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Understanding Young Black Males: Notes on Education , Hope, and A Search Past Silence. David E. Kirkland, PhD AUTHOR ACTIVIST EDUCATOR CULTURAL CRITIC THINKER Executive Director, Center for Applied & Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Arts and Humanities
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David E. Kirkland, PhD
AUTHOR ACTIVIST EDUCATOR CULTURAL CRITIC THINKER
Executive Director, Center for Applied & Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Arts and Humanities
Associate Professor of English & Urban Education
Core Faculty, African American & African Studies
Michigan State University
To raise awareness of the condition of young Black men in contemporary society . . .
To provide a humanizing narrative of young Black men that illustrates the sensitivities and intimacies that shape his ways with words . . .
To provide suggestions for effectively engaging young Black men in the transformative project of education on his terms for social healing and for social justice . . .
Searching Past Silence Deals with the Ability to Tell Your Story on Your Terms
I am from Detroit!
“Now silence is the taming of voice, the erasure of sound. . . there are many versions of silence that underwrite Black male language . . . There is the act of being silenced, which splinters into two categories—forced silence (being made to shut up) and unforced silence (never being heard). There is also the silent dialect of Black men, the choice not speak, a language of calm and quiet against the loud breezes of inequity.”
The Statistical Narrative
The Interpretive Narrative
Silence for Shawn, unlike the “freedom” of speech, was not optional; it was unwritten racial law—mandated, a privilege unearned.
What would we hear?
“The more we know about who we serve the more we’ll know how to serve them.”—Pedro Noguera
The needs of your students are, in effect, the needs of your teachers.
“These were all versions of masculinity . . . They were all images of God in his continuous creation.Yet all did not point to Adam or the thunders of Ares. Some . . . followed the morning breeze, floated like clouds against the easy wind, and read books because young Black men read books too.”
“It is important to understand race as an element of history not to be separated from the bound compartments of time to which it is forever tied.”
We would hear everything he is because his voice, his literacy is tied to his identity as a Black males.
“The study of literacy is incomplete until it folds together the doing and the being, the struggle and the sacrifice—unless the story of literacy becomes the story of us, the literate. How does she or he come to be whoever she or he is? What stories are invented in the life of being that finds their way through the pen and through the creases of words practiced?”
What does this notion of literacy mean in terms of transforming education for Black males?
Don’t Limit Our Students to the Stories of Now . . .
Rethink the Basics . . .
(They are NOT reading, writing, and arithmetic.)
Rethink the Classroom . . .
Interrogate Assumptions about the Status Quo . . .
(Instead of failing students, let’s think about how we are failing students.)
Teach Like Your Life Depends on It . . .
Because theirs too often do!
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