EVIDENCE FOR THE FIELD
The deadly challenges of raising African American boys: Navigating the controlling image of the "thug" Author: Dawn Marie Dow, Ph.D.
Purpose: How does the controlling image of the “thug” influence the concerns mothers have for their sons and how they parent their sons?
Methods: 60 in-depth interviews with African American middle-class and upper-middle-class mothers
Results: Mothers' concerns included (1) preventing their sons from being perceived as criminals, (2) protecting their sons’ physical safety, and (3) ensuring they did not enact the “thug". Mothers believed being perceived as a "thug" made their sons vulnerable in various social contexts. Furthermore, they used four strategies to navigate the challenges they and their sons confronted related to the thug image: (1) experience, (2) environment management, (3) image, and (4) emotion management. Experience and environment management were directed at managing characteristics of their sons’ regular social interactions, whereas image and emotion management were directed at managing their sons’ appearance.
Conclusions: This study illuminates mothers' concerns, as well as the strategies mothers use to prepare their sons to address gendered racism through managing the expression of their masculinity, racial identity, and class status. Read the full article here.