Boyhood to Manhood

Deconstructing Black Masculinity through a Life Span Continuum

by C. Spencer Platt (Volume editor) Darryl B. Holloman (Volume editor) Lemuel W. Watson (Volume editor)
©2015 Textbook XI, 156 Pages


Boyhood to Manhood: Deconstructing Black Masculinity through a Life Span Continuum seeks to foster an open and honest discussion about the intersection of multiple identities found among Black males. The book explores topics such as what it means to be a Black male; race and ethnicity; health; [dis]ability; athletics; socioeconomic status; historical accounts; employment; religion and sexual identity. Many Black men share the experience of being members of cultures that are guided by strict gendered norms. These norms often require men to conform to «masculine» behaviors, which may increase their levels of risk-taking behavior, anxiety and fear of being ostracized should they fail to display the appropriate «male» skill sets. The ability to explore and embrace other possibilities for the ways that men can construct their personal and professional realities helps to enhance and broaden the ways in which men live their lives and seek opportunities. The qualitative, quantitative and historical data presented in this book provide new understandings of the experiences, roles and perspectives of Black men.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Purpose And Focus
  • Audience
  • Chapter One: First-Year Experience: Engaging and Supporting Millennial Black Males During the First Year of College
  • Deteriorating Pipeline
  • A New Generation Of Learners
  • The First-Year Experience
  • Methodology
  • Purpose of the Study
  • Research Questions
  • Institution
  • Participant Profile
  • The Findings
  • Social Engagement
  • Instructor-Student Relationship
  • Study Skills and Behaviors
  • Discussion And Recommendation
  • References
  • Chapter Two: Am I Not a Man and a Brother? I Am a Man
  • Black History, Black Men, And Revisionist Ontologies
  • Conceptual And Theoretical Frameworks
  • Methodology
  • Black Cultural Projections: Absent And Irresponsible
  • Black Cultural Projections: Powerless
  • Black Cultural Projections: Endangered And In Crisis
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • References
  • Chapter Three: All Eyes on Me: High-Profile African American Male Student-Athletes’ Social Transition into Predominantly White Institutions of Higher Education
  • Lack Of Academic Preparation Among African American Male Student-Athletes
  • The Need For Innovation In Assisting African American Male Student-Athletes
  • Literature Review
  • Transition Theory
  • Emerging Adulthood: The Process of Becoming an Adult
  • Transition from High School to College
  • Student-Athlete Transition: Competing Identities and Culture
  • Methodology
  • Participant Recruitment
  • Study Design
  • Procedure
  • Instrument
  • Data Analysis
  • Results
  • The Differential Treatment of African American Male Student-Athletes on Campus
  • The Shock of Being Immersed into a Dominant White Culture on Campus
  • Most Prevalent Stereotypes of African American Male Student-Athletes
  • Differential Treatment From Professors
  • Differential Treatment From Other Students
  • Discussion
  • Implications for Higher Education
  • References
  • Chapter Four: Brothers Gonna Work It Out: Black Male Academics Negotiating Mentorship, Fatherhood, and Partnerhood in a Community Context
  • Literature Review
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Methodology
  • Findings
  • Handlin’ My Bidness at Home
  • “Staying Black” in the PWI
  • Being Seen in the Community
  • Discussion & Implications
  • References
  • Chapter Five: The State of Health Among Black Men in the United States: Implications of Demographic Heterogeneity
  • Physical Health
  • HIV/AIDS and Black Men
  • Infant Health and Mortality
  • Child and Young Adult Health and Mortality
  • Adult Mortality and Life Expectancy
  • Gender, Health, and Mortality
  • Nativity and Morbidity
  • Mental Health
  • Nativity and Mental Health
  • A New Analysis on Mental Health
  • Determinants Of Health
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • References
  • Chapter Six: Everyday Struggle: Critical Race Theory and Black Male Doctoral Student Experience
  • Literature Review
  • Black Males in Schools
  • Black Doctoral Recipients
  • Doctoral Students and Academic Socialization
  • Methodology
  • Data Collection and the Interview Process
  • Data Analysis Procedures
  • Disclosure of Personal Interest-Positionality
  • Participants
  • Jamaal
  • Melvin
  • Peter
  • Corey
  • Reggie
  • Earnest
  • Elijah
  • Cedric
  • Terrence
  • Findings
  • Challenges of Fitting In and Standing Out
  • Walking the Minefield
  • Carrying the Mantle
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter Seven: Pimp or Pauper: An Autoethnography of Black Gangstaism’s Prevalence with College-Going Black Males at One Historically White Institution
  • A Lower Learning In Higher Education
  • Class Acts
  • A Gangsta Tragedy
  • Emergence Of Duality
  • Role Models And Rolling Stones
  • “Be Better Than Me”
  • Pimp In Training
  • Paupers In Pimps’ Clothing
  • Ellis Vs. Du Bois
  • Recommendations
  • References
  • Contributors
  • Series Index


