"We real cool": Toward a theory of black masculine literacies

David E. Kirkland, Austin Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article reports findings from an ethnographic study of the literacy practices of a group of 11- to 14-year-old black males who called themselves "the cool kids." The study is framed using theories that view literacy as a social and cultural practice involving multiple sign-and-symbol systems. Two research questions guided the study: How did coolness relate to literacy among "the cool kids," and what symbolic patterns helped to shape these relations? The findings describe how race, gender, and pop culture marked the group's use of language and style and reveal how coolness, as a pop-cultural artifact of black manhood, contributed to the literacy practices of the young men and to the construction of their symbolic selves. These findings contribute to building a theory of black masculine literacies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-297
Number of pages20
JournalReading Research Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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