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The Skin They're In

The Skin They're In

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An in-depth analysis of African-American student attitudes in Irving ISD (TX) by researcher Mack Hines.
An in-depth analysis of African-American student attitudes in Irving ISD (TX) by researcher Mack Hines.

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The Skin They’re In

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The Skin They’re In

An In-Depth Analysis of African American Students from Irving Independent School District

By Dr. Mack T. Hines III

The Skin They’re In

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“Many of Irving ISD’s African American Students can eloquently explain and exude pride in Black America’s history of overcoming struggles for racial equality. But they have yet to experience the evidence needed to come over to believing that they are racially equal human beings.”

Dr. Mack T. Hines III

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Table of Contents
Section i. ii. I. II. III. IV. V. Topic Executive Summary Introduction The Skin They’re In-Student Findings The Skin They’re In Disciplined and Undisciplined African American Students The Skin They’re In-Teacher Findings Implications Summary/Conclusions Page 4 10 12 53 64 79 89

The Skin They’re In Executive Summary The purpose of report is to provide findings from my investigation of African American students’ schooling experiences in Irving Independent School District. Specifically, I sought to investigate African American students’ perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes about their enrollment in secondary schools in Irving Independent School District. I also investigated Irving Independent School District’s teachers’ perceptions, views, attitudes, and concerns about African American students. I conducted 44 focused group sessions with 143 African American students from 4 high schools and 7 middle schools. The students were group in accordance to African American students who did not have behavioral issues in school and African American students who had behavioral issues in schools. The outcomes from the discussions were as follows:

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1. African American students took pride in their race and possessed a clear understanding being Black in America. However, they believed that Caucasian American people enjoy privileges that are not available to African American people. In effect, they believe that the Caucasian American people are the standards of economical, political, and industrial advantages in society, particularly Irving, Texas. 2. African American students indicated that they experience the following forms of racism and discrimination in schools: A. Student to Student Racism-Some students spoke about racial tension with Caucasian American students and Hispanic American students. The students and students from other ethnicities often exchanged racial jokes with each other. However, at a certain point, African American students and the other students began to use racial jokes to demean each other. B. Teacher to Student Racism-Many of the students perceived that teachers treated African American students different in comparison to Caucasian American students, as well as Hispanic American students (on a few campuses). Majority of the racial tensions revolved around African American students and Caucasian American teachers.

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3. Some African American students possessed a clear understanding of the meaning of racism. Some African American students did not have a true understanding of the meaning of racism. 4. Perceptions of racism appeared to have a more negative impact on African American students with behavior problems than African American students who did not have behavior problems in school. As a follow up to the student activities, I also interacted with 198 teachers from 4 high schools and 7 middle schools. First, I used a survey to collect information about the teachers. Through the use of the survey, I identified factors that contributed the most to their identities as individuals and teachers. I found that occupation and education were the strongest influences on the teachers’ identities as people. Social class and race held the least influence on the teachers’ identities as people. The overall rankings for teacher identity development showed that occupation and education held the strongest influences on the teachers’ identities as teachers. Social class and marital status held the least influence on the teachers’ identities as teachers. I also found that for Caucasian American teachers, occupation and education was the strongest influences on their identities as people. Race was the least significant influence on their identities as people. For African American teachers, education and race were the strongest influences on their identities as people. Parenthood was the least significant influence on their identities as people. As people, Hispanic American teachers appeared to be mostly influenced by education and occupation. The least significant influence for these teachers was gender. Occupation and education appeared to be the strongest influences on how all of the teachers viewed their identities as teachers. Whereas parenthood was the least significant influence on Hispanic American teachers’ teacher identities, marital status

The Skin They’re In appeared to bear little to no importance on the teacher identities of Caucasian American teachers and African American teachers. In addition to establishing correlations between teaching and identity, I analyzed

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the racial differences for the teachers’ beliefs regarding other teachers’ high expectations for African American students. My findings showed that Caucasian American teachers and Hispanic American teachers believed that other teachers held high expectations for African American students. African American teachers, however, only somewhat believed that other teachers held high expectations for African American students. Other comparable findings were that a statistically significant difference existed between the teachers’ recognition of the racial differences among students. African American teachers were slightly more likely than Caucasian American teachers and Hispanic American teachers to see the racial differences among students. In addition to surveying teachers, I also engaged them in focus group discussions about African American students. Ms. Dianna Hopper would facilitate the discussions by informing teachers of my purpose for working with Irving Independent School District. I would then ask teachers to identity any specific academic characteristics and behavioral characteristics about their African American student population. On many campuses, some of teacher responses could be characterized as: 1. Beliefs in that African American students were bright individuals with the potential to become successful individuals. 2. Concerns about African American students’ lack of commitment or focus on academics. According to the teachers, some African American students either failed or refused to apply themselves in the classroom. 3. Anxiety regarding African American students’ tendency to show defiant and disrespectful behavior towards the authority of adults, particularly Caucasian American teachers.

