(Extra)Ordinary Young People, (Extra)Ordinary Demands: Portraits of Four Black Men With the Baltimore Algebra Project
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CitationNikundiwe, Thomas. 2017. (Extra)Ordinary Young People, (Extra)Ordinary Demands: Portraits of Four Black Men With the Baltimore Algebra Project. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractAs long as there have been Black people in the United States, they have struggled for the recognition of their full humanity. From the insurrection of slaves to the organized efforts of the Civil Rights Movement, historians have documented the ways in which Black individuals and Black organizations made a “demand on society” (Moses & Cobb, 2001) to be treated as full human beings with full human and civil rights. Young people continue the historical struggle by making demands on society today for their rights to safe housing, affordable transportation, youth jobs, and quality public education.
This is a study of four young, Black men, former members of the Baltimore Algebra Project (B.A.P.), who have made a demand on society. The scholarship on Black males in education is overwhelmingly focused on documenting pathology, collectively painting a picture that is too flat, lacking the depth of “complex personhood” (Tuck, 2010). I turn to portraiture as my methodology for its nuanced focus on goodness and the complexity of the human experience to ask four questions: What role, if any, did the personal history of four Black men in the B.A.P. play in their ability and willingness to make a demand on society? What role, if any, did participation in the B.A.P. have on their ability and willingness to make a demand on society? How do these participants understand their role in society as actors on society?
The study ultimately finds that the young men have the requisite skills, knowledge, dispositions, and commitment to liberation. They are organizers, teachers, philosophers, poets, mathematicians, artists, problem-solvers, fathers, partners and leaders. But they do not possess the material privileges that allow them to experiment with employment, to make mistakes, or to choose an activist lifestyle without regard for economic realities. In the absence of certain privileges, each young man is trying to find a way to live as a constitutional person, a full human being committed to the full humanness of other beings. Each is working hard to find spaces and people with whom they can experience the freedom and power of their B.A.P. days.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33052841