The Voices Of African American Males Revealed: A Qualitative Study Of Suspension Experiences
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentAdvanced Studies, Leadership, and Policy
ProgramDoctor of Education
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The problem examined in this study was the phenomena of disproportionate suspension of African American males in urban high schools. In order to evaluate this phenomenon, a cultural lens was used to understand the experiences that led to suspension of African American males at True Urban High School. Research participants recounted (in their own voices) the suspension experience from precipitating event(s) to culmination. Further, the researcher examined the degree to which teachers' level of cultural proficiency played a role in the imposition of suspension on these students. In order to understand the suspension experiences, a qualitative research design was employed. Survey data from seven African American male participants (four of the seven were purposefully selected for individual interview sessions) and two teachers were analyzed in the completion of this research. Data revealed that there were several external factors in the school, home and community that impacted participants' behaviors that often lead to suspension. Further, the researcher found disconnect between the determination of appropriateness and inappropriateness of certain behaviors between teachers and students participating in this study. Teachers participating in this research recounted looking to parents for help to bridge the gap between culturally and academically acceptable behaviors, but reported that there was no collaboration. Lastly, interview data revealed that teacher subjects demonstrated culturally blind practices as they made assessments of participating students' behaviors. Data suggested that suspensions were ineffective in changing the behaviors of students and the teachers' placement on the cultural proficiency continuum aided in the imposition of suspensions for participating students. It is suggested, by way of this research, that educators use the cultural proficiency continuum as a tool to build capacity to provide a culturally inclusive environment that uses the voice of African American males to eliminate the disproportionality of suspensions.