The Skin They’re In Yet many of the responses to my inquiry varied by campus, group dynamics and race. On some campuses, either all or majority of the teachers gave open and honest

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accounts of their perceptions about African American students. On other campuses, either all or majority of the teachers defined African American students as the same as other students. Within some campuses, some focused group participants were more revealing about their perceptions of African American students than participants from other focused groups. In most instances, race influenced the responses from focused group participants’ perceptions of African American students. Specifically, with the exception of one African American teacher, the African American teachers were able to discuss specific academic characteristics and behavioral characteristics of African American students. Along those same lines, Hispanic teachers, for the most part, could describe their perceptions of the unique academic and behavioral characteristics of African American students. Considerable variation existed within Caucasian American teachers. Whereas some Caucasian American teachers were willing to discuss the characteristics of African American students, some of these teachers were resistant to partaking in this activity. However, during some parts of the focused group discussions, I did talk with these and African American teachers and Hispanic American teachers about accusations of racism. Many of the Caucasian American teachers wanted to gain a better understanding of African American students’ rationale for making and how to address accusations of being racist teachers.

The Skin They’re In In response, I would suggest that the teachers ask African American students to define racism. The teachers should then engage the students in discussing their definitions of racism and the extent to which the teachers’ actions were indicative of racism. They should then insist that these students refrain from accusing them of being racist. Although the Caucasian American teachers, as well as other teachers from the focused group, were responsive to these suggestions, I am unsure of the extent to which they translated into strategies for their classrooms. Notwithstanding, the findings from this investigation implicate the need for a racially relevant approach to addressing the needs of African American students. The most important stakeholders in this process are parents, teachers, and principals. I am proposing that African American parents apply a race-conscious approach towards raising African American children. That is, parents must teach their children how to use the positive and negative racial implications of being an African American to develop a strong academic identity. Teachers must play a critical role in the development of a strong African

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American student academic identity by self assessing their racial worldview. Specifically, teachers must examine how race has impacted their lives and views of people from other cultures and ethnicities. They must investigate how race influenced them during their formative years, preservice years, and inservice years. Principals must set the agenda for empowering African American students. They can best accomplish this goal by facilitating African American students’ full inclusion into the school community. To accomplish this goal, principals must engage in activities that include but are not limited to:

The Skin They’re In • • • •

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Guiding teachers’ commitment to forming meaningful academic and nonacademic relationships with African American students. Soliciting parental support in strongly encouraging African American students to enroll in advanced classes. Empowering guidance counselors to facilitate African American students’ ability to affirm their racial identity in ethnically relevant school “spaces.” Forming ad hoc committees to investigate the connection between Black racial identity development and achievement among African American students, especially students with behavioral issues in school. Engaging all school personnel in race-based discussions on how to prevent the structural and classroom perpetuation of racial inequities in schools. Translating school wide race-based discussions into new and improved academic and social practices for creating equitable learning experiences for African American students. These strategies will arouse and sustain strong relationships between African

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American homes and schools. The strategies would also create a home-to-school and school-to-home support system that acknowledges, embraces, and addresses the race, culture, and heritage of African American students in Irving Independent School District.

The Skin They’re In ii. Introduction One of the most pressing issues in schools today is African American students. Much research has focused on the educational trajectory of African American students. The findings continue to show that African American students lag behind Caucasian American students, Hispanic American students, and Asian Americans in academic

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achievement. In addition, the findings continually reveal that African American students are twice as likely to be suspended and expelled from school as students from other ethnic groups. These findings implicate the importance of investigating possible causes of African American students’ unsuccessful school experiences. Thus, the purpose of this report is to present the findings from my investigation into African American students’ schooling experiences in Irving Independent School District. Hence the Title “The Skin They’re In: An In-Depth Analysis of African American Students from Irving Independent School District.” Using student voice as a guide, I provide insightful and realistic findings about African American students’ perceptions regarding their feelings about being a Black student in Irving Independent School District’s secondary schools. This report is divided into four sections. The first section-“The Skin They’re In: African American Student Findings”-denotes African American students’ perceptions of being apart of the African American race and how these feelings are manifested in their daily school experiences. The second section- “The Skin They’re In: Comparing Disciplined & Undisciplined African American Students”-provides findings regarding the differences in perceptions of race, racism, and school between African American students without behavioral problems

The Skin They’re In and African American students with behavioral problems in Irving Independent School District schools. The third section-“The Skin They’re In: Teacher Findings”-provides insight about teachers’ perceptions of African American students. In this section, I provide quantitative and qualitative data that illuminate the determinants of teachers’ approaches to working with African American students.

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The final sections provide implications for how parents, teachers, and principals can enhance their commitment to empowering African American students in Irving Independent School District. Overall, the findings from this report should serve as a foundation for understanding and teaching to the academic and behavioral needs of African American students in Irving Independent School District.

The Skin They’re In I. The Skin They’re In Student Findings I conducted 44 focused group sessions with 143 African American students from 4 high schools and 7 middle schools. The students were divided into two groups: African American students who did not have behavioral issues in school and African American students who had behavioral issues in schools.

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I began each session by introducing myself to the students. I would then explain my purpose for meeting with them. I would also provide the students with the option to remain in the session or leave the session if they did not want to participate in the activities. After exchanging pleasantries with the students, I would then ask the students to give their names and share at least one positive thing about themselves. Some students struggled with describing a positive characteristic about themselves. In these instances, I would describe a positive characteristic about these students. The students were then able to use my feedback to describe other positive characteristics about themselves. Afterwards, I would engage the students in a series of activities and discussions about race. The purpose of these activities was to gain insight on the students’ internal purview and external purview about race. For the purposes of this report, I define internal purview as personal feelings and perceptions about being apart of the African American race. External purview is the perceptions of and feelings about other people’s views of the African American race. What follows is a description of findings from the activities and discussions related to these purviews.

