I Can't Breathe: The African American Male With Emotional Disabilities in Education

I Can't Breathe: The African American Male With Emotional Disabilities in Education

Richard D. Williams (American University, USA) and April J. Lisbon (Spotsylvania County Public Schools, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4093-0.ch003
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This chapter is a critical analysis using African American Male Theory (AAMT) to examine and critique the status of the African American male with an emotional disturbance in the American education complex. This chapter expands upon AAMT by applying a critical lens to various AAMT tenants. A vignette of Ahmad, a young African American male, shows the injustice endured by many African American male students. A review of literature on the mental health of African American students and equity in education provides for a rich discourse. This chapter also provides implications for further discussion and recommendations for practitioners.
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Conceptual Framework

AAMT was established by Bush and Bush in 2013, “Introducing African American Male Theory (AAMT)” in the Journal of African American Males in Education. The theory advances of six tenets summarized as (a) using an ecological approach to understanding the individual and collective experiences, behaviors, outcomes, events, phenomena, and trajectory of African American males; (b) there is a uniqueness of being male and of African descent; (c) African culture, consciousness, and biology continues to influence African American males; (d) African American males are resilient and resistant; (e) Race, racism, classism, and sexism have a profound impact on African American males; and (d) AAMT should be used in the pursuit of social justice (Bush V. & Bush, 2013).

To further implement AAMT in the literature, Bush and Bush (2013) noted that the AMMT model is founded in Bronfenbrenner's interconnected environmental systems theory. With this foundation, AAMT developed a 6-level ecological system. In the heart of the systems lies the microsystem, divided into an inner which represents personality, sexual orientation, beliefs, etc., and the outer which includes family, community, school, etc. Separating the micro from the mesosystem is the first instance of a subsystem. This subsystem includes supernatural and spirit, and unconscious archetypes. The mesosystem includes the interactions between the inner and outer microsystem and the first subsystem. The exosystem holds concepts such as unemployment and access to health care, leading to the macrosystem of cultural hegemony, Black nationalism, laws and policies. The fifth system is the chronosystem, which encompasses (de)segregation, and change in family structure. The sixth and final system is a second instance of the subsystem in which Bush and Bush (2013) allow for 'unknown non-matter.'

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