"I'm going to prove somebody right": Deconstructing African American male identity in mathematics and science

Kimi L Wilson


African American males’ participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors and careers is often explained through a deficit lens, focusing on decontextualized academic achievement statistics that suggests persistent underperformance. This article describes how one African American male student at a Research I university developed a mathematics and science identity in K-12 schooling and how this formed identity impacted his participation in STEM at the post-secondary level. Evidence from this study suggests when developing African American males’ identity in math and science, policy makers and educators must be aware of inequities embedded in K-12 and postsecondary institutions that encroach persistence and achievement. Findings indicate the need for societal and institutional reframing of the culture of math and science in the United States.

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