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The Boys Club

Male Protagonists in Contemporary African American Young Adult Literature

Series:

Wendy Rountree

The Boys Club: Male Protagonists in Contemporary African American Young Adult Literature is a study of prominent issues and themes such as education, identity, and racism in contemporary (i.e., post-Civil Rights era) young adult novels written primarily for African American boys by African American men and women writers. Representative works by writers Candy Dawson Boyd, Curtis Paul Curtis, Sharon G. Flake, Kenji Jasper, Kekla Magoon, Williams McDaniels, Walter Dean Meyers, and Jacqueline Woodson are analyzed. Ultimately, this book illustrates how men and women writers of young adult literature for African American boys reveal and validate the difficulties of growing up young, Black, and male in modern-day American society, and thereby seek to improve the lives of their readers.

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Chapter 2 Where Have All the Fathers Gone?: Searching for Identity in Jacqueline Woodson’s Miracle’s Boys 37

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2 Where Have All the Fathers Gone? Searching for Identity in Jacqueline Woodson’s Miracle’s Boys Sociologists and psychologists have consistently studied the effects of absen- tee fathers in the lives of young African American children since the mid- twentieth century. And, it is a problem that has continued to plague the Afri- can American community into the twenty-first century. Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu believes that “fatherlessness (sic) is the second greatest problem facing [the African American community] today” only behind socioeconomic racism (48). “If you look at all the woes in our society—drug addiction, teen preg- nancy, illiteracy, grade retention, incarceration—the common thread running through them all is the absence of the father in a child’s life” (48). Even President Baraka Obama, who grew up without his own father in his life, has spoken on the impact of fathers. In then Senator Obama’s June 2008 Father’s Day Speech to the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, he promotes the need for more African American men to be stable and noble fathers to their children and says, “we also need families to raise our children. We need fa- thers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child—it’s the courage to raise one”. In many ways, Obama has served as a national role model for Black fatherhood, a Black man who is a doting husband and fa- ther. This image...

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