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Boyhood to Manhood

Deconstructing Black Masculinity through a Life Span Continuum


Edited By C. Spencer Platt, Darryl B. Holloman and Lemuel W. Watson

Boyhood to Manhood: Deconstructing Black Masculinity through a Life Span Continuum seeks to foster an open and honest discussion about the intersection of multiple identities found among Black males. The book explores topics such as what it means to be a Black male; race and ethnicity; health; [dis]ability; athletics; socioeconomic status; historical accounts; employment; religion and sexual identity. Many Black men share the experience of being members of cultures that are guided by strict gendered norms. These norms often require men to conform to «masculine» behaviors, which may increase their levels of risk-taking behavior, anxiety and fear of being ostracized should they fail to display the appropriate «male» skill sets. The ability to explore and embrace other possibilities for the ways that men can construct their personal and professional realities helps to enhance and broaden the ways in which men live their lives and seek opportunities. The qualitative, quantitative and historical data presented in this book provide new understandings of the experiences, roles and perspectives of Black men.
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Chapter Seven: Pimp or Pauper: An Autoethnography of Black Gangstaism’s Prevalence with College-Going Black Males at One Historically White Institution




“Dude! I’m a Pimp!!” is the mantra that I chanted across my college’s quad, with my Black male cohorts echoing my chant, mostly in unison. Each of us attempted to assert our dominance through the sheer volume of our statements. I spent six years at my predominantly White institution (PWI) engaging in this and similar manhood-professing behaviors. Little did I know that my friends and I were demanding our invitation into Black gangsta culture. Cureton (2009) described Black gangstaism as a social network institution where Black males participate in structured rites of passage that signify their transition from boyhood to manhood with the intent to mitigate the social oppression, isolation, resource strain, and denial of rights, freedoms, economic access, and social legitimacy they suffer because of their social class and skin color. Through my actions, I was immersing myself deeper into the Black gangstaism that had been so well crafted before my arrival at college in the mid-1990s and that I was so willing to perpetuate during my tenure at the institution even through graduation. The ← 131 | 132 → conviction evidenced through my behavior and my unwavering gangsta mindset was only one form my expression of manhood—the construction of manhood I had been socialized to believe.

I had seen this type of behavior be accepted and exhibited by men more senior than me and “cooler” than me. In this context, I use the term cool to mean those Black males...

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