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The Boys Club

Male Protagonists in Contemporary African American Young Adult Literature


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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Conclusion 117


Conclusion The Boys Club: Male Protagonists in African American Young Adult Litera- ture has been an attempt to answer the question I posed in the Introduction; what does it mean to be an African American boy in the latter part of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st? Because of socio-economic and so- cio-political progress during the twentieth century, the economic, education- al, social, political opportunities afforded to many African American boys and their families have certainly increased over time. Yet, in many ways, whether in the home, in the neighborhood, in the classroom, or on the bas- ketball court, too many African American boys face similar social ills that their ancestral counterparts faced in the past and more recent past such as cultural and personal identity confusion, discrimination, poor literacy, rac- ism, and violence to name a few. These circumstances suggest that African Americans still have to continue to seek equity in America and that African American boys still need to be emotionally and psychologically supported. Often vilified in the media as criminals and / or low-achievers, African American boys’ lived experiences need validation from their own families and the African American community at large to counter the negative main- stream stereotypes that can instill a sense of inferiority in them. It also must be said that boys must take more personal responsibility for some of the poor choices they make like not concentrating on academics and seeking quick wealth from selling drugs and begin looking for other...

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