List of Figures

“Am I Not a Man and a Brother?” Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Negro Life in Georgia. Photo Album, vol. 4, ca. 1900. Print and Photographs Division. Library of Congress. Bequest of Daniel A. P. Murray, ca. 1926 (42.7) Digital ID# ppmsca-08762

Paul Robeson as Othello

Major Charles Young with officers in Mexico. Source: US Cavalry, NPS; public domain

Ms. Juanita E. Jackson visiting the Scottsboro Boys, January 1937. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Visual Materials from the NAACP records (reproduction number LC-USZ62-123456)

Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Bradley, ca. 1955. Gelatin Silver Print. Visual Materials from the NAACP Records, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (7). Courtesy of the NAACP. Digital ID: cph 3f06304

Rodney King and L.A. police. CNN via Getty Images ← vii | viii →

← viii | ix →




Scholars, researchers, and policymakers continue to inform our communities that children of color, particularly “Black males,” lag behind every other demographic in academic achievement and success. The current representation—or even construction, if you will allow—of Black males in popular culture and social media often conflicts with the prevailing notions that have traditionally surrounded the ideology of masculine power and identity, particularly as that identity is juxtaposed against the idea of White male masculinity.

The heavily policed and illuminated image of the black male is the object of adolescent intrigue, public sphere fascination, and global product placement and consumption via commodification. Many scholars and policymakers continue to limit the analyses of black masculinity to detached statistical data and reports devoid of the authentic (re) presentations of the voice and performance of black masculinities across multiple spheres. Dr. Spencer Platt, Dr. Darryl B. Holloman, and Dr. Lemuel W. Watson, however, as editors of this volume, From Boyhood to Manhood: Deconstructing Black Masculinity through a Life Span Continuum, bring together a fantastic team of authors and researchers who move from the realm of objectifying the black male and reifying false deficit statistical constructions to investigating and interrogating the multi-dimensional complexities of being a black man in America. I am quite impressed with this volume and applaud the authors for utilizing qualitative, mixed methods, quantitative, case studies and various ← ix | x → sampling methodologies and theoretical frameworks as tools to deconstruct black masculinity through the life span of today’s black male.

Given the power of social media, the global community is witness to a wide variety of mediated imagery. However, the representation of the Black male is almost exclusively the duffle bag boy—drug runner, money carrier, thug. He is depicted as an aggressive, no-holds-barred bad boy, often a lifelong convict, always in and out of jail. The basis for this myopic representation—particularly in a perceived post-racial America—is rooted within the misconstrued “maleness” and power associated with crime. Particularly, as the criminal lifestyle has been glorified for Black males through music, language, fashion, and behavioral norms. The underlying messages in these images of Black masculinity are ones of heteronormativity, homophobia, and patriarchy. This volume deconstructs this popularized caricature of Black masculinity and offers insight into the varied and nuanced performances and experiences of Black masculinity. I believe Black males across the globe are one of the most powerful creations ever known to humanity and this volume serves as a testament to this belief. This volume interrogates the intersections of race, class, and gender with regard to Black masculinity and it moves the discourse across multiple epistemological landscapes.

