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“I think Ms. Nemlowski is a racist and that’s why she picks on me. I didn’t do anything wrong this time.” I remember saying these words to my mother about Assistant Principal Nemlowski (not her real name) of the grammar school I attended on the Southside of Chicago called Jane A. Neil. On this occasion, Ms. Nemlowski decided to call home and request a parent conference after I threw a paper airplane at the back of the head of one of my friends during a test. Through many of my early school years, my parents knew my teachers and school administrators very well, because I was not always on my best behavior.
Black boys should disrupt class and not take school seriously is what I believed and embodied. Despite what my parents taught me and exemplified at home, dominant images of Black males as defiant and engaged in illegal activity is what intrigued me. I often embraced the behaviors that inspired my sisters to call me a name that I always hated, Yellow Monkey.
I didn't want to be called a lame or nerd in school, so I was disrespectful toward my teachers and fought my peers. I put forth average effort when it came to my academics and went to great lengths to gain popularity. My parents might romanticize about how I was the perfect child because I am their only son among six children. Their perception may also be partial because, despite average effort in school, I somehow managed to earn good grades in many of my classes.
Beginning in the third grade, I began to develop a disdain for authority and the rules that were enforced by adults. My elementary school's principal and assistant principal knew me well because teachers frequently called on them when I refused to follow the rules. I talked during class when I should have listened to the lesson. I stepped out of lines to get water without the permission of my teacher. I also threw paper airplanes in class while my classmates took tests. Whatever it took to gain attention and a laugh from my peers, I was willing to do it in school.
The previous paragraphs are from my book, Yellow Monkey: A Critical Race Autobiography for Educators of Black Males, that is currently under review. It is in the hands of a publishing house that is waiting to receive feedback from experts in the field of education. My goal is to have the book released by Christmas of this year. However, it really is difficult to offer a hard deadline, because of the editing and review process controlled by the publisher.
If for whatever reason the publisher and I are unable to come to an agreement on the content, I will release it via a self-publishing option on December 17, 2017. I have advertised this book via my social media network for over a year, and it is time to share it with the world. This book is intended to provide insight into the experiences of Black males in educational settings via my life's narratives.
It took me over a year of consistently writing the book to get the content to a level, that I believe will be well received. Is the content applicable to all Black males who are born in the United States? No, let's get real! We have some shared experiences due to the impact of the social constructs of race and gender, but every Black male has a unique story that is worth being told. I share my stories to create awareness around some of the issues I encountered that may be applicable to some, not all, Black males.
My goal for this book is to encourage at least one teacher to see the unlimited potential within one Black male student so that she can extract his greatness to make a positive impact in this world. Sign up for my mailing list to receive notice of the publication date, whenever that is, first!
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