Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School Psychology


African American boys face unique challenges. They are more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than any other racial group (Losen, 2015). Equally disturbing, African American male students are largely suspended for more subjective and ambiguous reasons such as appearing “threatening or disrespectful” (Verdugo, 2007, p. 60). Research on teacher bias in the classroom has indicated that “African American males are generally viewed as possessing characteristics incongruent with academic success (e.g., laziness), valuing athletics over academic accomplishments, and having a propensity toward aggression and violence” (Thomas & Stevenson, 2009, p. 162). These issues experienced by African American males underscore the important role of education, which is likely to be predictive of life trajectory.

Using a qualitative case study design, this study sought to: (1) explore how young African American males conceptualize masculinity, (2) how they make sense of the school’s role in constructing Black masculinity, and (3) its impact on their feelings and attitudes toward school. Results of this study indicated that teachers had a vital role in shaping and reinforcing negative constructions of Black masculinity and that African American boys’ perceptions of Black masculinity strongly paralleled these negatively perceived teacher constructions. In addition, the intersectionality of race and gender had a major role in instances of teacher favoritism relative to girls and during occasions of relational aggression, in which teachers did not intervene when girls bullied boys. Implications are presented along with recommendations.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.