The Skin They’re In Internal purview I engaged the African American students in a few activities to determine their perceptions of being Black. I provided the students with two writing prompts. The first writing prompt was entitled “Being Black.” The second prompt was entitled “Black is Beautiful.” Both prompts were used to determine how African American students constructed their meanings of being apart of the African American race. The students wrote a variety of responses to the “Being Black” prompt. Some

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responses highlighted feelings of uniqueness and pride about being Black. For example, an African American male wrote, “Being Black is having an amazing culture and background that only Black people can have. We do things that no one else does. It’s just the way we take care and support each other.” Another African American male indicated that, “Being Black is about being strong-minded, open hearted, and tough. Ready for the fight-not afraid to take that chance.” Other African American students equated their blackness to overcoming struggle that is resultant of being apart of the Black race. Their responses further showed that African Americans, as a whole, have and will continue to overcome this struggle because of their race. For example, an African American female defined the notion of “Being Black” as a “Strong Struggle.” The student wrote, “I would say a ‘Strong Struggle’. Your family and everybody else fights together no matter what, even when the world is turned against you. Don’t give up, because I believe things get better at the end.”

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Other representative writings for this theme are as follows: “Being Black is a rollercoaster-we have our ups and downs but either way we know how to make it. We know how to be strong.” “My mother says that no one wants a dummy and even though racist and prejudice isn’t gone so much, we as a people will always have it harder than the little snakes. For me, I like to set standards that can’t be broken and I work to achieve my success.” Along those same lines, one African American student described the “struggle” in the context of race. Specifically, this student purported that the “struggle” represented the differences between being Black and White in America. She wrote, “As a society, being Black is hard in this world. When you stack your life up to a White person, we start out on a lower level in society and we work twice as hard to get on top next to a White man. This world we live in isn’t made to fit a Black man, but being Black allows me to work harder than any other person.” A few African American students denoted that “Being Black” warranted the need to be a true representation of the African American race. For example, consider the following African American female’s reflection: “I’ve seen the differences in other races when it comes to this community (Irving). It is my job and duty to be the best that I can be and add a positive representation of my race. My genes naturally add to my talent and abilities.” Another student (African American male) indicated that “Being Black is being apart of a group who truly stands out on their own in respect, pride, and self esteem.” With regards to “Black is Beautiful”, students provided diverse responses to describing the aesthetic aspects of being an African American person. For these students,

The Skin They’re In the “Beauty of Blackness” was centered on three themes: Strength, Pride, and Authenticity. Better stated, being Black means that you have the strength to withstand societal pressures that are placed on African American people. You also maintain a strong sense of pride in being apart of the African American race. Finally, you remain true to ensuring that your behavior and actions are a true indication of the African American race. Listed below are sample student descriptions for each of these themes. Strength

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“Because we are strong individuals that has overcome so many things. I believe we are stronger than any other race.” “The reason Black is beautiful is because we’re smart, we’re strong and we’re work for things and plus we came in all different types of skin.” “Because it’s a strong race and not easily broken by people that try to bring us down.” Pride “It means don’t know other color has any stronger meaning that the word Black.” “Is someone who is not ashamed of his /her race and has a big heart for other people and especially God.” “I think it means that you should be proud to be Black.” Authenticity “It means as a Black person, to keep being Black, not ghetto Black.” “It means that you’re black (of course) and that you don’t really care about what people think of you.”

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During my discussion of these statements with some of the students, other students made statements to further emphasize the beautiful aspects of being an African American person. For example, at the conclusion of this activity with a group of African American students at one of the middle schools, An African American girl said, “For me, Black is beautiful because physically we have the dark brown, light brown, the rich chocolate brown that looks amazing, and our features are so beautiful.” (Other students in the group begin to beam with pride). “Mentally we are beautiful because we have to work hard and by working hard we accomplish many things. We never give up and we are strong hearted and that makes Black beautiful. Black is strong, and powerful. That is what make it so gorgeous is that fact that Black people have become strong.” Another African American student (male) then emphatically added, “I think the fact that we came from a history of cleaning and following behind other people’s footsteps and now today have shown others that our color is not going to stop us from achieving what we want. We have went from following others to making a stand and leading others.” To further extend my understanding of African American students’ views of Blackness, I conducted an activity entitled “A Person vs. a Black Person” with students on several campuses. The purpose of this activity was to determine if and when the students wanted to be identified as either being a Black person or just a person. Some students indicated that they wanted to be recognized for being an African American person. Other students discussed the importance of being seen as just a person.

The Skin They’re In For example, an African American female student began the conversation by stating, “I want to be seen as an African American, because some people have the thought that Black people can’t be successful and smart and I want to change that.” Another African American female student expressed a different view. She said,

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“I’m proud of my race, but I’m not defined by my color.” Similarly, an African American male stated, “I want to be looked at as a whole not just classified in one race but a whole.” On some campuses, I found that African American students wanted to be recognized as both African Americans and just people. For these students, the recognition of either category was contingent upon the situation. When hearing the latter response, I asked a few additional questions of the students. I asked the students if and when they desired to be recognized as just a person at school. The students’ responses reflected two situations. Some students wanted to be recognized only as a person when their teachers were conducting whole class activities with students. As an example, an African American female student said, “When teachers make decisions for students as a whole, I want to be apart of a whole, not a subsection with my friends.” Numerous African American students repeatedly indicated that they wanted to be seen as just a person when they were in their Honors or AP classes. The reason is that these students were usually either one or apart of a few African American students in these classes. For instance, An African American female said, “It is so important to be recognized as just a person when I am the only African American in Honors because I’m usually the only African American in the situation.” Another African American female student expressed similar feelings. This student also emphasized the importance of being

