Averil Clark. Mandingo, Willie Horton, & the Pretty Boy: How black men's bodies structure acheivement in education, career, romance, and family

Monday, February 2, 2015 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall

Mandingo, Willie Horton, & the Pretty Boy: How black men’s bodies structure achievement in education, career, romance, and family

This report on preliminary analyses describes data collected during open-ended interviews with middle class black men on their achievement of education, career, and family outcomes. Data from black men who have earned 4-year college degrees or served for more than six years in military, police, or firefighter service occupations indicates at least four ways in which they invoked descriptions of their bodies to explain opportunities and constraints faced over the life course.  Such men most often described the reactions others had to their size and complexion when explaining why and how they negotiated for or were constrained from involvement in particular educational, employment, and romantic activities. The report concludes with a discussion of the symbolic role played by racialized and gendered bodies in the reproduction of multiple social hierarchies.     

Averil Y. Clarke is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Suffolk University.  She studies demography, culture, and inequality and writes about race, class, and gender inequality in the romantic, sexual, and family formation arenas.  Recent work includes a book (Inequalities of Love:  College Educated Black Women and the Barriers to Romance and Family, 2011, Duke University Press) and a co-authored paper on “Intersectionality and social explanation in social science research” (2013, DuBois Review 10(2): 349-363).  In this work and in her ongoing investigation of men’s achievement, she remains committed to the strategic use of both quantitative and qualitative methods and the bridging of multiple theoretical traditions in order toidentify and improve scholarly understandings of processes of inequality-making.