ERIC Number: EJ1104689
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
"Wading in the Water"
Obel-Omia, Michael C.
Independent School, v75 n4 Sum 2016
What? How can you keep me safe?" Those words tore through this author as he sat with eight black boys from the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades in March 2015. They were planning to discuss a novel, Scott Mebus' "Gods of Manhattan," when he reassured the boys that he could keep them safe. Seared in their hearts are the tragic events of the last two years. Eric Garner, an asthmatic black man, placed in an illegal chokehold on Staten Island for selling loose cigarettes and killed by NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, in spite of his pleas, "I can't breathe!" Michael Brown, 18, gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri, after an encounter with Officer Darren Wilson and left to lie in the street for four and a half hours. Tamir Rice, 12, immediately shot while playing in a park when police officers arrived after hearing reports that a little boy was waving a toy gun. There are more, too many more victims, and these murders lead to a wave of disease in the community: Young black boys feel terrified, uneasy, unsafe. A number of faculty members lamented that the black boys in their classes felt upset and unsettled. A professor of education at Rhode Island College suggested beginning a student book group, to allow the students to express themselves in an intellectually stimulating, caring, safe environment. The idea: Students could focus their energy on the literature, lose themselves in the characters, distract themselves from their present anxieties, and eventually slide into conversations about their fears. As a result, Obel-Omina formed The Black Boys Reading Group as a way to elicit dialogue from black middle school boys about race violence in America.
Descriptors: Middle School Students, Race, Violence, Males, Reading Programs, Group Discussion, Critical Theory
National Association of Independent Schools. 1620 L Street NW Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-793-6701; Tel: 202-973-9700; Fax: 202-973-9790; Web site: http://www.nais.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A