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What If LeBron James Was a Scientist? The Influence of Role Models on Black Male Youth in STEM Programs

Zakia Y. Gates (Cabrini University, USA)

Young, Gifted and Missing

ISBN: 978-1-80117-731-3, eISBN: 978-1-80117-730-6

Publication date: 17 August 2022


Black Panther depicted a positive representation of Black culture. The film transcended Black minds to believe in power, excellence, and intelligence. Black youth posted images on social media using the Wakanda pose as a symbol of pride. The film not only countered the stereotypical generalized ideologies of African culture, values, and customs, but it capsized false narratives by including the historical context of Black scientist with a female character. Articles summarizing depictions of Black Panther and its influence on Black youth assert that the character of Shuri and her perfection of the sciences contributed to pathways for young Black girls to join science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. Other factors contribute to the increase of Black girls in STEM programs, but the image of Shuri's character in a position of power of the sciences pinpoints representation as key to cerebral pictures and reflections of Black female excellence in the sciences. However, representation is minimal among Black male youth in STEM programs.

Although it is true that African American male youth have Black male representation in media through sports figures, rappers, and hip-hop artists, inquiring minds need to know that Black male representation in the sciences and mathematics is the formula to how young minds view themselves and their relation to the world. Accordingly, this underrepresentation of Black male youth in STEM programs leads to the big “what if” question. If LeBron James conducted a critical analysis using physics and mathematics to make a 3-point shot, then what is the likelihood that young Black males' interest in the STEM programs would increase?



Gates, Z.Y. (2022), "What If LeBron James Was a Scientist? The Influence of Role Models on Black Male Youth in STEM Programs", Robins, A.G., Knibbs, L., Ingram, T.N., Weaver, M.N. and Hilton, A.A. (Ed.) Young, Gifted and Missing (Diversity in Higher Education, Vol. 25), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 115-128.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022 Zakia Y. Gates. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited