The Politics of Strange Fruit: Examining the Intersectionality of Race, Microaggressions, and Resiliency for African American Male Students in a Public High School Setting
Date of Award
African American high school students; Blacks--Race identity
Examining the intersectionality of race, microaggressions, and resiliency among African American male students and how these experiences impact their lives in a high school setting can produce understandings that could lead to interventions for greater academic success. Research is clear there is a consistent decline in the academic achievement for African American males. Additionally, there has been an increase of African American males dropping out of high schools and entering the perils of a justice system that swings towards an imbalance of hopelessness and the predictability of a shortened lifespan. Analyzing structures and practices through a multi-lens approach of Critical Race Theory, Phenomenological Variant of Ecological Systems Theory, and Racial Identity Theory can be strategic methods in addressing and changing teacher-student relationships, institutional racism, white privilege and power, oppositional cultural attitudes and stereotypes, and racial prejudice. This study was comprised of four focus groups from four high schools and 25 African American male students. An analysis of the data revealed the following themes: microaggressions, racialized stereotypes, racial identity struggle, feelings of being unheard, unseen, invisible and a 2nd class citizen; and resiliency, power, and coping. The findings from the study identified the perception of racial microaggressions among African American male students and used previous research to intersect their experiences with racial identity, feelings of power, strength, and resiliency in a high school setting. The focus group sessions created space to listen to the students’ stories and understand their perceptions while allowing them to “name their own reality” about their school experiences. Listening to student voice, referencing and positively teaching about a student’s background and culture is key to the academic success for African American males. Positive cross-race interactions provide increased opportunities for classmates to connect, thus reducing feelings of alienation, invisibility, and hopelessness. All the participants in this study exhibited a strong awareness of racialized stereotypes, microaggressions, racialized messages, and racism in their school culture and context. The study also demonstrated how African American male students develop adaptive coping strategies to manage these experiences and navigate towards academic attainment, a positive racial identity, racial socialization, and resiliency. Specifically, Gender Relevant Pedagogy and Culturally Relevant Pedagogy can be applied to all teachers working with males of Color who are disengaged and underperforming in school, and an emphasis in ethnic studies with student affinity groups.
Brown, Irvin M., "The Politics of Strange Fruit: Examining the Intersectionality of Race, Microaggressions, and Resiliency for African American Male Students in a Public High School Setting" (2018). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 47.
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