Skip to main content
×
×
Home

BLACK MALE EXCEPTIONALISM?: The Problems and Potential of Black Male-Focused Interventions1

  • Paul Butler (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

“Black male exceptionalism” is the premise that African American men fare more poorly than any other group in the United States. The discourse of Black male exceptionalism presents African American men as an “endangered species.” Some government agencies, foundations, and activists have responded by creating “Black male achievement” programs. There are almost no corresponding “Black female achievement” programs. Yet empirical data does not support the claim that Black males are burdened more than Black females. Without attention to intersectionality, Black male achievement programs risk obscuring Black females and advancing patriarchal values. Black male achievement programs also risk reinforcing stereotypes that African American males are violent and dangerous. An intersectional approach would create space for Black male focused interventions, but require parity for Black female programs.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Professor Paul Butler, Georgetown University Law Center, 600 New Jersey Avenue NW Washington, DC 20001. E-mail: paul.butler@law.georgetown.edu
Footnotes
Hide All
1

This article was presented as a work-in-progress at Kimberlé Crenshaw's seminar on Intersectionality at Columbia Law School, Georgetown Law School, and the African-American Policy Institute Social Justice Writer's Retreat. I thank the participants in those programs. Special thanks to Sara Sun Beale, Nancy Cantalupo, Devon Carbado, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Luke Harris, Issa Kohler-Hausmann, Allegra McLeod, Eloise Pasachoff, Elizabeth Ribet, Christophe Ringer, Robin West, and Verna Williams. Excellent research assistance was provided by Eric Glatt, Bradford Ham, Will McAuliffe, Sonia Tabriz, and Adi Williams.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
100 Black Men of America, Inc. Mentoring. ⟨http://www.100blackmen.org/mentoring.aspx⟩ (accessed June 28, 2013).
Alexander Michelle (2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: New Press.
Banks David and Oliveira Ana (2011a). Report to the Mayor from the Chairs. Young Men's Initiative. ⟨www.nyc.gov/html/om/pdf/2011/young_mens_initiative_report.pdf⟩ (accessed June 28, 2013).
Banks David and Oliveira Ana (2011b). Young Men's Initiative. ⟨www.nyc.gov/cgibin/misc/pfprinter.cgi?action=print&sitename=OM&p=1372162285000⟩ (accessed June 28, 2013).
Barbaro Michael and Santos Fernanda (2011). Bloomberg to Use Own Funds in Plan to Aid Minority Youth. New York Times, August 3. ⟨http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/04/nyregion/new-york-plan-will-aim-to-lift-minority-youth.html?pagewanted=all⟩ (accessed December 29, 2011).
Bennett Lerone Jr. (1983). Introduction. Ebony, August, pp. 34–36.
Bode Nicole and Fractenberg Ben (2013). Bloomberg Defends Stop and Frisk, Unloads On Inspector General Bill, And Calls NYCLU ‘Extremists’. Huffington Post, April 30. ⟨http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/30/bloomberg-stop-and-frisk_n_3186641.html⟩ (accessed July 10, 2013).
Bouchet Stacey and Hamilton Julia Hayman (2010). ‘Responsible Fatherhood’: What Do Women Have to Do With It? Open Society Foundations (blog), October 12. ⟨http://blog.soros.org/2010/10/responsible-fatherhood-what-do-women-have-to-do-with-it/⟩ (accessed June 25, 2013).
Brown Sterling A. (1980). The Collected Poems of Sterling A. Brown. New York: Harper & Row.
Cantalupo Nancy Chi (2012). Comparing Single-Sex and Reformed Co-Education: A Constitutional Analysis. San Diego Law Review, 49(3): 725789. ⟨http://ssrn.com/abstract=1940469⟩ (accessed June 27, 2013).
Carbado Devon W. (Ed.) (1999). Black Men on Race, Gender, and Sexuality. New York: New York University Press.
Coalition of Black Male Achievement Initiatives (2012). Brief for the Coalition of Black Male Achievement Initiatives in Support of Respondent as Amicus Curiae.
Cohen David S. (2009). No Boy Left Behind? Single-Sex Education and the Essentialist Myth of Masculinity. Indiana Law Journal, 84(1): 135188. ⟨http://ssrn.com/abstract=1083816⟩ (accessed June 27, 2013).
Cornwell Christopher M., Mustard David B., and Van Parys Jessica (2013). Non-cognitive Skills and the Gender Disparities in Test Scores and Teacher Assessments: Evidence from Primary School. Journal of Human Resources, 48: 236264. ⟨http://jhr.uwpress.org/content/48/1/236.full.pdf⟩ (accessed June 27, 2013).
Crenshaw Kimberlé (1989). Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1989: 139167.
