Many advocates of all-black male schools (ABMSs) - whose supporters include everyone from the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg - argue that such institutions counter black boys’ racist emasculation in white, “overly” feminine classrooms. In making this claim, advocates of ABMSs simultaneously challenge racism and perpetuate antifeminism. In a Classroom of their Own: The Intersection of Race and Feminist Politics in All-Black Male Schools (Keisha Lindsay ’92) details the complex politics of ABMSs by situating these schools within efforts at neoliberal education reform and within specific conversations about "endangered” black males, a “boy crisis” in education, and the intersection of race and gender.
The emergence of ABMSs reveals that intersectionality, long considered feminist, is in fact a politically fluid analytical framework. As such, it represents a potent tool for advancing many political agendas, including those which champion antiracist education for black boys while obscuring black girls’ own race and gender-based oppression in school. ABMSs are also an important departure point for theorizing the particular means by which black people can form antiracist and feminist coalitions - even when they conceptualize their experience of oppression in ways that threaten bridge building. Such coalitions are possible when blacks critically assess each other’s experiential claims. They are also possible when black people assume that good public schools foster black self-determination and prepare black children, of all genders, to evaluate what life in a democratic polity looks like.
Keisha Lindsay is an associate professor of Gender & Women’s Studies and Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.