23rd Annual National Symposium on Family Issues – Boys and Men in African American Families

When Oct 26, 2015 08:00 AM to
Oct 27, 2015 05:00 PM
Where Nittany Lion Inn, Ballroom
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The place and potential of Black boys and men in the U.S. was the focus of an initiative launched in the early 1990s by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation’s National Task Force on African American Men and Boys.  The Task Force focused its attention on “African-American men and boys who are not a part of either the recognized economic structure, or the body politic, of the country. Nor are they in community with their own ethnic group . . .”   The Task Force’s influential report, Repairing the breach: Key Ways to Support Family Life, Reclaim Our Streets and Rebuild Civil Society in America’s Communities, (Austin, 1996) noted that the health and development of Black boys and men has emerged within a larger system of forces ranging from macro-level political and economic structures and influences, to those at the community and family levels, and to the individual activities and behaviors of Black males themselves. The report also recognized that violence and disaffection toward and by Black men and boys are symptoms of this larger, multi-layered system of influences.

Almost two decades after publication of Repairing the Breach, the 2015 Annual Symposium on Family Issues is aimed at contributing to the continuing dialogue on promoting the potential of Black boys and men-- with a focus on the role of family.  In developing this year’s Symposium, the Penn State team is joined by experts from Duke University and from the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice and TandemED at Harvard Law School.  After opening remarks that set the stage for understanding Black male achievement in contemporary U.S. society, sessions will focus on Black males at different points across the life course, including boyhood, adolescence and young adulthood, and adulthood, with speakers and discussants providing perspectives on policy and practice and from academic disciplines ranging from sociology and demography, to public health, and clinical, social, and developmental psychology.  Within each session, presentations will delineate some of the challenges facing Black males in the U.S. and highlight family resources and supports that can foster resilience in the face of challenge. Throughout, we consider how larger social structural forces, as well as the individual behaviors and activities of boys and men, can challenge - or enhance – the impacts of family resilience processes.  Closing remarks will direct attention to the implications of family research for policy and practice.

The Symposium’s larger goals are to showcase the current evidence base on family influences and family experiences of Black males within the larger context of U.S. social, economic and political structures and forces, and to provide a roadmap for interdisciplinary and translational research that advances knowledge, policy and practice—pertaining to a group that has been relatively neglected by family scholars.

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