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From Research and Theory Into Practice: hooks’ Homeplace Matters in the Educational Lives of Black Students

The current context of education is riddled with anti-Blackness that continues to find systemic ways to harm Black children and adolescents, ranging from the persistent surveillance and pushout from educational opportunities to anti-CRT legislation that prevents all students — not just Black youth — from learning about Black history and culture. It is clear that education needs a new framework, one that loves and protects Black children and adolescents from these (and more) systemic harms while supporting their joy, resistance, growth, creativity, and healing. hooks (1990) calls this unique love and protection ‘homeplace,’ a space that provides a sanctuary that supports the wholeness and humanizing of those who collectively create and exist in said space. Said differently, homeplace is a “space where Black folx truly matter…where souls are nurtured, comforted, and fed” (Love, 2019, p. 41).

Dr. Renae D. MayesDr. Renae D. MayesIt’s essential to note that homeplace must be intentional spaces that can and should be created across P-12 education and beyond (e.g., higher education) to counter the many systemic issues that work to oppress students, especially Black students, and even more so Black males. In this special issue of Theory Into Practice, co-edited by Mayes (the first author herein), Kearl, and Ieva, the authors explain the need for homeplace and how it can improve the educational outcome and well-being of Black students. While there isn’t necessarily a step-by-step process by which said spaces are created, it is important to note that their creation must be done in community/collaboration with Black youth, families, and educators. Essentially, homeplace is collective and must be created with cooperation across the Black diaspora, where their voices remain at the center of what is cultivated and tailored to their unique needs.

Toward this end, the Theory into Practice Special Issue on Homeplace and Black Joy in K-12 Education offers 11 manuscripts that provide insights and frameworks of cultivating homeplace to address the intersectional identities of Black students. Also included in the special issue are recommendations for inservice and preservice educators and school counselors who may be preparing to support the creation of Black joy, mental health, social-emotional well-being, and homeplace with their current and future P-12 students. See below for information about each manuscript, which we share using abstracts. Topics include: homeplace and Black girls; STEM identity and Black boys; school principals creating student belonging though homeplace; homeplace in recruiting Black students for gifted and talented programs; and homeplace for Black LGBTQ+ identities. The complete special issue can be found by clicking this link:

Mayes, R. D., Kearl, B, & Ieva, K. (in press). Introduction to special issue. Theory into Practice.

The current sociopolitical climate in the United States has increased pressure in K-12 schools while limiting resources and opportunities to support students fully. This climate renders students, especially those who were already at the margins, more vulnerable than before. There is a need to approach education through a framework that not only recognizes the challenges students are facing, but also their joy. As such, authors discuss the ways that cultivating Black joy and homeplace address these needs and should be foundational as a part of education. Further, authors discuss the unique contributions of nine different articles around this topic for this special issue.

Lawson, T. K. (2023). Teaching homeplace: How teachers can cultivate Black joy through culturally responsive practices in the classroom. Theory into Practice.

Dr. Donna Y. FordDr. Donna Y. FordCultivating Black joy is critical, given censorship placed in schools, on Black bodies, and in the curriculum. This article conceptualizes how the dimensions of culturally responsive teaching practices can help reclaim and reconstruct Black students’ sense of well-being in the classroom and their sense of Black joy. Furthermore, this conceptual piece argues how creating a homeplace can affirm joy and liberation for Black students. This article provides an overview of prominent scholars who have expanded culturally relevant pedagogy, which acknowledges the importance of culturally responsive teaching practices in the classroom. This concept also argues that implementing culturally responsive teaching practices (i.e., instructional practices, curriculum development, teacher-student relationships, classroom climate, etc.) promotes agency, resistance, and liberation for Black students. This article concludes with the discourse on how culturally responsive teaching practices could cultivate Black joy by disrupting traditional instructional practices and employing practices that foster radical pedagogies to help combat racism and anti-Blackness.

Lowery, K. P., Johnson, K., & Spearman, R. (2023). There’s No Place Like Homeplace: School Principals’ Roles in Developing Student Belonging as Resistance Against Oppression. Theory into Practice. 

School principals must play a vital role in facilitating homeplace and Black joy by promoting, modeling, and holding educators responsible for their roles in contributing to homeplace. We argue that principals can enact homeplace by embodying the tenets of culturally responsive school leadership. The purpose of this paper is to make meaning of the concept of homeplace, conceptualized by bell hooks, through storytelling and explanation of an acrostic. Homeplace creates holistic opportunities for meaning, expectations on high, purpose, love, achievement, and community engagement. For explain each construct by including: 1.) a story that connects to one of our personal experiences; 2.) a general overview of how we make sense of the construct; 3.) how we connect the construct to extant research about homeplace, joy, and CRSL; and 4.) possibilities for application of the construct by school principals.

Ford, D. Y. & Moore III, J. L. (2023). Educators of gifted and talented students must be formally trained for homeplace to become a reality: Recommended theories and paradigms. Theory into Practice.

Given the abysmal underrepresentation of Black and other minoritized students in gifted and talented programs, there is a need to help them to be more effective with recruitment and retention. In this article, we maintain that the notion of someplace is important in order for educators to reverse underrepresentation. To support them, we share relevant theories and paradigms.

Levy, I. P., Erdimanasinghe, N., & Ieva, K. (2023).  The intersection of hip hop and youth participatory action research (YPAR) to create and sustain homeplace. Theory into Practice.

