers” of color returning as faculty to their undergraduate institutions, and challenges the “vanishing” status of males of color in academe. Further, I invoke managed visibility as a strategy to inform survival and success in the academic realm; one that may prove useful for Black men in settings in which they vacillate between invisibility and hypervisibility.
Richard J. Reddick
The University of Texas at Austin
Upon arriving at my Jesuit high school in Detroit I became acutely aware of my positionality in a school populated by Whites, affluent African Americans, and students with two parents at home. Being neither White nor affluent, and being emotionally incarcerated while my father was physically incarcerated, my emotions oscillated between anger, hostility, and confusion. As such, I am called to reflect on recent conversations with African American males similarly positioned at Jesuit high schools. In fact, their stories, situated alongside my own, ground this autoethnographic paper within two theoretical frameworks—resilience theory and critical race theory. By utilizing these frameworks, it is my intention to move beyond a language of crisis that framed my experiences and locate my experiences and those of the students within the juxtaposition of the possibilities associated with a Jesuit education and the resilience and centrality of interracial and intraracial relationships that frame being the “other” in Jesuit schools.
Robert W. Simmons
Loyola University Maryland
This paper utilizes an autoethnographic account to investigate factors that influenced my motivation for academic and personal success as an African American male English teacher. I draw upon Bronfenbrenner’s (1974) bioecological model of human development and the role of the environment in shaping individual growth. This conceptual lens, in tandem with reflexive autoethnograpic methods, permits a strong depiction of linkages between my personal experiences, multiple identities, and sub-cultures while considering how factors such as peers, family, school, and community contributed to the development of my identity. Paramount to my story is the influence of literature, particularly narratives centered on Black males and the African American experience. This account offers a complex view of how my motivation was impacted by a personal encounter with racism from a White teacher; and, I illustrate how an African American female teacher rebuilt my racial identity through literacy. I conclude with personal and transformative recommendations for educators.
Lamar L. Johnson
This auto-ethnography explores issues of invisibility and resilience within Black male academic experiences. Researchers have noted that the public educational system plays an important role in the socialization of adolescent Black males. Various researchers, educators, and advocates have argued for the pertinence of education for Black men; they cite the social, cultural, and economic benefits of education and degree attainment. This is the springboard from which I engaged in my own educational and professional pursuits. In this article, I reexamine my personal narrative and experiences teaching two different courses—at a high school and a college—that specifically focused on Black men. I use this auto-ethnography to encourage educators to (a) engage in creative ways to expand our curriculums and (b) build inclusive classrooms that diminish African American men’s invisibility. The ultimate goal of this work is to contribute to ways that better connect our classrooms and institutions to Black male achievement and success.
Derrick R. Brooms
University of Louisville
This paper utilizes autoethnography as a method to analyze the life experiences of a tenured African-American male faculty member who works as an administrator in a college of education at a large research oriented university. Specifically, the narrative being explored constructs a counterstory to the master narrative regarding African-American males in the American educational system. This narrative counterstory goes beyond the recollection of life history and instead utilizes critical race theory (CRT) as a lens used to analyze the role of race in one individual’s experience and contextualizes this experience within the larger historical context of American educational institutions.
Michael E. Jennings
University of Texas at San Antonio
In this manuscript, I explore historical literature and the contemporary educational environment in which young African American males exist to assess the veracity of post-racial sentiments that have been espoused with increasing regularity since the Obama presidency in 2008. I will utilize critical race theory and a critical autoethnography methodology to illuminate the salience of race in episodes from my personal life, and how race has and continues to frame the educational discourse around African American males despite arguments to the contrary. Specifically, this manuscript considers the following research questions: How have post-integration racial sensibilities of the South shaped my personal and educational experiences? Second, how are these post-integration sensibilities evidenced in my own professional agenda? Finally, how can critical race scholarship produce an unbiased and pragmatic counternarrative to the post-racial educational discourse associated with African American male youth especially in the midst of Obama’s second term as President?
Ahmad R. Washington
South Carolina State University
In this paper, using autoethnographic/critical race counternarratives, I draw on the personal and professional experiences of my father to provide a historical and contemporary analysis of how his experiences and pedagogical practices informed mine. The question that drives this research is, “How can we use the teaching success of two generations of Black educators in a way that will contribute to the academic success of African American students?” By examining the transformative pedagogy of my father, I juxtapose his story with mine to celebrate our education successes with students, especially those who have been labeled “hard to teach.” The intention of this research, via my personal narrative, is to provide insights into how to more effectively prepare teachers to draw on the cultural and historical knowledge of their students.
University of La Verne
Texas A&M University
Chance W. Lewis
University of North Carolina at Charlotte