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Getting in Trouble: Regulating the Self

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cross-posted from Double Consciousness.

I’m at Carlo’s house right now and I was browsing a book he was reading called Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinty. [1]

In it I found this illuminating quote that Carlo had highlighted:

Adult descriptions of infractions on the referrals often invoked their reading of the tone of the exchange as expressed through children’s body language…girl received after-school detention for a “sassy mouth, standing with attitude, walking away when I called her in the 6th grade line at lunch.” The same girl got two days of in-house detention for “disruption in class. disrespectual [sic] and defiant when spoken to. Mouthy and had an attitude.” A white girl was sent to cool off in the Punishing Room after charged with “defiance; flapping & pointing; slamming drawers, called Sharon a bitch.”

What is most significant for us here is that reading of “defiant attitude” are often deciphered through a racialized key…

Notes

1. Ann Arnett Ferguson, Bad Boys: Public School in the Making of Black Masculinity (Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2004),67-68.

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