The Skin They’re In a person in these classes when class discussions focused on African American people. She said, “When we have discussions about Black people or bad things about my people.” After holding this discussion with the students, I asked the students to explain when they would like to be recognized as an African American person at school. The

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students indicated that they would like to be recognized in accordance to their race when they accomplished school related goals or the school is having a cultural celebration for students. As an example, An African American male student indicated “For me, it’s mostly when an African American receives recognition for the positive things that occur at school.” During a group discussion at the middle school, another African American male student related, “When I am taking a test, I want to go in the African American percentage to give credit to my heritage.” With regard to culture, an African American female commented, “When we inquire about heritage and backgrounds during the celebration of events, I want my Blackness to be seen.” To provide a comparative analysis to the first discussion, I would often ask the students to explain when they were actually recognized as a person and African American person at school. All of the students indicated that they were often recognized as just a person with their friends. But the students believed that they were often categorized by race in the classroom. Representative comments regarding this belief are as follows: “I find that I’m mostly seen as a Black student in my AP classes. I’ve learned to tolerate it, but it bothers me.”

The Skin They’re In “During my AP classes, and it’s really awkward.” “When I am the only African American in my classes. This makes me feel awkward and lonely, also picked on by the teacher-not intentionally though.” To bring closure to the student discussions about being apart of the African

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American race, I would ask some of the students to write about the most beautiful Black person in this world. I would engage other groups of students in a discussion on how they would enhance the lives of African American people. These topics were used to determine the students’ views of other people from the African American race. On all of the campuses, I found that the students’ responses regarding beautiful African American people were categorized by gender. That is, most of the African American boys identified African American celebrities as being the most African American people in the world. The African American girls, on the other hand, mostly believe that their mothers or another family member was the most beautiful person in the world. With the exception of two African American males, African American boys mostly cited African American female entertainers-specifically, Beyonce Knowles-as the most beautiful person in the world. The boys chose this entertainer because of her physical attributes. An African American male wrote, “The most beautiful Black person in the world is Beyonce. The reason is that she is superfine.” Another African American male student explained, “Beyonce is just so fine, she is the best looking African American in the world.” One African American male described the internal and external attributes of Beyonce’s beauty. This student wrote, “The most beautiful Black person in the world

The Skin They’re In is…Beyonce. She is more than her racy, risqué costumes. Beyonce is physically

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attractive, yet her philanthropy makes her beautiful. She is so humble when speaking and that is the ways things should be.” Along those same lines, two African American males indicated that their mothers were the most Black people in the world. They also chose their mothers because of characteristics instead of physical beauty. One male wrote, “My mom is the most beautiful Black person in the world, because she just makes things work out for my family and me.” The other male explained, “My mom is the best and most beautiful Black person in the world, because she just always knows what to do and when to do it.” The African American females’ decision to equate their mothers to beauty was mostly indicative of internal attributes and characteristics. Listed below are examples of these explanations: “The most beautiful Black person in the world is my mother because she has taught me everything she knows and she has mad the right choices in life that sets me up to make the right choices in life.” “The most beautiful person in the world is my mom because she always does what needs to get done, no matter what happens.” “The most beautiful Black person in the world is my mother. She encourages me in a lot of ways and is a great influence in my life.” Like the African American males, one African American girl indicated that an African American female celebrity was the most beautiful African American person in the world. Unlike her male counterparts, this student cited the characteristics and accomplishments as the reasons for this celebrity’s beauty.

The Skin They’re In The student wrote, “The most beautiful Black person in the world is Oprah

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Winfrey, because she is the true image of African Americans fitting into the “all White” community. I mean she’s one of the richest women in the world. She has her own network and TV. show. A lot of White people don’t have that. They have the TV shows, but not the networks.” This comment strongly suggests that this student defines a beautiful African American person as an individual who simultaneously assimilates to and transcends the expectations of White standards, norms, and achievements. With regards to the discussion on enhancing African American life, the students indicated that they would use a variety of approaches to towards helping other African American people. All of the approaches focused on societal uplift. The follow section provides the forms of uplift that would be used to other African American people to achieve fulfilled lives. Academic Uplift “If I could do one thing to help African Americans I would give them an environment at school and at home to where they can actually relate.” “Help them get good educations for future careers.” “I would create more opportunities for African Americans to go to college.” “I would give them more help in school.” “Help them to graduate from high school and college.”* Social Uplift “I would stop racism, because its’ still going on” * “Give those who truly need another chance another chance.” “Create better living conditions for African Americans.” “Stop them from killing and robbing people.” “Stop them from resorting to becoming gang members because they don’t have family.” “I would help African Americans by talking to them about confidence, to encourage them to do the right thing.” “Help African Americans get out of the hood.” “Decrease teen pregnancy, aids, and drug use.” Economic Uplift “Give more African Americans jobs.”* “Open more Black colleges for African Americans.” “Don’t make college tuition so expensive, because people can’t pay it all.” “Stop them having to go to drastic measures to feed their families.”

