Border Crossing «Brothas»

Black Males Navigating Race, Place, and Complex Space

by Ty-Ron M. O. Douglas (Author)
©2016 Textbook XXX, 212 Pages


Winner of the 2017 Society of Professors of Education Book Award
Winner of the 2017 American Educational Studies Association Critics' Choice Award
Border Crossing «Brothas» examines how Black males form identities, define success, and utilize community-based pedagogical spaces to cross literal and figurative borders. The tragic deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, and numerous others from Brooklyn, Britain, and Bermuda whose lives have been taken prematurely suggest that negotiating race, place, and complex space is a matter of life and death for Black males. In jurisdictions such as the U.S. and Bermuda, racial tensions are the palpable and obvious reality, yet the average citizen has no idea how to sensibly react. This book offers a reasonable response that pushes readers to account for and draw on the best of what we know, the core of who we are, and the needs and histories of those we serve.

Drawing on the educational and socializing experiences of Black males in Bermuda – a beautiful yet complex island with strong connections to the U.S., England, and the Caribbean – this book offers educators and leaders new language for postcolonial possibilities and emancipatory epistemologies related to Black male identities and success in a global context. Intriguing findings and fresh frameworks grounded in understandings of race, class, ability, transnationalism, culture, colonialism, and the construction/performance of gendered identity emerge in this book.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • Advance praise for Border Crossing Brothas
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Credits
  • Foreword
  • Introduction: Context Matters
  • Chapter 1: Mesearch, Research, Wesearch
  • Chapter 2: Race, Place, and Space: Transmitting Black Masculinities
  • Chapter 3: We Ain’t No Fools: Embracing the Breadth of Education
  • Chapter 4: Amalgamating Theories, Constructing a Conceptual Lens to Study Black Bermudian Identity Development
  • Chapter 5: Expect the (Un)Expected
  • Chapter 6: Black Bermudian Males and Community-Based Pedagogical Spaces
  • Chapter 7: Exposure to Life Options: Seeing Is Believing
  • Chapter 8: Layered Identities
  • Chapter 9: Moving Forward: Freesearch, Freeach, Freedership
  • The Road Taken: A Tribute to a Brilliant Blue Collar Worker
  • Appendix A: Participant Interview Protocol
  • Appendix B: Methodology
  • Appendix C: A Conceptual Model of FREEsearch, FREEach, and FREEdership
  • Appendix D: 30 Keys/Cs to Cracking Community Codes and Classrooms
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Author

| ix →


I have been blessed with a supportive community of mentors, colleagues, and scholars who have contributed to my professional and academic journey. I would like to acknowledge my grade 2 teacher at Paget Primary, Mrs. Rochelle Furbert Bean, who assured me that I was “likeable and capable,” and encouraged my love of words by tolerating my declaration—as a precocious 7 year old—that she was “being facetious.” I am also grateful to the other formal and informal educators in the various schoolhouses and community-based pedagogical spaces in which I was nurtured: “I am because we are.” I am particularly grateful for the educators, colleagues, mentors, and friends at Bermuda College, Oakwood University, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) who helped me foster a love of learning. In particular, I am grateful for Dr. Camille M. Wilson, whose sage counsel, professionalism, and friendship helped create a foundation for me to emerge and blossom as a scholar. Dr. Tyrone C. Howard is more than the contributor of the Foreword to this book—he is an admirable Black male leader who has modeled for me what I hope to be as a mentor to the next generation of scholars. At UNCG, the University of Missouri, and the many organizations with which I am associated, I have encountered numerous colleagues and students who have stretched me as a theoretician, inspired me as a thinker, and embraced me as a friend. Thank you! This project would not exist without each of you. ← ix | x →

My sincere gratitude must be extended to the 12 border-crossing brothas who participated in this study. From each of you I drew wisdom, strength, and perspective. Your insights and stories inspired me to write and live with greater purpose. Thank you to my prayer line brothers and my accountability partners, inside and outside the academy. I am a reflection of the cadre of amazing men in my circle.

Living with purpose is possible in large part because of my loving and supportive family. I thank my bride, Bobbie. You are and will always be “My rib, My love, My Eve.” To my fellas, Jalen and Essien, I am grateful for the tangible reminders that my first and highest calling is to my role in our home. Thank you for the impromptu football (soccer) games and the crashing sound of drums that draw me from the computer to learn more intimately what fun and fatherhood is all about. I love you both! I am also especially grateful to my dad, Stanley, my mother, Lucy, my sister, Zakiya, and Nana Bean for your love and support. Thank you to my papas, aunts, uncles, friends, and the rest of the Village.

