It should go without saying, but all Black boys are unique. Each is a complex mix of talents, gifts and desires, and each wants to be loved, supported and valued.
Here are 5 more ways to support Black boys:
1. Encourage children to be friends with black boys. Know their names. Invite them to your homes/playdates. Watching friendships drop off from 4th/5th grade, then middle and hardly any in high outside school is heartbreaking.
2. Not all black boys like rap/hip hop, play sports. They play musical instruments, nerd out, binge-read books, have rich emotional lives. Open with questions that don’t feed the stereotype.
3. Bring them into your circles by “making horseshoes.” You become who you see. Many Black boys aspire to fields where they personally know no one in them. No family. No friends. No community. When you want to be a meteorologist, knowing one through introductions leads to so much more than reading an article ever can. Be there.
4. Advocate for the outliers. Black boys are often woefully underrepresented in gifted programs, with maybe less than a handful in a school program. A smattering of 1 or 2 in an AP Class or IB program with hundreds of other students. They are not okay. There is a tremendous focus, and rightly so, on Black boys who need academic support, yet the ones who are striving at the other end have needs and often neglected as having “made it”.
5. Encourage accurate representation. When you are a Black boy outlier, you probably haven’t met (m)any others like you because there’s been so few that share your interests and experience. Outliers probably haven’t seen (m)any like them in media or in-person either. Conversely, they’ve endured many negative misrepresentations of them that have somehow pushed through.
Sandra Turner is a Black mother of three boys and member of the Building Boys community.