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Where Did my Black Folk Go? The Exclusion of Black Males from American K-12 Classrooms
Few studies have sought to understand the lived experiences of Black males being excluded from K-12 classrooms. This qualitative study explored the punitive tools and approaches that have removed Black males from American K-12 classrooms, hindering their academic achievement and disproportionately sending Black males onto a one-way path to prison. This study centered the voices of racialized Black males as a way to clarify the lived experiences of unequal interactions within the school to prison pipeline. Considering the hyper-surveillance of Black males in schools and the normalization of school resource officers to criminalize Black males, too little research centers on the experiences of Black males who are suspended or imprisoned.
In this dissertation, I used Critical Race Theory (CRT) to analyze racial disparities in out-of-school suspensions among Black male students and the criminalization of Black males in the classroom. The study took place in a public U.S. school district with the pseudonym of Winfield School District. I interviewed ten students to assess their experiences with being suspended and the impact it has on their academic achievements and the criminal justice system. The findings revealed that racial disparities in out of school suspension has led to the school-to-prison pipeline among Black males. Recommendations include: (1) White teacher recognition of their own racial identities, particularly teaching Black males, and examination of roles as potential allies in dismantling racism in schools; (2) Require schools to provide professional development for White teachers to use alternative approaches to zero-tolerance policies and practices and (3) School district development and implementation of consistent, equitable out-of-school policies so that existing racial and ethnic disparities are not maintained.