“Breaking the Mental Chains of Black Teenagers” Motivates At-Risk Students
As the author of Breaking the Mental Chains of Black Teenagers, Baker believed his book could positively change the mindsets of at-risk black students. He was proven correct when Ms. Braxton agreed to conduct a chapter by chapter discussion over a four-week period with her class. The topics covered sparked insightful classroom discussions about life choices and dispelled myths about getting rich quick, education not being important, and the fantasy of prison life that many black youth are accepting as reality.
“The growth in my classroom was amazing and continuous! Some students didn’t want to speak or get involve at first, but after reading the first couple of chapters they wanted to participate in the session and discuss the material after class. The rich conversation was the best to me,” said Ms. Braxton, an 8th-grade teacher in Maryland.
Breaking the Mental Chains of Black Teenagers teaches teens how to be leaders, how to be successful in any field, and how to build confidence. The book begins by establishing a positive self-identity for teenagers and reveals proven historical facts, including scientific discoveries such as math that were made by blacks.
“They were utilizing their metacognitive thought processes,” Braxton said of her students. “Yaba became a quick favorite in my class. The children were thirsting for more information and waited eagerly for his arrival every week. There were a number of students who also took it upon themselves to extend their newfound information by doing their own research to learn more about what they read. I would definitely recommend this book to other teachers to use in their classrooms because knowledge is power. This book equips students with knowledge that they would have never known otherwise and that knowledge builds their self-esteem because they know and understand that they come from a people that are way beyond the stereotypes they are accustomed to.”
The class read two or three chapters from the book for each weekly session.
Roxana, a Latino student, feels the book is bigger than the title. “Don’t get discouraged about the title of the book, even if you’re not black, still read it. I’m Latina, don’t feel strange about reading the book. It’s a very good book and you can learn many important things that can be applied to your life for a better future.”
Baker’s passion extends beyond the classroom, and his inspiring and motivating discussions have impacted thousands of teens. His previously written books have received media attention from BET, CBS News, Upscale magazine and other media outlets.