One of the most enduring blind spots in U.S. educational outcomes is the implementation of policies and approaches that support excellence for Black boys both within and outside of schools. Although outcomes frequently do not reflect the ongoing advocacy for supporting the achievements of Black boys, for over five decades, there has been a continued, impassioned, and innovative conversation on how to ensure that Black boys achieve successful outcomes with regularity and in high numbers. Yet, the proposed approaches are rarely implemented with the accountability, consistency, and breadth necessary to promote excellence for Black boys.

In fact, data demonstrates that Black boys are disproportionally suspended from schoolless likely to be in classrooms where teachers set high expectationsmore likely to be involved with the criminal justice system for normal, age-appropriate behavior than their white peers, and less likely to be enrolled in gifted and talented programs than their white peers. Because of endemic, anti-Black male racism, Black boys are among the most marginalized groups of children in the U.S.

Black boys do achieve excellence, however, and are more likely to do so in places that create a culture of care for them. In the school setting, this culture of care is often crafted with intentionality: in the selection and display of images of other high achieving Black men throughout the school, positive words of affirmation, strong student-teacher connections and efforts by schools to build relationships with families.

We know from previous research by Raj Chetty that Black boys do best in places with lower poverty levels, lower levels of discrimination, and high rates of fathers in a community. These observations led us to ask, what does a culture of care for Black boys look like?

On October 31, 2022, the Race, Prosperity, and Inclusion Initiative hosted a conversation with Dr. Julius Davis and Dr. Tyrone Howard, two highly regarded educational experts to discuss what characterizes an intentional culture of care for Black boys and how we can ensure that a culture of care for Black boys becomes a standard approach to uncovering and supporting excellence and success for them.

Both Dr. Davis and Dr. Howard have written extensively on why we need an intentional focus on Black boys, particularly in the educational space. School codes of conduct, achievement standards, the demographic profiles of most teachers, and the cultural references of the materials are centered around white middle class experiences. The cultural dissonance with the range of experiences of Black boys means that schools, are, almost by definition, places that affirm and center whiteness and exclude other experiences.

Read the full article about care for Black boys by Camille Busette at Brookings.