The Skin They’re In Religious Uplift “Speak more about God.” “Let it be known that faith holds the future.” *Mentioned by Students From Every Campus External Purview

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As mentioned the external purview described African American students’ views about other people’s perceptions of the African American race. I would usually facilitate these discussions with conversations about racism. The first part of the discussion focused on how students defined racism. The second part of the discussion focused on if students experienced racism. Prior to discussing racism, I would often ask students to write a definition of racism. I often found that students gave race-conscious descriptions and race-centric of racism descriptions. Race-conscious descriptions denoted that racism is when a people experience some form of discrimination because of their race. Race-centric descriptions were more focused on discrimination against African American people. These descriptions focused solely on highlighting African American people as being the victims of discrimination. The chart below provides a description of these categories of racism.

The Skin They’re In Descriptions of Racism School Race-Conscious “I define racism as when some is constant is constantly making harsh comments, jokers, or simply being rude to a certain race.” “Racism is when people from a different race often hate or despise a certain race and that causes problems to break out and tension to form.” “Being treated poorly or put down because of your race. Harsher punishment or stricter guidelines for different races.” High School Comments “Racism is when somebody has a prejudice nature towards a person due to their race. It can also be towards and object or idea.” “When you are unfairly judged or mistreated because of the color of your skin, or who your ancestors were” Race Centric

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Middle School Comments

“When White people don’t treat us the same way as they treat themselves. Like they have power over us, or like we’re their dogs and they train to train us.” “Racism is when White people or Mexican say words or do some actions that are done for hate and disliking Black people.” “When Blacks are discriminated against for no reason.” “Racism to me is White people against Black.” “Racism to me is not being able to let a person have a full chance at something just because of the color of their skin. For shutting someone out just cause their ‘black’.”

“When people don’t like Black people because “Racism is discrimination towards a group based of the color of their skin.” on personal bias or hatred towards their race. A separation of people or cultures based on the bias of others not the same as their own.”

The Skin They’re In Many of the African American students reported that they experienced some of racism in their lives. On African female student indicated that when she a little girl, she

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accompanied her paternal grandmother to the store to buy some sugar. According to her, as they walked passed a White man’s house, the man walked onto his lawn and confronted them. The man said, “Get away from my lawn, you nigger.” The man also threatened to shoot the girl and her grandmother. As a result, they both ran back to their home. As another example, An African American female discussed her experiences with racism during an out-of-town trip with her mother. According to this student, she and her mother were assisting her maternal grandfather with installing monitors into truck stop areas. When she and her mother walked into one of the truck stops, a White man said, “I didn’t know that they allow mutts into the building.” Confused, she looked to see how her mother would respond to the situation. Before her mother could respond to the man, he pointed at both of them and said, “Get out, mutts!” The students said that she was hurt by the incident. As a follow-up to this discussion, I decided to investigate the extent to which these students believed that racism would affect their lives in the future. I prefaced this idea by first asking the students to inform me of their future career pursuits. The answers to this inquiry ranged from doctors and lawyers to engineers and athletes. After receiving this answer, I posed the following question to the students, “Do you believe that you will have more of a difficult time with achieving your career goals because of your race or your gender?” A few African American females indicated that gender or race and gender. But most of the students indicated that race would present challenges to them as they

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worked towards achieving their career goals. As we continued to discuss race from this perspective, I learned that their beliefs about race and racism were influenced by four factors: Home, Community, Media, and School. Home-“My Mom and The White Lady” Many students talked about how their parents have and continue to prepare them for overcoming racism. Their parents prepare them through direct and indirect communication. Direct communication is when African American parents or other family members explicitly inform African American students about how racism impacts African American communities. Indirect communication is when the African American students observe their parents’ experiences with racism. According to many of these students, they’ve learned how racism impacts their parents’ job situations. For example, using direct communication, one African American male’s mother continually talks to him about how being Black may prevent him from getting a job. In responding to a writing prompt regarding home influence, an African American female wrote, “At home, we talk about equal opportunity a lot. How Blacks don’t have the same privileges as Whites. How certain jobs are designed only for White people.” Along those same lines, An African American female stated, “At home usually my parents or mostly my dad talks about how when you’re Black that things don’t come easy. That I have to work hard for everything I get.” Through indirect observations, some African American students witnessed their parents being shortchanged in the workforce because of their race. For example, an African American female wrote “Like a week ago, my mom has been training a White lady to fill her position, because my mother was about to get a promotion. My mom is

The Skin They’re In very experienced, and does as an excellent job at what she does. She forecloses on people’s homes. Well I guess since the lady was White, they thought she’d be a better look for the managing position of the company. So they gave the job to her, and almost laid my mom off.”

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On another secondary campus, an African American female student responded to this discussion with the following story: “We don’t have a man in our house, therefore my mother needed to go out and find a job. My mother had been training for this job for quite some time now and thought she would get it-no problem. She went to the interview for the job and while there was a White woman was applying for the same job. My mother knew that she had more experience than the other woman. After they both interviewed and went home to wait for their calls saying who got it. My mother got the call saying that she would make a fine addition to any staff, but we are going to decline your application.” When the student read this story to the group, an African American male immediately told a story about how racism impact his dad in the context of the justice system. The student said, “My dad and his friend were doing what they did and ended up getting arrested by the cops. So my dad went to escape with his friend. They ran different ways and both of the cops chased after my dad but not the White person. The cops beat my dad and sent him to jail for 4.5 years, and they still never found the White Person.”