Crenshaw Kimberlé (1991). Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color. Stanford Law Review, 43: 12411299.
Deas Wayne (1987). Black Issues Convention Opening. New York Times, September 6. ⟨http://www.nytimes.com/1987/09/06/nyregion/Black-issues-convention-opening.html?scp=3&sq=Black+men+endangered&st=nyt⟩ (accessed December 29, 2011).
Doe v. Wood County Board of Education, 888 F.Supp.2d. 771 779 (S.D. W. Va. 2012).
Dubois Joshua (2013). The Fight for Black Men, Newsweek, June 19. ⟨http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2013/06/19/obama-s-former-spiritual-advisor-joshua-dubois-on-the-fight-for-black-men.html⟩ (accessed August 7, 2013).
Fisher v. Texas (2013). 132 S.Ct. 1336.
Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys. ⟨http://www.gabwa.org/foundation.php⟩ (accessed July 18, 2013).
Gibbs Jewelle Taylor (Ed.) (1988). Young Black, and Male in America: An Endangered Species. Westport, CT: Auburn House Publishing Company.
Goldman Ari L. (1990). Black Minister Recruits More Black Men for the Church. New York Times, July 5. ⟨http://www.nytimes.com/1990/07/05/nyregion/Black-minister-recruits-more-men-for-the-church.html?src=pm⟩ (accessed December 29, 2011).
Goleman Daniel (1992). Black Scientists Study the ‘Pose’ of the Inner-City. New York Times, April 21. ⟨http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/21/science/Black-scientists-study-the-pose-of-the-inner-city.html?src=pm⟩ (accessed December 29, 2011).
Harris Rob (1990). NAACP Seeks Solutions to Crisis of Black Males. Los Angeles Times, July 10. ⟨http://articles.latimes.com/1990-07-10/news/mn-80_1_Black-male⟩ (accessed December 29, 2011).
Howard University Alumni Association (2011). Howard University Alumni Association's Black Male Initiative Program: Alumni Council Meeting Annual Report, May 13. ⟨http://www.howard.edu/alumni/51311/Black_Male_Initiative_AR.pdf⟩ (accessed June 25, 2013).
Huffington Post (2008). Obama's Father's Day Speech Urges Black Fathers to be More Engaged in Raising Their Children. June 23. ⟨http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/06/15/obamas-fathers-day-speech_n_107220.html?view=print&comm_ref=false⟩ (accessed December 29, 2011).
Hull Gloria T., Scott Patricia Bell, and Smith Barbara (Eds.) (1993). But Some of Us Are Brave, All the Women Are White, and All the Blacks Are Men: Black Women Studies. New York: The Feminist Press at CUNY.
Johnson John H. (1983). Publisher's Statement. Ebony, August, p. 33.
Kupenda Angela Mae (2010). Political Invisibility of Black Women: Still Suspect but No Suspect Class. Washburn Law Journal, 50: 109132.
Laubscher Leswin (2005). Toward a (De)constructive Psychology of African American Men. Journal of Black Psychology, 31: 111129.
Leavy Walter (1983). Is The Black Male An Endangered Species? Ebony, August, pp. 41–46.
Lee Felcia R. (1990). Black Men: Are They Imperiled? New York Times, June 26. ⟨http://www.nytimes.com/1990/06/26/nyregion/Black-men-are-they-imperiled.html?scp=2&sq=Black%20males%20endangered%20species&st=cse⟩ (accessed December 29, 2011).
Lewin Tamar (2011). Single-Sex Education Is Assailed in Report. The New York Times, A19, September 22. ⟨http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/23/education/23single.html⟩ (accessed June 27, 2013).
Loyola University New Orleans (2010). Law Professor Participates in John Mercer Langston Writing Workshop. Loyola at a Glance, August 6. ⟨http://www.loyno.edu/news/laag/20100806/2293⟩ (accessed December 29, 2011).
Lubinski Joseph (2003). Screw the Whales, Save Me! The Endangered Species Act, Animal Protection, and Civil Rights. Journal of Law in Society, 4: 377412.
Lynch Hayley (2010). Workshop Strengthens Black Women Law Faculty. UKNOW: University of Kentucky News. July 22. ⟨http://uknow.uky.edu/content/workshop-strengthens-Black-women-law-faculty⟩ (accessed December 29, 2011).
MacKinnon Catharine A. (1989). Toward a Feminist Theory of the State. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Martinez Tia Elena, Colby Susan J., and Quay Lisa (2010). Minding the Gap: Strategic Philanthropy and the Crisis among Black Young Men and Boys. In Edley Christopher Jr. and de Velasco Jorge Ruiz (Eds.), Changing Places: How Communities Will Improve the Health of Boys of Color, pp. 537577. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press.
