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Who Are Our Community Helpers? Black Boys and Policing

The claim as a nation, we have reckoned with racism, committing to anti-racist practices that embody values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice has been promoted widely following the events of 2020. While these ideals on the surface are laudable, Black families are less convinced by these claims as they continue to grapple with the fears of raising a Black boy in a society in which they are watched and not welcome. This surveillance manifest in the 'adultification' and 'criminalization' of Black boys as early as preschool. Historically, this surveillance has contributed to long-standing mistrust and alienation between Black citizens and the over-policing in their communities and, by extension, schools, and classrooms. With this reality in mind, how does a curriculum that many early childhood educators consider essential for children to know and understand the role of community helpers also become a source of trauma for Black boys? In this workshop, participants will explore this question and gain new ways to rethink, challenge, and reimagine the "Community Helpers" curriculum, explicitly involving Black boys and policing. Examples that humanize and reimagine the experiences, perspectives, and realities of Black boyhood and community helpers toward creating safe and equitable environments will be shared. 



Dr. Brian L. Wright

Brian L. Wright, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor, Program Coordinator of Early Childhood Education in the Department of Instruction & Curriculum Leadership in the College of Education & Coordinator of the Middle School Cohort of the African American Male Academy at the University of Memphis. Dr. Wright teaches undergraduate- and graduate-level courses that include, but are not limited to, culture and learning, indigenous and decolonized philosophies/epistemologies, critical pedagogies, masculinities in urban schools. His research examines high-achieving African American boys in urban schools (P-12), racial-ethnic identity development of boys, STEM and African American boys (P-12), African American males as early childhood teachers, and teacher identity development. Dr. Wright has published articles in Urban Education, Theory Into Practice, and The Journal of Negro Education, to name a few. He has co-authored articles that have appeared in Young Children, Teaching Young Children, EXCHANGE, Childhood Explorer, Gifted Child Today, Handbook on Gifted Education, Psychology Forum, Journal of African American Males in Education, Boyhood Studies & others. Dr. Wright is the author of the award-winning (2018 NAME Philip C. Chinn Book Award), bestseller book, The Brilliance of Black Boys: Cultivating School Success in the Early Grades (2018 –publisher: Teachers College Press, Columbia University--

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