Stakes Is High

Trials, Lessons, and Triumphs in Young Black Men's Educational Journeys

By Derrick R. Brooms

Subjects: Higher Education, African American Studies, Gender Studies, Social Context Of Education, Sociology
Series: SUNY series, Critical Race Studies in Education
Hardcover : 9781438486536, 314 pages, December 2021
Paperback : 9781438486543, 314 pages, July 2022

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Table of contents

an invocation . . . for Black young men


1. "They don't give us a chance to be us": Black Boys' Sense Making and Theorizing about Their Lives

Part I: Secondary School Experiences

2. "I needed to get out": Educational Desires and the Urban Neighborhood

3. "I always knew that I was smart": Personal Perspectives and Educational Pursuits

4. "Getting the preparation and knowledge about college": Schooling and College-Going Support

Part II: Collegiate Experiences

5. "I knew I was gon' struggle": Stories and Expectations of College Struggles

6."I never wanted to give up, but . . .": Navigating and Coping with Challenging Experiences

7. "I didn't have no Plan B": Staying Focused on Collegiate Goals

8. "I'm creating my own story": Young Black Men Enacting and Embodying Agency

Part III: Lessons

9. "Sometimes the odds are just stacked against you": Reassessing the Challenges That Make Education High-Stakes

10. Looking Forward: Addressing the Stakes for Black Boys and Young Men


A rich, authentic account of eight young Black men's experiences on their paths to and through college.


Drawing on interviews that span over seven years, Derrick R. Brooms provides detailed accounts of a select group of Black young men's pathways from secondary school through college. As opposed to the same old stories about young Black men, Brooms offers new narratives that speak to Black boys' and young men's agency, aspirations, hopes, and possibilities. Even as they feel contested and constrained because they are Black and male, these young men anchor their educational desires within their families and communities. Critical to their journeys are the many challenges they face in public discourse and societal projections, in their home neighborhoods and schooling community, in educational environments, and in their health and well-being. In charting these challenges and the high stakes of the trials, lessons, and triumphs they experience, Brooms shows that we cannot understand the educational journeys of Black boys and young men without accounting for the full sociocultural contexts of their lives and how they make sense of those contexts.

Derrick R. Brooms is Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is the author of Being Black, Being Male on Campus: Understanding and Confronting Black Male Collegiate Experiences, also published by SUNY Press.


“This book is unique in that is offers the readers an opportunity to learn the experiences of eight African American young men’s educational journey in a nonjudgmental assessment. Too often, African American boys, young men, and men are viewed through a stereotypical and dysfunctional lens. Brooms humanizes them by allowing them to tell their stories; the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautifully resilient.” — William A. Smith, University of Utah