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Reimagining the Brilliance of Boys of Color: Inspiring Professionals Dedicated to Empowering the Social-Emotional and Academic Development of Our Youth

  • William James College 1 Wells Avenue Newton, MA, 02459 United States (map)


Sponsored by the Concentration on Children and Families of Adversity and Resilience, School Psychology Department, and Center for Multicultural and Global Mental Health at William James College

Description: The brilliance, creativity, and strengths of boys of color have been unrecognized by our educational, justice, and behavioral health care systems. This conference offers opportunities for professionals within these systems to be inspired and encouraged to celebrate the contributions of boys of color. The goal of this conference is to expand our perceptions of boys of color by exploring their varied developmental trajectories and contextual factors that impact those pathways. Attendees will identify ways to dismantle historically shaped negative perceptions of boys of color. Finally, they will explore institutional and community-based barriers to boys of color’s socioemotional and academic success. 

Boys of color in the United States are disproportionately subjected to entrenched sociocultural stressors shaped by historical marginalization. Academically, they are significantly more likely to fail classes, be referred to special education programs, and suspended and/or expelled from school. Such academic failures have been attributed to cultural divergence, negative racial stereotyping, and racial discrimination. Furthermore, boys and young men of color are disproportionately involved in the criminal/juvenile justice system. Research suggests that a significant portion of these adolescents have undiagnosed and untreated mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicidality. These unaddressed psychological and mental health issues in childhood are associated, in adulthood, with higher rates of academic problems, incarceration, substance abuse, relationship problems, and unemployment. The conference builds on extant knowledge of risk factors for boys of color to create a paradigm shift which focuses attention on their frequently under-appreciated protective and resiliency factors. The conference explores the unrecognized strengths and talents inherent in boys of color. In addition, available assets in the families, schools, faith groups, and communities will be identified. Conference sessions are diverse in format and include (a) panel sessions comprised of community members, educators, and mental health providers, and (b) formal presentations by academic and mental health professionals on school, faith, and community-based interventions for boys of color. Each panel and presentation session includes time for both presentation and discussion

Objectives: Conference attendees will: 1. Identify the critical impact of family, faith, school, and community on the development of boys of color. 2. Increase their knowledge about privilege, prejudice, discrimination, and oppression, and the impact of these on boys of color. 3. Demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of their personal and professional contributions to social challenge and success experienced by boys of color. 4. Identify possible solutions to address/reduce disparities experienced by boys of color, including their personal role and responsibility to promote effective change.