Finally, thank you to God for the wisdom, strength, and opportunity to complete this project. With each day, I come to know and experience Proverbs 16:3 with greater clarity: “Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.”

| xi →


Portions of Chapter 2 were previously published as Douglas, T. M. O. (2012). Resisting idol worship at HBCUs: The malignity of materialism, Western masculinity, and spiritual malefaction. The Urban Review, 44(3): 378–400, and Douglas, T. M. O. (2016). Black fathers as curriculum: Adopting sons, advancing progressive-regressive black masculinity. In L. Bass (Ed.), Black mask-ulinity: A framework for black masculine caring. (pp. 93–107). New York, N.Y.: Peter Lang Publishing. Reprinted with the permission of The Urban Review and Peter Lang Publishing.

Portions of Chapter 3 were previously published as Douglas, T. M. O., & Peck, C. M. (2013). Education by any means necessary: An historical exploration of community-
based pedagogical spaces for peoples of African descent. Educational Studies, 49(1), 67–91 and Douglas, T. M. O. (2014). Conflicting messages, complex leadership: A critical examination of the influence of sports clubs and neighborhoods in leading Black Bermudian males. Planning & Changing, 45(3/4): 311–338. Reprinted with the permission of both Educational Studies and Planning & Changing.

Portions of Chapter 4 were previously published as Douglas, T. M. O. (2013). Confessions of a border crossing brotha-scholar: Teaching race with all of me. In D. J. Davis & P. Boyer (Eds.), Social justice and racism in the college classroom: Perspectives from different voices (pp. 55–67). Bingley, U.K.: Emerald Publishing Group Ltd. Reprinted with the permission of Emerald Publishing Group Ltd.

Portions of Chapters 4 and 7 were previously published as Douglas, T. M. O., & Witherspoon-Arnold, N. (2016). Exposure in and out of school: A black Bermudian male’s successful educational journey. Journal manuscript. Teachers College Record. 118(6), 1–36. Reprinted with the permission of Teachers College Record.

| xiii →



In Gloria Anzaldúa’s (1987) important work on the “Borderlands,” she offers what she calls an “autohistoria” which she refers to as a genre of mixed media, comprised of personal narrative, testimonio, factual accounts, cuento, and poetry—that repudiates equilibrium just as the Borderlands from which Anzaldúa comes. According to Anzaldúa, the Border is an alterative space or a “third country” whose history has been told primarily through an Anglocentric lens, which she attempts to disrupt through a feminist analysis. It is in this prism that Anzaldúa challenges readers to understand the importance of a particular type of consciousness that can be culturally, politically and socially liberating. According to Anzaldúa this consciousness entails a “shift out of habitual formations: form convergent thinking, analytical reasoning that tends to use rationality to move toward a single goal … characterized by movement away from set patterns and goals toward a more whole perspective, one that includes rather than excludes” (p. 101).

It is against this backdrop in search of a greater consciousness that we see Ty-Ron Douglas heeding Anzaldúa’s call for crossing borders, interrogating space, place, and race and seeking the creation of a new narrative; but this time for one of the more marginalized populations globally—Black men. This timely work offers its readers a new narrative as told by those who have been historically on the margins socially, economically, politically and educationally. ← xiii | xiv → Douglas offers a new narrative that defies traditional boundaries and categories to elucidate transformative accounts of how populations affected by the horrors of colonialism, patriarchy, and racism continue to thrive and resist the vestiges of conquest. In Border Crossing Brothas: Blacks Males Navigating Race, Place and Complex Space, we hear the voices of strength, resilience, vulnerability, inquisitiveness and resistance of young Black males. At a time when Black males continue to be over policed, under educated, and grossly misunderstood, Douglas provides a compelling and inspiring account of how to humanize these young men. Yet, he offers this insight not from the perspective of policy makers, political pundits, or social media, but from the men themselves. This work does not offer simplistic interventions and solutions, but a highly nuanced combination of frameworks and analytic tools that delve deep historically and contemporarily into the reality of Black men in Bermuda. The need for humanization of Black males has long been one of the missing pieces of the project called democracy. At a time when nation-states continue to make claims of inclusivity, justice, and freedom, listening to Black males offers a counter-story that disrupts the egalitarian tale as told by countries across the world. There is need to challenge this reality and only by capturing the voices, experiences, and hopes of Black males can we capture authenticity in acceptance and global justice.