Moynihan Daniel P. (1965). The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. Washington, DC: Office of Policy Planning and Research, U.S. Department of Labor.
My Brother's Keeper Fund. Thinking Man Consulting. ⟨http://thinkingmanconsulting.com/my-brothers-keeper-fund.html⟩ (accessed December 29, 2011).
National Organization for African American Women (2011). Our Mission. ⟨http://www.noaw.org/tabid/55/Default.aspx⟩ (accessed December 29, 2011).
New York State Association of Black Women Owned Enterprises, Inc.http://blackwomenenterprises.org/bwe-benefits.html⟩ (accessed July 18, 2013).
Norton Eleanor Holmes (2011). Commission on Black Men & Boys: Roundtable on Gangs, Cliques, and Crew, Tomorrow. ⟨http://www.norton.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2107&Itemid=6⟩ (accessed June 25, 2013).
Open Society Foundations (2012). Grants: Campaign for Black Male Achievement. ⟨http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/grants/campaign-black-male-achievement⟩ (accessed December 29, 2012).
Patterson Troy (2012). The Extinction of the Black Man. Slate, October 26. ⟨http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/television/2012/10/dl_hughley_s_the_endangered_list_reviewed.html⟩ (accessed June 25, 2013).
Rascoe Ayesha (2007). Howard Wants More Black Men in College. Black College Wire, February 17. ⟨http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/article_3249.shtml⟩ (accessed December 29, 2011).
Rotundo E. Anthony (2000). Attention Called to Little Boy Blues. Boca Raton News, July 9.
Sams-Abiodun Patrice (2011). The Truth About My Father. Open Society Foundations (blog), June 17. ⟨http://blog.soros.org/2011/06/the-truth-about-my-father/⟩ (accessed June 25, 2013).
Schott Foundation for Public Education (2008a). The Schott 50 State Report on Black Males & Education. ⟨http://blackboysreport.org/⟩ (2008 report no longer available on website).
Schott Foundation for Public Education (2008b). Request for Proposals: Girls' Equity Grant Opportunity. ⟨http://www.schottfoundation.org/grantees/rfp-girls-equity-work⟩ (accessed June 26, 2013).
Schott Foundation for Public Education (2010). Yes We Can: The 2010 Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education. ⟨http://schottfoundation.org/publications/schott-2010-black-male-report.pdf⟩ (accessed June 25, 2013).
Sen Rinku (2006). A Positive Future for Black Boys: Building the Movement. Cambridge, MA: Schott Foundation for Public Education. ⟨http://www.schottfoundation.org/drupal/publications/Schott_Positive%20Future_7.pdf⟩ (accessed June 25, 2013).
Sommers Christina Hoff (2000). The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Thrasher Steven (2011). Young Men's Initiative: The White Mayor's Burden. Village Voice, September 21. ⟨http://www.villagevoice.com/2011-09-21/news/young-mens-initiative-bloomberg-white-mayor-s-burden/full/⟩ (accessed June 28, 2013).
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §1681 (2006).
United Negro College Fund Institute for Capacity Building. Black Male Initiative. ⟨http://icb.uncf.org/EMP/BlackMaleAchievementWorkGroup/tabid/186/Default.aspx⟩ (accessed June 28, 2013).
U.S. Bureau of the Census (2012). Statistical Abstract of the United States. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Commerce.
U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, Discrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Prohibited 34 C.F.R. § 106.34 (2012).
Ward Stephanie Francis (2012). Boys & Girls Together? Courts Deal with a Push to End Co-Ed Classes. ABA Journal, December. ⟨http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/boys_girls_together_courts_deal_with_a_push_to_end_co-ed_classes/⟩ (accessed June 27, 2013).
Weil Amy (2008). Open Society Institute Launches Campaign to Promote Black Men and Black Boy's Achievement. Open Society Foundations. ⟨http://www.soros.org/initiatives/usprograms/focus/cbma/news/campaignlaunch_20080612⟩ (accessed December 29, 2011).
Williams Verna L. (2004). Reform or Retrenchment: Single Sex Education and the Construction of Race and Gender. Wisconsin Law Review, 2004(1): 1579.
Young Ezra (2013). Intersectionality. African American Policy Forum. ⟨http://aapf.org/2013/01/intersectionality/⟩ (accessed June 25, 2013).
Zook Kristal Brent (1995). A Manifest of Sorts for a Black Feminist Movement. New York Times Magazine, November 12, pp. 281–283.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race
  • ISSN: 1742-058X
  • EISSN: 1742-0598
  • URL: /core/journals/du-bois-review-social-science-research-on-race
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 4
Total number of PDF views: 76 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 306 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 16th January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.