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Border Crossing «Brothas»

Black Males Navigating Race, Place, and Complex Space


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 3: We Ain’t No Fools: Embracing the Breadth of Education


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Embracing the Breadth of Education

Across the Black Diaspora, the history of education reflects the legacy of struggle, sacrifice, and oppression that has also come to characterize significant elements of the Black experience (Anderson, 1988; Du Bois, 1898/1973; Morris, 2009; Ogbu, 2007; Woodson, 1911). In fact, schooling and education for Black people have historically been two separate experiences that intersect at times, but always continue to function independently of each other (Shujaa, 1994). Moreover, the history of education for Black people is one that has consistently occurred outside of traditional schooling. This reality is not lost on many individuals within Black communities. For example, the term educated fool is commonly used in Black communities to describe a Black person who has been schooled within mainstream structures but lacks the cultural relevancy or street smarts to be an effective agent for and within his or her community (Shujaa, 1994). This language is rooted in the understanding within Black communities that traditional schooling experiences alone are not sufficient for preparing Black people for life, resiliency, and service (Frazier, 1973; Hale, 2001; Shujaa, 1994; Woodson, 1911, 1933).

Throughout their history, members of the African Diaspora have produced a strong heritage of accessing education through community-based pedagogical spaces. Slaves, for instance, established educational networks within ← 23 | 24 → plantations and used clever subterfuge to learn to read. They did so often at significant personal and collective risk, as many...

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