As I reflect on the title, From Boyhood to Manhood: Deconstructing Black Masculinity Through a Life Span Continuum, I am reminded of a very important fact in our culture. The stigmatization of Black males has been embraced not only by America at large, but most sadly by the African American community as well. The dominant culture continues to perpetuate negative imagery of African American males through mass media, much of which is performed, produced, and written by Black men and women. Most notably, this negative construction of Black masculinity is promoted by hip-hop artists, often supported by a multibillion-dollar music conglomerate. This persistent imagery further perpetuates the ongoing demise of the African American male. We know cultural norms are learned through experience of and exposure to modeled values and behaviors. The construction of values and culture, and of Black masculinity, are communicated to our youth through this pervasive imagery and we can see those behaviors and beliefs being adopted by the next generation. These patterns become inscribed adaptive culture mechanisms—they become their truth, their swag, and their being.

The political disturbances and cultural re-articulation of the Black male image requires new contextualization and different interpretive strategies. Black heterosexual masculinity is the basis of how society understands and relates to Black males: hero worship in the case of rappers; naturalization and commodification of bodies in the case of athletes; fear in the case of Black gang members; and respect as noble warriors in the case of Afrocentric nationalists and Fruit of Islam. Despite the variety of these figures, it is nevertheless the same Black body—super star athlete, indignant rapper, menacing gang member, ad model, appropriate middle-class ← x | xi → professional, movie star—onto which competing and conflicting claims about (and for) Black masculinity are thrust. The mediated images of Black masculinity work symbolically in a number of directions at once; they challenge and disturb racial and class constructions of Blackness. They also rewrite and re-inscribe the patriarchal and heterosexual basis of masculine privilege (and domination) based on gender and sexuality. This book provides opportunities to disrupt these images and our understanding of Black masculinity, moving the discourse in a positive direction towards freeing society and Black males from the confines of these persistent cultural norms.

This volume furthers the discourse on Black masculinity in a variety of ways. The editors and authors create, actualize, and live out counter-narratives to these aforementioned mediated hegemonic constructions of the bestial, hypersexualized, aggressive, co-opted, and commodified Black male image and provide spaces for understanding, patience, and intimacy. In essence, the editors and authors seek out, produce, and construct knowledge that represents multilingual, multi-ethnic, and nonconforming gender identities and roles. In short, this work provides us with a sense of hope! Hope that things, although troubling, may not be as dire as they appear on the surface. Hope that things can and will change. Hope that the complexity of what it means to be Black and male should be further analyzed if adequate solutions are to be derived for those men who struggle against the confines of this construct. Hope on the eve of Maya Angelou’s transition to a higher celestial realm that Black men too must still rise. ← xi | xii →

← xii | xiii →



Spencer Platt
I would like to acknowledge and thank my family, friends, mentors and colleagues for theirs support. I would especially like to acknowledge the late Wanda Hendricks-Bellamy for believing in me.


XI, 156
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2015 (January)
Black Male Masculin Identity Minorities, Racism
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. XI, 156 pp.

Biographical notes

C. Spencer Platt (Volume editor) Darryl B. Holloman (Volume editor) Lemuel W. Watson (Volume editor)

C. Spencer Platt is Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina. He received his PhD in higher education administration from the University of Texas at Austin. Darryl B. Holloman is Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Georgia State University and has worked in student and academic affairs for over twenty years. His research examines the progression and persistence of underrepresented populations on college campuses. Lemuel W. Watson is Dean of the College of Education at the University of South Carolina and Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policies and Executive Director for the South Carolina Center for Educational Partnerships.


Title: Boyhood to Manhood
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