Black Boys Can Make It
How They Overcome the Obstacles to University in the UK and USA

Paper: 978 1 85856 431 9 / $32.95
Published: November 2008  

Publisher: Trentham Books
168 pp., 6 3/4" x 9 3/4"
This book dispels the myth that Black boys are synonymous with underachievement.

It demonstrates how many progress into higher education, albeit against the odds, and offers solutions for policy and practice. There is a plethora of research focusing on the underachievement of Black boys. But little attention has been given to their positive achievement until this author’s research on both sides of the Atlantic. .

The book follows black male students in the USA and UK who have successfully accessed higher education— at both elite universities (Harvard and Oxford) and less selective institutions. It sets out to establish the extent to which they have been exposed to the factors known to correlate with the underachievement of Black male youths, and to identify the factors that have led to their educational success and influenced their access to, and choice of universities.

Part One sets the educational scene in each country. Part Two looks at the obstacles the students encountered, covering social class; parental social capital; racism and racial identity; and addressing the boys’ own negative attitudes and behavior. Part Three unravels the factors leading to success, devoting attention to parental roles; positive encounters with schools, teachers and community; the influence of church; and the students’ personal qualities and navigational smarts. Part Four reviews the boys’ processes of choice and application to university and concludes with implications for educational policy and practice.

Here is a book that can be used both as guide to policy development, and as a practical tool for use by parents, teachers and Black boys themselves to help gain access to higher education.

Table of Contents:
Acknowledgements; Foreword by Lord Herman Ouseley; Preface PART 1: SETTING THE SCENE 1) Introduction; PART 2: OBSTACLES OVERCOME 2) The lens of social class; 3) The parents' involvement; 4) Racism and racial identity; 5) Boys with attitude; PART 3 UNRAVELLING THE FACTORS THAT GENERATE SUCCESS 6) How parents steer their sons towards educational success; 7) Teachers in schools and community projects; 8) Religion and its effect; 9) Personal qualities and navigational smarts; dPART 4: PROGRESSING INTO HIGHER EDUCATION 10) Going to University; PART 5: CONCLUSION 11) Implications for policy and practice; Appendix; Bibliography; Index

Reviews & Endorsements:
"Challenging the narrative that black males do not or cannot achieve academic success, this book documents the success of black men in higher education in the United States and the United Kingdom in higher education. The book seeks to examine factors that contributed to the students’ achievements, as well as obstacles that could have derailed their education."
- Diverse
“Adding to the body of literature that reveals patterns of success for black males; this work is full of richly textured stories that demonstrate how social class, parents, racial identity and personal attitudes impact opportunity structures and a sense of self for black male students in college. Byfield raises the larger cultural context of the UK and US demonstrating similarities and differences across the groups. A readable and enjoyable book offering insights to researchers, practitioners, parent and students. An important read for those who seek to understand the diversity of the black male experience!"
- Sharon Fries-Britt, Associate Professor, Dept. Educational Policy and Leadership, University of Maryland, College Park