“We Had to Stick Together”

Black Boys, the Urban Neighborhood Context, and Educational Aspirations

in Boyhood Studies
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  • 1 University of Cincinnati derrick.brooms@uc.edu
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Abstract

Studies investigating disadvantaged urban neighborhoods often focus on students’ academic underperformance, ways they succumb to environmental stressors, involvement in illicit activities, and adherence to street-oriented behaviors and culture. This article focuses on the ways a select group of Black boys in the US successfully navigated structural impediments and interpersonal challenges during their secondary school years and eventually matriculated to college. Drawing on interview data, the article examines students’ sense-making and the importance of their peers in navigating the urban environment: (1) interactions with people in the neighborhood and (2) strategies to negotiate the urban environment context in pursuit of their educational aspirations. The students’ narratives highlight the benefits they assign to their peer relationships and collectivist efforts to support their educational goals.

Contributor Notes

Derrick R. Brooms, PhD, is Faculty in Sociology and Africana Studies at the University of Cincinnati and serves as a youth worker. His research and activism focus on educational equity, race and racism, diversity and inequality, and identity. His education research primarily centers on Black men and boys’ pathways to and through college, as well as on their engagement on campus, leadership, and identity development. He is author of Being Black, Being Male on Campus: Understanding and Confronting Black Male Collegiate Experiences (2017) and coauthor of Men of Color on Campus: Building Student Community in Higher Education (2018). Email: derrick.brooms@uc.edu | ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7271-2072

Boyhood Studies

An Interdisciplinary Journal

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