Lynn, M. (2001). Portraits in black: Storying the lives and the pedagogies of black men educators
The social conditions for Black men in the United States are often described and studied from a variety of perspectives. Moreover, there are a litany of studies, research reports and books that examine the failure of urban schools to educate the majority of Black children in the United States. Few studies, though, have examined the role of Black men educators in urban schools. Studies that do explore the experiences, perspectives and teaching characteristics of Black teachers tend to ignore the voices of Black men. This study addresses these problems by utilizing Portraiture as a way in which to examine the life stories, experiences and pedagogies of six Black men teachers who work in three schools—an elementary, middle and high school—that serve the largely Black working class community of Lancaster in South Los Angeles. Portraiture is a qualitative method that blends art, science and social critique to story the lives of racially subordinated peoples. Intersectionality, a central principle of Critical Race Theory—an analysis of race and racism in the law and in society—is used as a way in which to examine the links between race, gender and class oppression for Black men educators. The research occurred in three phases. First, screening interviews with the population of Black men teachers in all three schools were conducted. Six participants were then chosen to participate in (1) a series of interviews that examined their life stories and views on teaching and the community, (2) a series of on-going classroom observations that examined the social justice relevance of their teaching, and (3) final focus group that sought to gain their perspectives on the research process. In addition, the researcher acted as a participant observer in both the community and the schools selected for the study. Overall the findings draw important links Black men’s experiences with marginalization, their commitment to African American children, and their ability to conceptualize and practice a liberatory pedagogy.