How do schools empower but also potentially emasculate young black men? In his new book, Black Boys Apart: Racial Uplift and Respectability in All-Male Public Schools
(University of Minnesota Press, 2018), Freeden Blume Oeur
uses observational and interview methods to better understand the lived experiences of young black men in two all-male schools. Situating the book in “privilege, power, and politics” (p. 7), Blume Oeur encourages the reader to think beyond typical narratives around race and masculinity. The book elaborates on how the two all-male school come to be, structurally -- through policies like No Child Left Behind, but also theoretically--through narratives of racial uplift and resilience. Blume Oeur explores gender dynamics in the schools as well, addressing issues like contradictory discourses around girls as competition or distraction, as well as the “adultification” of young black men. Overall, this book encourages the reader to think beyond traditional narratives, think more about the “hidden curriculum” of schools, and understand the lived experiences of these young black men in his study.
This book would be a great addition to any higher level undergraduate or graduate level Sociology of Education or Sociology of Race course. Anyone involved in educational systems, from primary school to higher education, should also read this book.
Sarah E. Patterson is a postdoc at the University of Western Ontario. You can tweet her at @spattersearch.