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Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity (Law, Meaning, and Violence) [Paperback]

Ann Arnett Ferguson
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 28, 2001 0472088491 978-0472088492 Reprint
Statistics show that black males are disproportionately getting in trouble and being suspended from the nation's school systems. Based on three years of participant observation research at an elementary school, Bad Boys offers a richly textured account of daily interactions between teachers and students to understand this serious problem. Ann Arnett Ferguson demonstrates how a group of eleven- and twelve-year-old males are identified by school personnel as "bound for jail" and how the youth construct a sense of self under such adverse circumstances. The author focuses on the perspective and voices of pre-adolescent African American boys. How does it feel to be labeled "unsalvageable" by your teacher? How does one endure school when the educators predict one's future as "a jail cell with your name on it?" Through interviews and participation with these youth in classrooms, playgrounds, movie theaters, and video arcades, the author explores what "getting into trouble" means for the boys themselves. She argues that rather than simply internalizing these labels, the boys look critically at schooling as they dispute and evaluate the meaning and motivation behind the labels that have been attached to them. Supplementing the perspectives of the boys with interviews with teachers, principals, truant officers, and relatives of the students, the author constructs a disturbing picture of how educators' beliefs in a "natural difference" of black children and the "criminal inclination" of black males shapes decisions that disproportionately single out black males as being "at risk" for failure and punishment.
Bad Boys is a powerful challenge to prevailing views on the problem of black males in our schools today. It will be of interest to educators, parents, and youth, and to all professionals and students in the fields of African-American studies, childhood studies, gender studies, juvenile studies, social work, and sociology, as well as anyone who is concerned about the way our schools are shaping the next generation of African American boys.
Anne Arnett Ferguson is Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies and Women's Studies, Smith College.

Frequently Bought Together

Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity (Law, Meaning, and Violence) + Dude, You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School + Women without Class: Girls, Race, and Identity
Price for all three: $71.07

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Product Details

  • Series: Law, Meaning, and Violence
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press; Reprint edition (August 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472088491
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472088492
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bad Boys, Good Book! March 29, 2001
By A Customer
This is an excellent book and anyone interested in the future of not only black children but all children in the public school system must read it. Ferguson reintroduces us to a world many of us have long left behind and almost forgotten-elementary school. But more importantly she gives us a new perspective on the plight of young black men. Looking specifically at how the public school system constructs and imagines young black boys as troublemakers, Ferguson reveals how well intentioned educators contribute and reinforce negative and racist stereotypes about black men. Fegerson, however, is at her best when she demonstrates how young black boys through daily resistance (understood by teachers as making trouble) attempt to challenge a system that devalues their ways of knowing and expressing themselves. Read this book and give it to to a teacher, a mother, a father, a grandparent, anyone who is interested it making sure that all children get a quality education.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book June 11, 2004
Bad Boys by Ann Arnette Ferguson was an amazing book. I appreciated the ways that the theory that I have been reading flowed out of it. The book reminded me of the experiences that I have had teaching, in particular the school I taught at last year. Last year I taught at a school which was attended by predominately African American students. Many of the children?s experiences that Ferguson described were extremely familiar to me. I thought that she did an excellent job of illustrating the ways that cultural and social reproduction is espoused in schools.
The descriptions of the forms of discipline within schools and the ways in which teachers are expected to regulate discipline were very familiar to me. In fact this book addressed the very reasons that it was hard for me to be a teacher within our current education system. The job description of ?normalizer? did not fit my personality. The pressure that I felt from the principal of my school was very much in line with the following quote from page 43.
One of the systemic pressures making for more oppressive, punitive relations for African American children is the fear that white middle-class families will increasingly pull their children out of the public school and send them to private schools. Pressure is felt by the student specialist and ?Jail Keeper? to contain, suppress, and conceal damaging behavior that could contribute to the school?s reputation as a hostile environment.
This pressure in my school was not limited to the people who had the specific job description of disciplinarian (which there were three of, not including the principal), it was put onto every teacher within the school.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bad Boys Review April 22, 2006
I was excited to begin reading this book and to learn how the school system unproportionately suspended and disciplined African American males. I was not expecting to learn how the author related the concept of masculinity and discipline into cause and effect paradigm. Even though this class and other sociological classes have taught me to think for myself, ask questions, and expand on concepts presented to me, I am in agreement with the theories and evidence that the author, Ann Arnett Ferguson, presents in her book.

