Supporting Black Men & Boys In Formal Education

Although it is presumed that all young Canadians of different racial, gender, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds benefit from the Canadian education system, certain youth still face systemic and institutional barriers in formal learning. Young Black boys who enter the Canadian formal education system at the elementary level, leading into post-secondary learning, encounter moments of anti-Blackness, which at times is coupled with classism and gender biases from many educators, making their lived experiences in Canada Education institutions difficult.

The constant racial discrimination not only interrupts their learning ability but also makes many of these youth feel that they are not smart enough to belong in formal learning institutions. Many educators view young Black men and boys as troublemakers leading to no valuable support for these young men and boys to achieve learning success. Compounded with many educators’ lack of cultural competency in understanding multi-faceted Black experiences among Black men and boys, this leads to a misunderstanding and misconception of Black masculinities. A 2021 Canadian study on low-income Black young men and boys revealed that due to the stereotypical understandings of these young people’s masculinity, coupled with their race, many of these youth drop out of secondary school or barely complete high school. Many who finish high school have faced so many disruptions to their learning due to the anti-Blackness and gender biases that they leave high school with low comprehension levels.

What can be done to support young Black men and boys during their formal education paths?

The reality for Black men is that the Barbershop is a safe haven for many Black men to feel a sense of respectability in a safe environment. On August 22nd, 2023, The Barbershop Talk Series event will explore ways to support Black young men and boys, and their families, while they embark on the 2023-2024 school year. The program seeks to recognize the importance of paying attention to Black men and boys who encounter anti-Blackness and gender biases in formal learning institutions, which complicate their ways of learning.

This event will encourage our Black community and non-Black communities to speak with one another while asking folks to appreciate our vulnerabilities. The ask from everyone is to establish and maintain solidarity among people in our communities with those of different races, ethnicities, sexualities, gender, ages and any social characteristics a person subscribes with.