The Skin They’re In Notwithstanding, many African American students indicated that their parents have taught them to not let racism prevent them from becoming successful individuals. Examples of this resiliency are as follows:

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“At home, my mom raised me to never let anyone tell me I can’t because of my skin color or what she’s been through.”-African American Female “My mom has always told that a lot Black people get the bad end of a situation because of being black, I can still be anything that I want to be.”-African American Male “My T Lady (mom) always told me that it’s up to me to make a difference and just know that everybody’s not going to want to help you because you are black. So I got to take a chance and go for it by myself.”-African American Male “My mother always told me that most people don’t wanna see you be successful in life because you are Black and that as soon as I graduate, things gone be harder for me. But I can’t let that stop me and I must prove those people wrong every time.”-African American Female. “My mother told us that it’s already hard me being an African American. So we already have strikes against us-So the only way to keep from getting any more strikes is by being the best that I can be.”-African American Female

The Skin They’re In Community-“Whites Run The Show” In addition to discussing the community aspects of race with African American students, I conducted a few activities to determine how the community influenced their perceptions of racial differences in America. On most of the campuses, I conducted the

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activity “Who gets the job” with students. In this activity, I provide the students with the following scenario for review: Who Gets The Job A company advertises vacancies for two positions. The first position is for a salesperson. The second position is for a sales manager. The company preferred that candidates for both the salesperson position and sales manager position to be at least 25 years old and have 4 years worth of work experience. Applicants for the sales management position were required to have a 4 year college degree. Posted images of an A Some Campuses, I did not 5 people apply for and received interviews for both jobs. The candidates are as follows: A. An African American man who has a 4 year college degree in business management and 7 years worth of driving experience. B. A Hispanic woman who has a 4 year college degree in pre-medicine and 8 years worth of driving experience. C. An Asian Woman who has a 4 year college degree in science education and 9 years worth of driving experience. D. A Caucasian American woman who has a 4 year college degree in history and 5 years worth of driving experience. E. A Hispanic man who has a 4 year college degree in computer science and 6 years worth of driving experience.

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After providing students with time to review the vignette, I posted pictures of a Hispanic woman, Caucasian American woman, African American man, Hispanic man, and Asian woman on poster board for students to view. I also reviewed the bottom portion with them. I asked them to determine who would (not should) be the first person to be offered the salesperson position. I then proceeded with the following remarks: “If the first person rejected the job offer, who would be the second person to be offered the salesperson position? If the second person rejected the job offer, who would be the third person to be offered the salesperson position? If the third person rejected the job offer, who would be the fourth person to be offered the salesperson position? If the fourth person rejected the job offer, who would be the last person to be offered the salesperson position?” I then asked the students to use the same logic to determine who would be the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth person to be offered the sales manager position. The students were then instructed to record their answers and reasons in the “Who Gets The Job?” diagram below. Who Gets The Job? Person 1 2 3 4 5 Salesperson Reason Person 1 2 3 4 5 Sales Manager Reason

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The findings for the salesperson position showed that the most commonly chosen applicants were selected because of credentials and race. With regards to credentials, the most commonly chosen people to receive the initial offer were the African American male and the Asian woman. Some students chose the African American male because of his educational degree. Sample comments about the African American man included but are not limited to: “He is a man, and he has a degree in business management.” “Because he has a degree in business management.” “Because he went to college and study business management.” “Because he knows more about business management.” “Because his college degree makes him the best suited for this job.” Some students chose the Asian woman because of here work experience. For example, one student wrote, “ It’s simple-the Asian woman has the most work experience, and should, therefore, be offered the job.” As another example, a student related, “The Asian woman has the most job experience.” The most commonly chosen racially influenced applicants were the Hispanic man and Hispanic woman and Caucasian American woman. The students chose the Hispanic applicants because of their work ethic and bilingualism. The students chose the Caucasian American woman because of perceiving her race as representation power, trust, leadership, and authority. A student who chose the Hispanic man wrote, “ Hispanic men are just hard workers and I know that they would work hard at this position.” Along those same lines,

The Skin They’re In a student chose the Hispanic man because “they probably feel he is good with cars.” Another student chose the Hispanic woman, describing her as being “bilingual”.

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Students used very direct communication to explain their rationale for explaining why the Caucasian American woman would be the first person to be offered the sales person position. Some of the most common written descriptions were “She is White”, “Her race”, “White woman”, and “Race”. Other students provided more in-depth reasoning for justifying their beliefs in why race would influence the Caucasian woman’s selection for the salesperson position. One student wrote, “People most likely will choose a White woman with a degree and experience.” Another student expressed the same sentiment in the following way: “Typically Caucasians are offered jobs first because of their ‘knowledge’”. As another example, a student wrote, “I believe this job is looking for a woman, and I believe the White woman will be trusted the most.” Another similar comment was “People believe White women are more personable.” The students’ choices for the last person to be offered the job were based on race, race and gender, and credentials. Listed below are some examples for each of these themes. Race “Because he is a Black man.” “The African American mane would be the last person because typically Blacks are looked down upon because of how some act and because some of Black students aren’t as knowledged as Whites.” “Black man-stereotypically, Black men aren’t as intelligent and personable.” “Not typical for Asian women to sell cars.”

The Skin They’re In Race & Gender “I have notice that companies often look past Hispanic women.” “Because she is a woman and Hispanic. And women aren’t really wanted in the work field and she is a minority.” “Most likely because she is a woman and Asian.” Credentials “The Hispanic woman wouldn’t be offered the job because she has a degree in premedicine.” “The Caucasian American woman because just knowing about history doesn’t really know about sales.” “The Asian woman has good experience but for more about a science job.”