The book begins with an introduction of the community that Rosa Parks Elementary School belongs to. Ferguson is conducting her research here for her doctorate. She has many forms of observing and gathering data needed for her thesis. Sometimes she is a "fly on the wall", a quiet observer. Other times Ferguson is more involved in participant groups, tutoring, and one-on-one interviews. She gathers the most information and insights through her interviews with the children that attend the school and their families. She credits the interview sessions as a valuable way to let the children ask her questions, gain her trust, and for her to develop a deeper understanding of her own strengths and weaknesses and those of her interviewees.

After observing the pupils of the school in the hallways, after school tutoring sessions, and inside the classroom, Ferguson makes an important discovery that becomes the foundation of her research. Her breakthrough came when she stumbled upon two small rooms in the school. These rooms provided discipline, punishment, and seclusion for students who were not following the classroom or school rules. The first room, used for minor infractions, was known throughout the population of the students as "The Punishing Room".
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read! April 18, 2006
By Lolita
Being in the education field, I had very high expectations for the book, Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity by Anne Ferguson. My expectations were met with great success. I went at this book with a very critical standpoint looking to argue as much as I could and to find faults in the writing. I fell short on many accounts. To take such a broad topic as to why African American males had a higher rate of being labeled as troublemakers and research it was a great feat. Ferguson does a wonderful job of backing up all of her observations and arguments with specific events that she witnessed throughout the duration of her study. She goes on to give even greater credibility to her arguments by listing amazing footnotes with many other studies and books that back up her statements.

The main reoccurring topics throughout the book were the way that African American males' actions were very quick to be adultificated and different attempts at normalizing various actions. The boys were split up by administration as "Troublemakers" and "Schoolboys". The "Troublemakers" were the ones that faculty members would say were going nowhere accept to jail. These are the students that Ferguson set out to understand. The book does a wonderful job of taking each chapter as a separate argument. Ferguson uses the initial chapter to tell what point it is that she is attempting to convey, what her reasons were to look at the topic, a detailed writing of what the exact message is and leaving no loose ends. She then follows up any forms of doubt or argumentation by using field notes to give exact events and conversations that prove her argument.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Lame Blame Problems
This book was near total trash, certainly not worth the time. The author simply blames all the problems of black male youth education on a racist society. Read more
Published 10 months ago by John Warner
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor Condition
The book was sold as "fair condition" but the book has writing on EVERY page. If that was how the seller described then I would have bought else where. Disappointed.
Published 11 months ago by motoxsarah
1.0 out of 5 stars completely biased
she contradicts herself often and come of as blaming all teachers of being racist, and that accounts for all the discrepancy in education.
Published on June 6, 2012 by Katie
5.0 out of 5 stars The realities of our failing education system
Incredible, painful, informative and affirming - are the gamut of emotions this book will wring from you. Read more
Published on February 6, 2011 by Paula T. Sizemore
5.0 out of 5 stars The Good Son isn't Black
The scarcity of this topic shows what an aversion society has to dealing with the number of issues within black America. The silence is deafening. Read more
Published on June 12, 2009 by Patricia B. Ross
5.0 out of 5 stars great scholarship!
Two chapters from this book were required reading in a doctoral class I'm taking. Not only were they very helpful in constructing a more complete understanding of the dominant... Read more
Published on November 9, 2008 by Anna
4.0 out of 5 stars just in time
I got the book just in time and it was in the promised condition. I would buy from this vendor again.
Published on June 30, 2008 by T. Robles
2.0 out of 5 stars One serious flaw
I have one major point of contention with this author. What I will be referencing is found in her field notes on ODD and chapter seven. Read more
Published on June 27, 2008 by T. Madsen
2.0 out of 5 stars Stereotypes and archetypes are always two-way deals...
When do the black kids take responsibility for their behavior? How can the school help them to do this? To be sure, it is shameful for schools to overly punish black youngsters. Read more
Published on June 5, 2006 by Stephen Armstrong
3.0 out of 5 stars Bad Boys
Bad Boys, a social science book, is about how African American males are perceived in the school system by school faculty. Read more
Published on May 3, 2006 by Carissa Graf
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