African American; Black; boys; male; mattering; teacher-student relationships
Inspired by Black Lives Matter activism, we used racialized lenses on social-psychological “mattering” to investigate how Black high school boys’ interactions shaped their perceived mattering. Researchers conducted interviews with 17 self-identified Black boys who were part of a larger school-based partnership called The Black Boy Mattering Project. Participants reported experiencing and resisting interpersonal marginal mattering (e.g., evidenced in negative interactions with educators and peers and fueled by racist stereotypes) and described mattering partially through selective love (e.g., inferring significance through athletics, yet deemed anti-intellectual). Our study exhibits how schools uphold systemic anti-Black racist notions that shape relationships between Black boys and their peers and educators and diminish adolescents’ self-concepts. Implications aim to support educators and researchers in radically affirming Black boys in school contexts.