In June, I had the opportunity to appear on George Kilpatrick’s radio show Inspiration for the Nation. The topics of the show explored race and Black masculinity. George asked me a series of questions about the content of my first book, Critical Race Theory in Education for Black Males: When Pretty Boys Become Men.
For about thirty minutes, George and I discussed police brutality, the inadequacies of schools, and community challenges that often influence success among Black males. At one point during the interview, he asked me to offer some specific solutions to help Black males realize their potential. After listening to the recording released earlier this week, I know that my responses were vague and didn’t reflect the book's content.
In the book, I share my school narratives from third grade to Ph.D. Each chapter ends with a section that addresses how my story relates to solutions applicable to other Black boys and young men of color in US educational settings. For whatever reason, I failed during the interview to offer specific ways that I believe schools can remedy the challenges they encounter with some Black males.
Here are 6 specifics from the book that schools can begin to implement today.
1. Stop criminalizing Black boys from the moment they enter schools.
The first chapter shares how my familial background and going to an elementary school on Chicago’s Southside shaped how I expressed myself as a young male uncovering my identity as a Black boy.
2. Create a culturally responsive curriculum.
In this second chapter, I write about how an innocent crush on a white girl taught me about the complexity of my identity that corresponded with race and gender.
3. Use Hip-hop as a pedagogical resource.
Chapter three highlights my obsession with Tupac and how I believe Hip-hop has the potential to create opportunities for critical dialogue with some young Black males.
4. Foster more opportunities for mentorship.
The focus of chapter four is my experiences in high school and the challenges I encountered in realizing my ability to serve as a leader.
5. Allocate college resources specifically to address the challenges of Black male students.
With chapter five, my goal is to illustrate how I was underprepared for college and the need for more programs to support Black males in their transitions from high school.
6. Encourage an internal social justice compass to succeed in graduate school.
Chapter six illustrates the challenges I endured in graduate school with the intention to demonstrate how vital an inner awareness guided by social justice and self-determination is for many Black males who wish to earn graduate or professional degrees.
After listening to my interview with George Kilpatrick, I believe that I tried to avoid presenting my perspectives as a “one size fits all,” remedy. My experiences illustrated in the book are one of many that Black males will have in their lifetimes. I am also aware that multiple institutions must work together to create a robust solution to address the complexities of the challenges that some Black males encounter in America.
My overarching goal with the book and with the work I continue today is to use educational settings as a foundation for encouraging positive self-awareness among young Black males and other underserved people of color.
Read more about my experiences by buying my book available on Amazon and directly from this link.