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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 5: Expect the (Un)Expected


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In this chapter, I evaluate the formation of life expectations of Black Bermudian males that emerges as an impactful process that informs the identities they embrace as they journey from boyhood to manhood. The expectations participants had of themselves and others vary significantly depending on the context of their lived experiences. Often, the expectations were a reflection of the expectations they embraced as a result of the counsel, examples, and/or shortcomings of others. Through the narrative portraits of five participants, I explore and extrapolate the diverse ways that this first theme—expectations—has been experienced and lived out in the men’s journeys to manhood. I introduce each participant through the lenses of their familial and schooling backgrounds. I then briefly discuss their varied involvement in community-based spaces.

While elements of the four themes (expectations, exposure, experimentation/experiences, and expression) were evident in the narratives of all twelve men, I have chosen to position the participants and their narratives within the themes that were most relevant to their lives and their stories in order to present a representative or thematic collage drawn from their individual stories. Specifically, in this chapter we meet Jeremiah, whose “high expectations” for himself and others paint an intriguing parallel when followed up by the rollercoaster ride of Dexter’s enthralling narrative of “low and shifting ← 53 | 54 → expectations.” We then meet Kevin, who clearly articulates how “unfulfilled expectations” in the journey to manhood can...

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