Supporting School Readiness of Young African American Boys


Supporting the School Readiness and Success of Young African American Boys include terms and concepts that may require further explanation and learning. These definitions and links can help deepen your understanding. Please note that this is not an official Head Start glossary.

Adultification: The experience of treating Black children and youth older than their developmental and chronological age.

Implicit bias: A belief or attitude that affects our understanding, decision, and actions, and that exists without our conscious awareness.

Structural racism: Historical, social, political, institutional, and cultural factors that contribute to and support racial inequities. Structural racism is not something that a few people or institutions choose to practice, it is a coming together of racist concepts and theories that control our economic, political, and social systems. Structural racism emphasizes the role of structures like laws, policies, and dominant cultural norms, which uphold racist practices. An example of structural racism in education is the “school to prison pipeline.” This refers to the trend that children, mainly boys of color, are more often disciplined through suspension and expulsion for behavior challenges than other children with similar behavior challenges. For older children, police are more likely to be called to deal with misbehavior by children of color. Police involvement, suspensions, and expulsions raise the risk for incarceration. While this is not an explicit policy or law, the discriminatory beliefs and attitudes rooted in the education system reflect structural racism. Sometimes structural and systemic racism are used interchangeably, even though they are different.

Verve: The educator and writer Bryan Wright in The Brilliance of Black Boys: Cultivating School Success in the Early Grades, describes the concept of verve, which captures the home environment of many African American children. Verve means:

  • Lively and intensified behavior
  • Preference for variety and change in an environment
  • Preference for multiple activities and stimulation that exist at the same time in the environment

Windows and mirrors: The concept that books can be a mirror (seeing ourselves reflected) and a window (learning about others and their cultural ways of being)

Learn more about the concepts in the glossary: