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Border Crossing «Brothas»

Black Males Navigating Race, Place, and Complex Space

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Ty-Ron M. O. Douglas

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.

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Chapter 1: Mesearch, Research, Wesearch

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MESEARCH, RESEARCH, WESEARCH

Overlooking the iconic pillars on the University of Missouri campus from my 2nd-floor office window, I can’t help but wonder if I ever would have graced this campus had I been raised by my biological father and family in St. Louis. I might easily have attended the same schools as Michael Brown, in the Normandy School District, and I often wonder if I would be a professor at the flagship institution of the state if I had grown up on Natural Bridge Road in St. Louis rather than on Ord Road in Bermuda, with pink sand and blue water nearby. The underrepresentation of Black male faculty on my campus would suggest that the answer is likely “no.”

Undoubtedly, the tragic and untimely death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, in addition those of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, and the numerous other Black men and women whose lives have been taken prematurely by law enforcement, suggest that negotiating race, place, and complex space can be a matter of life and death for Black males. Certainly, the uprisings in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Bermuda have incited heated debate, reawakened fears, and exposed the naiveté of those who believe(d) we live in a postracial society. In many spaces where I function, racial tensions are as palpable and obvious as the reality that the average citizen has no idea how to reasonably respond. I define a “reasonable response...

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