Douglas’ work is important because it challenges us to think about Black life, identity, education, and manhood historically, and within a diasporic context. In the United States, when the emancipation proclamation was signed in 1865 it formally ended one of the most brutal and inhumane projects in human history—the institution of slavery. Though rejoiced by many at the time in the United States, the global impact of three and half centuries of enslavement had left its dreadful footprints on countless nations whose remnants are still felt today. The human costs of slavery have been well documented, but also critical are the spiritual, political, economic, psychological, cultural and colonial affects that slavery left on millions of people of African descent. Where the dialogues of slavery are concerned in the US, much of it is on the descendants of enslaved Africans who made it to North America. Often missing in the larger discussion around slavery is the African presence throughout the voyage from the continent of Africa to the Americas. A perusal of the geo historical treks of slavery would show that the port stops throughout the journey resulted in only 4–5% of enslaved Africans ever reaching what is now the United States. Understanding the ← xiv | xv → complete legacy of slavery would entail being mindful that by some accounts as many as a third of stolen Africans ultimately settled in Brazil and northeastern parts of South America. Equally important is that by some estimates half of enslaved Africans found themselves in what is now referred to as the West Indies, and its northern and southern regions. Given that the majority of stolen Africans found themselves situated in Caribbean nations and surrounding territories, the experiences of these populations are germane to the complete story of slavery. To the far north of the West Indies we locate the country of Bermuda. A small island where Douglas situates this masterful work, and challenges us to expand the Black male narrative. Throughout this work he encourages us to understand the long-lasting influences of colonial domination, and how it has, and continues to influence the African diaspora. Moreover, building on the work of Kimberle Crenshaw (1989), Douglas nicely situates the salience of intersectionality in a manner that helps readers to reflect on how race, gender, masculinity, and immigration continue to be a confluence of dynamic social identities that are often under theorized and researched where Black life is concerned. Frantz Fanon (1961) reminds us about the long lasting affects of colonialism and the damage it continues to inflict on its victims. He adequately described the psychological violence against the colonized that has been perpetuated by the settlers. He surmises that colonialism hinges in part on the acceptance by the colonized of their inferior status. It is challenging this inferiority status and deficit based accounts of Black male identities that Douglas seeks to disrupt with the voices of Black males whom he refers to as border crossers. This inferiority is economic and social, it is political and educational, and it can have a profound affect on identity formation.

By using the context of being a border crossing brotha-scholar, Douglas engages us in his own mesearch—the study of his own personal experiences and journey—to extrapolate pedagogical possibilities that can be replicated, altered, or institutionalized toward the healing of others that share in marginal identities. In this way, Douglas provides readers with a glimpse into the effects of postcolonial and border theory and reminds readers that Bermuda as an English colony still suffers from many of the same challenges as Black minds and bodies do in the United States, in that the quest for identity affirmation and confirmation is an ongoing pursuit. For Black males, the formation of a self-sustaining identity is often rooted in a narrowly defined construct of masculinity, which Douglas reminds us is fluid and complex. Moreover, ← xv | xvi → masculinity as a contested notion, must be re-conceptualized and re-imagined in a manner that disrupts singular, reductive forms which ignores the multiple ways that masculinities are embodied, explored, and experienced. The disturbing notions of masculinity held by many Black boys and men are defined in patriarchal, misogynistic, and materially based concepts and are often the source of Black men’s inabilities to live, love, learn, and last in self-sustaining ways. These affects reverberate throughout entire Black communities across the globe. Douglas provides us with cogent accounts from young Black men who are challenging these notions in formidable ways that are full of struggle, yet plentiful with possibility and a determination to be difference makers in their homes, schools, and communities.

Douglas explores the essential question of “How do Black Bermudian males form personal identities as they journey from boyhood to manhood?” This question is salient because it is one that continues to defy Black people the world over. In a world steeped in white supremacy, patriarchy, homophobia, and xenophobia, far too many Black males are looking to identify spaces and places for their person hood to be honored, recognized, affirmed and uplifted. Instead of imposing colonial frames on these young men, what Douglas does is compellingly provide the space for these young men to be the authors of their stories, to craft their own narratives, and he does it in safe and sacred spaces that have long been pedagogical stages for Black men to grapple with the realities of life. Black churches, Black barbershops, sports clubs, and neighborhoods in Bermuda are situated as educative spaces for Black males and serve as the locations where Douglas engages this work. This work is sobering, yet hopeful, bold, yet distressing, and it conveys a series of possibilities that can serve as a platform for future research. As the United States continues to witness unprecedented diversity, the increasing influence of immigration is real. This reality will challenge researchers, scholars, and practitioners to rethink old frames, to challenge age-old axioms about various social groups, and to engage in praxis that is informed by our 21st century reality. Our reality is one where culture, race, identity, and global histories matter. To that end, Ty-Ron Douglas offers us a granular analysis and a pedagogic framework for how scholars need to re-imagine the telling of story and the crafting of narrative for marginalized populations. Not only does this work offer its readers a border crossing in the Bermudian context, but it offers us a crossing into the complexities of how we all must think about our work in our rapidly transforming global community. ← xvi | xvii →



XXX, 212
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2016 (September)
identity community-based education culture race Bermuda black males
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2016. XXX, 212 pp.

Biographical notes

Ty-Ron M. O. Douglas (Author)

Ty-Ron M. O. Douglas, Ph.D., is an assistant professor and PK–12 Program Coordinator at the University of Missouri—Columbia in the Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis Department. Dr. Douglas’s work has appeared in outlets such as The Urban Review, Educational Studies, Teachers College Record, and Race, Ethnicity, and Education.


Title: Border Crossing «Brothas»
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242 pages