boys, not men

this past friday i was a part of panel titled, Teaching African American Males: What Educators Need to Know, which was held at Penn GSE. it was a privilege to be invited back to my alma mater and in the company of the other speakers on the panel: vivian gadsden and howard stevenson. i came away with two key points that resonate strongly with the work that i do.

gadsden shared statistics about the experiences of black males that should give more of us a strong call to action to make changes in how we "do" education. among them:
15% of black males are in special education - twice the number of black females.
she then noted that we should not be making comparisons between black boys and girls. she argued that both are being summarily dismissed by the educational system.

stevenson, drawing on his PLAAY project, began his brief response by asking the packed audience to repeat after him:
"boys not men"
he then showed a video in which images of adolescent african american males playing basketball, laughing, talking, and reflecting were cut with more staggering statistics that brought home the point that these young men, and many others like them, are being read by the world, at large, as men whose futures are already written for them. as one of the young men in the film notes "i'm only 16."

how do we get past the multiple mis-knowings that occur daily - in the media, in schools, in everyday interactions?

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