How have Black boys and young men mattered within society and schools, and how can educational stakeholders formulate contexts for them to do so more fully, robustly or comprehensively? Drawing from social-psychological conceptualizations and the author’s own prior theorizing, this essay investigates how Black boys and young men matter to those within society and schools by summoning historical antecedents, empirical research and present-day examples. Three types of mattering emerge from this investigation. Marginal mattering is realized through societal and educational practices that criminalize, dismiss and propel Black boys and young men into school and social failure. Partial mattering signals the valuation of some of their skills and abilities (e.g. often athletic, artistic and heroic in nature) and those which leave racist systems unchallenged. In activating both Afropessimism and Afrofuturism, the author imagines through and beyond their present binds and instead advocates that stakeholders must develop a creative, radical and future-oriented imaginary for the robust, aspirational and comprehensive mattering of Black boys and young men.
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