Dr. Erik M. HinesDr. Erik M. Hinesbell hooks described homeplace as a space for love, belonging and connection that actively resists the dominant narratives within white supremacy. This article highlights how hip hop culture and Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) led by school counselors can be used as a homeplace in schools, a space where students can speak on their experiences with issues in schools in a way they value most. This article details two ways hip hop and YPAR were combined to develop homeplaces. The authors describe the experiences of the students in the hip hop and YPAR process.

Mason, E. C. M., Dosal-Terminel, D., Carter, H., & York Streitmatter, S. (2023). Affinity groups to build homeplace and cultural humility practices of White school counselors. Theory into Practice.

Every school counselor must be fully prepared to build homeplace and Black joy in K-12 education. For white school counselors, this requires an ongoing personal and professional commitment to cultural humility and racial identity development. Affinity groups can be an opportunity for white school counselors to develop cultural humility, racial identity, and prepare to thoughtfully engage in antiracist action with their larger school communities. In this article, we use our experience in facilitating and researching affinity groups for school counselors to provide recommendations for implementation.

Kearl, B., Mayes, R. D., & Drake, R. (2023). Affirming Black joy & homeplace: A call to action for practitioner preparation programs. Theory into Practice.

Despite growing discussions of antiracist practices and policies in P-20 schools, education tends to critique racist structures without providing solutions that bring into the conversation the lived experiences of Black students, families, and communities. While these critiques may be helpful, we suggest these critiques omit practices and policies that attend to how education could become a homeplace that affirms Black joy. In order to realize the affirmative possibilities of homeplace, we argue that more attention is needed toward practitioner preparation programs as training sites for building out education as a location for Black joy. We discuss the current context of preservice teacher and counselor education training and provide tenets of Black joy and homeplace that can serve as guideposts for more complete critical accounts of antiracism.

Mims. L. C., Burnett, M., Martin, R., Leath, S., & Harris-Thomas, B. (2023). “Black girl magic is everything:” Recommendations for cultivating supportive spaces for Black girls. Theory into Practice.

The concept of #BlackGirlMagic has resonated with Black women and Black girls across the world. Black Girl Magic is as unique as a fingerprint and serves as an invitation for Black girls to be present as their true, most powerful selves. In reflecting on the power of Black Girl Magic for Black girls as five Black women in psychological science and education, we describe three recommendations for cultivating supportive spaces for Black girls to be magical. These recommendations can serve as an important starting point for future conversations and purposeful action.

Reid, S. (2023). Beyond single-identity spaces of Black mattering: Homeplaces for Black LGBTQ+ identities in K-12 schools. Theory into Practice.

Many scholars have documented the critical importance of youth having access to spaces of joy and homeplaces in which they learn to matter. Research has shown that Black LGBTQ+ youth often struggle to locate homeplace and spaces of joy in K-12 schooling contexts due to societal beliefs flowing from anti-blackness, (hetero)sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and classism. These discriminatory beliefs coupled with the lack of understanding many educational stakeholders have about the (dis)connections between interlocking systems of oppression complicates their capacity to construct spaces of affirmation and inclusion for Black LGBTQ+ youth in K-12 schools. In this article, I draw on previous scholarship within Black LGBTQ+ communities in which I worked within a queer of color critique framework to explore how Black LGBTQ+ youth and their communities practice love, agency, and world-making. I reflect on this previous work and offer three practical invitations for education stakeholders committed to creating spaces of joy and homeplaces for Black LGBTQ+ youth in K-12 schooling spaces.

Hines. E. M., Fletcher Jr., E. C., Harris, P.C., Henderson, J. A., & Moore III, J. L. (2023). Using homeplace to guide STEM identity development in Black males. Theory into Practice.

Black males continue to be underrepresented in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Some of the barriers to representation are due to lack of exposure, academic expectations, lack of belief in one’s ability, and opportunity gaps. The purpose of this article is to discuss how homeplace (Black joy, authenticity, and freedom dreaming) can be cultivated by educators and practitioners in both K-12 and higher education. We also make recommendations for policy, practice, and research.

Hannon, L. V. & Hannon, M. D. (2023). Family and school partnership to build homeplace and protect Black autistic joy. Theory into Practice.

Researchers acknowledge how the experiences of Black autistic students and their families are virtually absent from educational research and research about autistic people (Hannon & Hannon, 2020; Malone et al. 2022). This chapter offers insights and perspectives from the parents of a Black autistic child, using hooks’ (1990) construct of homeplace to understand the need for safety in school spaces. Drawing on tenets of self-study and co-autoethnographic methodologies, the authors provide reflections and recommendations on the ways school personnel can help create homeplace to nurture and protect Black autistic joy through their singular and shared narratives.

A Final Word 

Taken together, this special issue helps us to not only envision a better, more accepting, responsive, and just educational system for Black children and adolescents, but also to actively pursue such. It cannot be a single act, rather it requires all members of the greater education community working together in solidarity to create the schools we need to advocate for, protect, and unconditionally love our Black students. While we all may be starting from different places, what is critical is that we simply begin and let homeplace and Black joy be our guides in the small steps that pave the way for true transformation in P-12 schools.

hooks, b. (1990). Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics. South End Press

Love, B. L. (2019). We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom. Beacon Press

Dr. Renae D. Mayes is an associate professor in the Department of Disabilities and Psychoeducational Studies at University of Arizona.

Dr. Donna Y. Ford is a Distinguished Professor of Educational and Human Ecology in the Department of Educational Studies at The Ohio State University.

Dr. Erik M. Hines is a professor in the Division of Child, Family, and Community Engagement at George Mason University.

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