In a Classroom of Their Own

The Intersection of Race and Feminist Politics in All-Black Male Schools

Antifeminist and antiracist currents within an education reform movement

Many advocates of all-black male schools (ABMS) argue that these institutions counter black boys’ racist emasculation in white, “overly” female classrooms. This argument challenges racism and perpetuates antifeminism.

Keisha Lindsay explains the complex politics of ABMS by situating these schools within broader efforts at neoliberal education reform and within specific conversations about both "endangered” black males and a “boy crisis” in education. Lindsay also demonstrates that intersectionality, long considered feminist, is in fact a politically fluid framework. As such, it represents a potent tool for advancing many political agendas, including those of ABMS supporters who champion antiracist education for black boys while obscuring black girls’ own race and gender-based oppression in school. Finally, Lindsay theorizes a particular means by which black men and other groups can form antiracist and feminist coalitions even when they make claims about their experiences that threaten bridge building. The way forward, Lindsay shows, allows disadvantaged groups to navigate the racial and gendered politics that divide them in pursuit of productive—and progressive—solutions.

Far-thinking and boldly argued, In a Classroom of Their Own explores the dilemmas faced by professionals and parents in search of equitable schooling for all students—black boys and otherwise.

"A dispassionate and well-reasoned argument. None of the other books on the 'boy crisis in schools' or 'pushout of girls in schools' or 'myths about the black male crisis' deal in such a devoted fashion with both the case of all-black male schools and philosophy."--Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, author of Waste of a White Skin: The Carnegie Corporation and the Racial Logic of White Vulnerability

"In this brilliant study of the All-Black-Male-School Movement, Keisha Lindsay makes a critical contribution to contemporary policy debates, demonstrating how mistaken notions about the immediate grasp of oppressive experience lead social justice activists seriously astray, while also theorizing political means to alter institutional practices and structures of power toward more progressive ends."--Mary Hawkesworth, author of Embodied Power: Demystifying Disembodied Politics

"For anyone who worries about the vexed relationship of race, gender, and justice in American schools, Keisha Lindsay’s A Classroom of Their Own is a revelation. Lindsay offers an intersectional interpretation of the politics of all-male black schools and builds on the work of political theorists, activists, and education specialists to envision educational reforms that advance the well-being of all children."--Lawrie Balfour, author of Democracy’s Reconstruction: Thinking Politically with W. E. B. Du Bois

Support for this research was provided by the University of Wisconsin–Madison Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education.


Keisha Lindsay is an assistant professor of gender and women's studies and political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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