Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

First Advisor

Qiana J. Whitted


Historically, the black male has had the world at his back, from the moment he stepped onto American soil, kidnapped and enslaved, the pressures to be a “good man” as a student or eventually as a father, to the need to “be somebody” as a proud American citizen, a human. In my dissertation, I evaluate further the position of the adolescent black male through the lens of young adult literature. The framework of a young adult novel is grounded in the experience of youth and adolescence rather than in adulthood and its nostalgic tendencies. The young black male experience and his dealings with becoming a man are multifaceted. The varied perspectives of this figure and his lived experiences should be written about in diverse ways. In this dissertation, I look at how we write about young black males. I focus on 1) the power of being permitted to exist as a young black male 2) the allowances afforded to young black males concerning expressions of pain after witnessing and the processes of healing from trauma 3) the conventions of writing police violence-centered middle-grade texts 4) the discovery and allowances of expression of sexuality in young black indigenous people of color 5) the father figure and his many forms within the black community. My dissertation will piece apart America’s seemingly insatiable appetite for black male death by looking at the patterns of writing the black boy alongside criticisms of how scholarship frames masculinity as it is interwoven with blackness.


© 2023, Chelsea Danielle Rogers

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