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“The Caucasian American woman-History has nothing to do with sales person position.” “The Caucasian American woman-least experience.” “The Caucasian American woman-because she has a 4 year degree in history.” “The White woman because of low experience in driving.” Some of the responses for the sales management position were based on credentials. For example, several students indicated that the African American male would be offered the position because of his degree in business management. In addition, a few other students chose the Asian woman because of her work experience. Along those same lines, several students believed that because of their lack of work experience, The Caucaisan American woman and Asian woman would be the last people to be offered the sales management position.

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However, majority of the responses for the sales management position were based on race. Most of the students indicated that the Caucasian American woman would be the first person to be offered the sales manager position. In addition, they strongly believed that the African American man would be the last person to be offered the sales manager position. The students believed that the Caucasian American woman would be given the sales management position, because Caucasian American people are perceived as being privileged to hold positions of power, authority, and influence in society. According to these students, Caucasian American people appear to represent the ideal images of trustworthiness, responsibility, and respect in the community. For example, a student wrote, “The White woman would get the job because she would appear to be most capable to many people, even though she is under qualified.” Another student wrote, “They would probably feel that the White woman is the most responsible person for the management position.” Other representative comments are as follows: “She is Caucasian, trusty looking.” “White woman because she would appear smarter, more qualified, and more capable.” “A Caucasian Woman-is association with wealth, power, and responsibility.” “She probably looks like she would be more responsible and a well rounded person.” “The Caucasian woman-they are gonna feel that she is more reliable and responsible. They probably feel that she is more qualified for the job just because she is White (her looks).”

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“I put the White woman first because most Caucasian people are always the first to get a job.” “The White woman because Caucasians are offered the job first because of their knowledge.” Conversely, the students believed that the African American male would be the last person to be offered the sale management position because of the African American male’s image. Specifically, the students believe that African American males have a very negative image in society. Because of this image, they will receive fewer opportunities to achieve a successful career. One student wrote, “The Black man would be the last person to be offered the job. Black men have the hardest time getting jobs because of the negative stereotypes that they carry.” Another student explained, “The Black man because they probably would think that he is an ex-prisoner and irresponsible. And they he is racist and stuff.” Along those same lines, another student responded to this prompt by writing that “men who are Black sometimes are looked at as threatening and unapproachable.” Similarly, several students related the African American male’s image to their belief in that a negative stereotypical image exists for all African American people. Sample comments include but are not limited to: “I put the African American man because a lot of times people think African Americans aren’t good enough for a job.” “The Black man because African Americans are perceived as not really wanting to do anything with their lives.”

The Skin They’re In “The Black man because society believes that all Black people are ghetto and not as knowledged as White people are. They look down on us. They want to see ‘how we’re going to mess up this time.’” A few students indicated that the African American man would not be initially offered the management position, because they don’t fit the image of management in society. For example, a student wrote, “I don’t think that these positions are normally held for non Whites.” Another student wrote, “African American men don’t get management positions.” After allowing the students to read their answers to each other, I discussed the responses with the students. I asked the students to explain why they mostly chose the Caucasian American woman for the management position. On one of the campuses, an

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African American student summarized her peers’ thoughts and comments regarding this activity with the comment “Whites run the show.” More specifically, she stated, “Look Mr. Mack, It’s like this-Whites run the show. They are usually the most educated and most liked. And they are gonna always get the first and best opportunities to be in charge and do things like handle the money and the people. They are also gonna be most likely to own businesses.” As I looked around the room, I could see that the all of the students were in agreement with the students’ beliefs. On one campus, however, two African American students provided a different response regarding the first choice for the sales manager position. An African American male and African American female indicated that the African American man would be the first person to be offered the sales management position. In addition, the Caucasian American female would be the last person to be offered the position. Like other students,

The Skin They’re In they based their reasoning on race instead of credentials. But unlike the other students,

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the racial aspects of their reasoning suggested that the positions would be given to these candidates because of negative stereotypes. The African American female stated, “I really think that they would choose the African American man because he would not let nobody get away with not paying their payment on time.” She continued, “The White woman would be the last person to be offered the job because she’s White and they would probably try to cheat her out of a deal.” The African American male stated, “Yeah, I think that definitely the Black man would get the Sales manager job because he would know how to take care of business and he would not let customers try to run over him and talk him out of a decision.” According to this student, the Caucasian American woman “wouldn’t be taken seriously because she would probably not know about business and would be disrespected daily.” In addition to “Who Gets the Job,” I engaged students groups in a few additional activities to determine their perceptions of race and community. At one of the high school campuses, I conducted an activity entitled “Is That You” with a group of high achieving African American students. To start the activity, I provided all of the students with 10 note cards. I then showed PowerPoint of slides of words that represented characteristics and attributes about people. The words were energetic, assertive, nice, smart, attractive, 2 parents, nice, successful, expressive, assertive, athletic, professional, determined, smart, hyper, talkative, mean, 1-parent, and loud. As I showed a power points slide for the words, the students copied the words that represented them. I then divided the students into three groups: Race, Gender, and Social Class. I then directed the students to identify all of the

