Michael V. Singh, "Good Boys, Bad Hombres: The Racial Politics of Mentoring Latino Boys in Schools" (U Minnesota Press, 2024)


The unintended consequences of youth empowerment programs for Latino boys Educational research has long documented the politics of punishment for boys and young men of color in schools—but what about the politics of empowerment and inclusion? In Good Boys, Bad Hombres: The Racial Politics of Mentoring Latino Boys in Schools (U Minnesota Press, 2024), Michael V. Singh focuses on this aspect of youth control in schools, asking on whose terms a positive Latino manhood gets to be envisioned. Based on two years of ethnographic research in an urban school district in California, Good Boys, Bad Hombres examines Latino Male Success, a school-based mentorship program for Latino boys. Instead of attempting to shape these boys’ lives through the threat of punishment, the program aims to provide an “invitation to a respectable and productive masculinity” framed as being rooted in traditional Latinx signifiers of manhood. 

Singh argues, however, that the promotion of this aspirational form of Latino masculinity is rooted in neoliberal multiculturalism, heteropatriarchy, and anti-Blackness, and that even such empowerment programs can unintentionally reproduce attitudes that paint Latino boys as problematic and in need of control and containment. An insightful gender analysis, Good Boys, Bad Hombres sheds light on how mentorship is a reaction to the alleged crisis of Latino boys and is governed by the perceived remedies of the neoliberal state. Documenting the ways Latino men and boys resist the politics of neoliberal empowerment for new visions of justice, Singh works to deconstruct male empowerment, arguing that new narratives and practices—beyond patriarchal redemption—are necessary for a reimagining of Latino manhood in schools and beyond.

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Laura Kelly

Laura Beth Kelly is an assistant professor of Educational Studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

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