In this article, and from the standpoint of an African American woman teacher/researcher, the author explores what happened when one African American adolescent boy known inside of school as a 'severely disengaged' student cultivated literacy practices and events of his own volition in an after-school program. The author asks, how does race and gender consciousness intersect one African American urban adolescent boy's engagements with a favored popular culture narrative after school? Race and gender consciousness, in the context of this study, refers to the ways individuals and/or groups publicize, illustrate, critically articulate and/or question race and gender constructs stated or suggested in various texts. The author argues that students' race and gender consciousness speak to and intermingle with intellectual work and literate abilities; further, the author argues that attention to such work and consciousness provides valuable information about the aptitude, sensitivities and motivations of students who are labeled 'disengaged' and/or socially 'challenged' in multiple contexts. As a result, this research speaks to an international audience because it conveys the processes by which engagements with texts can spur intellectual work by a student placed at risk of academic and social failure.
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