“I See Trayvon Martin”: What Teachers Can Learn from the Tragic Death of a Young Black Male

Abstract

The goal of this article is to examine the racially hostile environment of U.S. public schooling towards Black males. Drawing on the work of Foucault (Discipline and punish. The birth of the prison, Penguin Books, London, 1977; Michel Foucault: beyond structuralism and hermeneutics, The Harvester Press, Brighton, 1982) regarding the construction of society’s power relations and Bourdieu’s (Power and ideology in education, Oxford University Press, New York, 1977; Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education. Greenwood Press, New York, 1986; The logic of practice. Polity Press, Cambridge, 1990) work concerning how beliefs are established, this article demonstrates how power operates within schools alongside racism, racial profiling, and gender stereotypes to criminalize Black males. Additionally, the utilization of the theoretical lenses of populational reasoning (Popkewitz in Struggling for the soul: the politics of schooling and the construction of the teacher, Teachers College Press, New York, 1998), conceptual narrative (Somers and Gibson in Social theory and the politics of identity, Blackwell, Cambridge, 1994), and critical race theory (Delgado and Stefancic 2001) links the common narrative and the cultural memory of Black males to the death of Trayvon Martin and the treatment of Black males in schools.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    “A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony” [Florida Statute 776.013(3)]. Martin was not involved in any criminal activity the night of the shooting.

  2. 2.

    Hip Hop is the music and culture that reflects the social, political, and economic realities of urban youth expressed through rap, dance, art, deejaying, and the knowledge of knowing one’s community (Love 2013a, b).

  3. 3.

    For further reading on the Georgia math worksheet, see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/08/examples-of-slavery-in-school-worksheet_n_1192512.html. For further reading on the Ohio slave auction story, see http://newsone.com/1071875/niko-burton-mock-slave-auctio/.

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Correspondence to Bettina L. Love.

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Love, B.L. “I See Trayvon Martin”: What Teachers Can Learn from the Tragic Death of a Young Black Male. Urban Rev 46, 292–306 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-013-0260-7

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Keywords

  • Black males
  • Racism
  • Teacher
  • Education
  • Hip Hop