Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Black Male Persistence in Spite of Facing Stereotypes in College: A Pnenomenological Exploration

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Black Male Persistence in Spite of Facing Stereotypes in College: A Pnenomenological Exploration

Article excerpt

Black males are often negatively stereotyped in college settings. Given this, the threatening environments created by stereotypes can affect Black males' academic success while they are enrolled at a college or university. Steele and Aronson (1995) have referred to this threatening environment driven by negative stereotypes as stereotype threat. When the presence of Black males on college campuses is continually questioned, they often battle internal and external pressures related to their academic ability and performance in college as a result of racialized stereotypes, hindering their true intellectual ability and potential (Museus, 2008; Steele, 2010; Steele & Aronson, 1995).

Harper (2006a, 2006b) has stated that Black males are consistently overlooked, undermined, and stereotyped as uneducated, lazy, and violent. Further, Steele (2010) contends that the social and psychological processes stereotypes induce often lead to lower rates of academic success and performance for Black males enrolled in college. Thus, the barriers fueled by racial stereotypes that Black male students face contribute to their social, psychological, and academic development in college. For example, Black males face challenges pertaining to campus racial climates, self-esteem, sense of belonging, co-curricular involvement and engagement, academic achievement, faculty/staff relationships, and persistence (Harper, 2015; Steele, 2010; Steele & Aronson, 1995; Tinto, 1993). In turn, disparities related to these various factors, among others, create disparities in rates of retention, graduation, persistence, and the overall success of Black males in college in comparison to their collegiate counterparts (Berryhill & Bee, 2007; Harper, 2006a; Steele, 1999, 2010; Steele & Aronson, 1995).

The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of Black males in college regarding the academic, social, and psychological influences stereotypes have on Black male achievement in college. Further, this study examined how Black males persist through college despite facing stereotypes. Finally, this study sought to identify strategies that may prove effective when responding to or dealing with racial stereotypes. The research questions that guided this study were:

* What stereotypes do Black males experience in college?

* What are the perceptions of Black males in college regarding the influences that stereotypes have on Black male achievement in college?

* In what ways are Black males persisting in college in spite of facing stereotypes?

Literature Review

The longstanding issue of student persistence consists of countless identifiers that may or may not contribute to a student's ability to graduate from college. For instance, Astin's (1984) theory of involvement highlighted the significance of co-curricular engagement in student success, while Tinto's (1993) theory of student departure related student persistence to separation, transition, and incorporation into the collegiate environment. Similar to Astin, Tinto placed precedence on the relationship between co-curricular involvement and student persistence. However, Tinto also originally suggested that students must separate, transition, and incorporate into the collegiate realm if they were to persist through college. While Tinto's original work is compelling, in his revised work, Tinto (2006-2007) contended that underrepresented student populations--primarily composed of students of color--should, in fact, remain connected to past communities, churches, tribes, or family as an essential part of their persistence through college. For Black males specifically, Harper (2006b) also noted that these support systems are an essential part of their persistence to and through the collegiate realm.

Although these theories have provided insight regarding how and why students persist, gaps remain in the rates of persistence among students of color, specifically Black males. …

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