Term of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

Dainel Chapman

Committee Member 2

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 3

Derrick Tennial

Abstract

This dissertation explores the influence of the presence of or lack for African American males on the academic achievements, identities, and lives of five African American teenage males who live in middle Georgia, a predominately White rural area. Theoretically, I draw upon the works of Derrick Bell (1987, 1992, 1999), Pedro Noguera (2003, 2008), Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic (2000, 2012), Gloria-Ladson Billings (2001, 2003, 2009, 2013) and William F. Tate (2006), Cornel West (1993, 2001, 2008), Carter G. Woodson (1933, 2010), W. E. B. DuBois (1903, 1996), and others on critical race theory and William Watkins (2005, 2006) on Black protest thought. Methodologically, I draw upon the oral history works of Willa Baum (1991), Donald Ritchie (2003), and Patricia Leavy (2011).

Five African American teenage males enrolled in middle Georgia public high schools are the main characters in the stories collected. African American men, or their absence thereof, have affected the five African American teenage males in diverse ways. Using oral history research methods, I collected the stories of these young men as we lived our lives in our schools, churches, families, and neighborhoods. Through our daily encounters, I began to gain a deeper understanding of how African American male students viewed themselves, and how the presence or absence of African American male role models in their lives influenced their academic achievements, identities, and lives. Examining their academic report cards, reviewing their behavioral reports, and observing what was going on in their lives inside and outside schools enabled me to gain insights on how these African American teenage males perceived and constructed what was going on in the world around them. In order to protect my participants, I fictionalized characters, settings, events, times, and places based upon the stories I collected from the five African American teenage males to allow their silent voices to be heard.

African American males stereotypes usually include being unruly and evil. The United States spent millions of dollars on studying instructional methods, medication, prisons, and cemeteries. Few people, however, take time to have serious conversations with young African American males. I sincerely hope that my dissertation has created opportunities for five young men to voice their ideas and to tell their stories of struggles, hopes, and dreams. I also hope that teachers, educators, researchers, administrators, parents, and other educational workers consider that African American males might be able to define and express their struggles better than anyone else who has never walked a mile in their shoes!

Seven findings have emerged from my inquiry. Schools and societies are racialized spaces that reproduce and perpetuate racism and discrimination that suppress African American teenage males’ academic achievement. We need to provide more positive African American role models to influence the ways African American teenager males learn and interact with others, how they construct their identities, and how they live their lives in schools and societies. Culturally biased discipline policies and standardized tests assassinate the dreams and futures of African American teenage males before they graduate from their high schools. It is extremely important to teach our African American teenage males how to react to racism and discrimination to avoid being murdered such as what has happened to Travon Martin and Michael Brown. Oral history methods allow African American teenage males to tell their silenced counterstories that challenge the official or meta-narrative and empower them to understand the sources of racism and discrimination in schools and societies. There is a demand to develop a culturally responsive and challenging pedagogy that help raise critical consciousness within African American teenager males and empower them to understand their situations and responsibilities in schools and societies and to develop strategies to fight against injustice. It is of paramount importance to develop a caring, just, and inspiring learning and living environment where young African American males feel that they have equal opportunities to reach their highest potential (Siddle-Walker, 1996).

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