Reel Black Masculinities: Using Film and Media Literacy to Provide Opportunities for White Female Future Teachers to See Black Males Through a Culturally Responsive Lens

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Young, Regina Allison
Wiseman, Donna L
The purpose of this study was to document how popular film was used to provide opportunities for future teachers to explore their perceptions of Black masculinities and the lived experiences of young Black men. A case study design was used and data was gathered through a perceptions survey, interviews, observations, a focus group, and analysis of written reflections and computer-mediated communication (Merriam, 1998). Purposeful sampling was used to select two instructors from a large, public university in the North East and they were observed and interviewed. Boyz N the Hood and Finding Forrester were used in a diversity course, secondary English methods course and an adolescent literature course. A third instructor from a private university in the North East was interviewed regarding Stand and Deliver in a course on culturally relevant math strategies. Fifty-eight future teachers also participated in the study. The majority of participants were White females and therefore representative of the current teacher workforce (Swartz, 2003; National Center for Educational Statistics, 2003). The interpretational analysis of the data used a culturally responsive lens (Gay & Kirkland, 2003; Kea, Campbell-Whatley & Richards 2004) and a media literacy framework (Kellner & Share, 2005). Analysis of the data from the three instructors indicated that each instructor used film in different ways. Film was used (1) to inspire and encourage new teachers to teach by providing a model of a successfully implemented, culturally relevant, math lesson, (2) primarily as literature providing an opportunity for critical analysis of a non-print text and a discussion of Black male masculinities and (3) to educate students about stereotypes and their perceptions of young Black men. The data from the students indicated that (1) future teachers felt safe from criticism when they were allowed to reflect online; (2) without guidance from the instructor or critical literacy questions students were able to avoid discussions of race; (3) film provided a multi-layered image that impacted the students and; (4) cultural critical consciousness was difficult to assess and measure. Finally, a framework for using film emerged from exploring the teaching strategies used in this study.