The Skin They’re In common words for their groups. Afterwards, using community experiences as a guide, the students assigned the words to specific racial, gender, and social class categories. The chart below depicts the students’ placement of the words in accordance to race, gender, and social class. Student Depictions of Community’s Perceptions of Characteristics Regarding Racial, Gender, and Social Class Classification Race White Successful* 2-Parents Smart* Professional* Talkative Hyper Black Athletic Energetic* Assertive* Mean Loud Aggressive Average 1-Parent Attractive* Gender Male Female Athletic* Average Smart* Energetic Hyper Mean* Assertive* Determined* Nice* Successful* Talkative Social Class Rich Energetic* Assertive* Nice* Smart* Attractive* 2 Parents Successful* Expressive* Athletic

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Poor Determined*

Professional *Common characteristic among all of the members of the group

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After allowing the student groups to explain the words for each category, I asked the students to explain the extent to how the categories affected their lives. The students indicated that race has had the most significant influence on their lives. The reason is that they experienced how their communities assigned these characteristics to them. I then asked the students if they believed that they have any advantages and disadvantages to being an African American person. All of the students explained that they do have both advantages and disadvantages because of their skin color. All of the African American females indicated that their significant advantage to being Black in school and the community was they were treated better than Black males. One of the African American females said, “I must admit that the only advantage for me is that I am still treated better than Black males.” Another African American female said, “True that. We still get more opportunities than Black male students.” Another African American female said, “But most important, we are at an advantage because we get to show that Black females are smart and not just the ‘typical’ black girl.” On the other hand, the African females indicated that they are disadvantaged because of how they are portrayed by others, especially in comparison Caucasian American females. One of the African American females lamented, “I hate the fact the people in the community and at school treat us inferior to White females.” Another African American female denoted that she was “tired of always having to be seen as second to White girls in school and the community.” The other African females indicated that they experience the negative images that are associated with being African American and female in society. One of the females stated, “I feel that I am at a big disadvantage in the community because I am Black.” She

The Skin They’re In continued, “And from what I can see and feel, Black and female means aggressive and dumb to a lot of people.” Another African American female expressed similar views about being African American. She said, “I feel you on that one, girl. It’s just amazing how we, as Black females, are always stereotyped to be stupid, dumb, or rude.”

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When I asked the African American males to discuss their advantages, I received very few responses. In fact, one of the African American males stated, “What if you can’t think of an advantage, because I really can’t see in advantage to looking like me in this community.” Another African American male then replied, “You know we are at an advantage when it comes to sports. We are seen as being very athletic.” In response to this comment, an African American male said, “Yeah, I know all about it, because the only reason that people truly like me is because of my basketball skills” (The rest of the students laugh at his comment.) The African American males seemed to be more passionate about sharing their views regarding the disadvantage of being an African American person in society. One of the African American males opened this discussion by stating, “I know that I’m gonna always have to worry about being pulled over by the po po (police) because I am a black male.” Another African American male lamented, “Yeah and don’t forget about how we are judged in society because of our race.” In concluding the discussion, an African American male said, “In so many ways at school and the community, I just think that people just expect me to perform less because I’m Black.” He continued, “And that’s something that we as Blacks and Black males will have to continue to deal with.” In holding discussions with students from other campuses, I found that the community had a similar impact on their perceptions of race. Many of the discussions

The Skin They’re In centered on racial profiling. Many of the students believed that they experience racial profiling in different community venues.

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From one African American male student’s point of view, African Americans are profiled as thugs and criminals. This student said, “In the community, you are thought of as a thief.” He further lamented, “You walk into a store and you are being followed by a White man because that’s all they think we do.” This student further explained that this type of profiling also prevents African Americans from being hired to manage convenience stores. Another African American male remarked, “When me and my friends are in a ‘slab’ (old car), we are seen as doing something illegal. And like clockwork, the police stops us for no real reason-other than being Black.” Similarly, an African American female added, “Yo, in the community, I have noticed how store owners look at you like you don’t have enough money to shop there.” On several campuses, I asked students to provide written descriptions of community experiences with race. One African American girl responded to this request with the following story: Four of my guy friends and I all went across the street from my house into an apartment complex. A little White girl walked around the corner and seen us sitting there, so she stops. She starts to walk again, but along the wall of the apartment building. After being gone for a while, she came back and we were all still sitting there. Again she walks along the wall, back the same ways she came. Two minutes later, I’m not sure if the lady comes outside. She tells use that we need to leave, because the children can’t come outside and play because we are there, and we are not welcome. We told her that we are not doing anything. But she said we still needed to leave because we weren’t welcomed there.

The Skin They’re In Media-“Betrayal Portrayals”

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The African American students were very critical of the media’s perpetuation of racism. For most of these students, the media portrayed African Americans as being inferior to Caucasian American people. An African American male indicated that the media “portrays us as bad people because of our background and the history in which we come from.” An African American female said, “Just look at how on TV and in magazines, there is mostly White people and little Blacks. I mean there are not a lot of Blacks on TV-only if it is a Black film.” Another African American male talked about media differences in portraying African American athletes and Caucasian American athletes. He said, “Really the lessons that I’ve learned come from the media. Because if you think about it-when the world found out that Michael Phelps was using marijuana, nothing happened to him.” The student continued, “He even kept his spot in the Olympics. But Barry Bonds, he didn’t use a heavy dosage of steroids. Yet yall know what happened to him-he got taken out of the hall of fame and gets fired.” An African American female talked about how the media treats President Barack Obama. She said, “You know Fox News never calls the First Black President President Obama. They just say Obama. Now if that’s not racism, I don’t know what is.” On one of the high school campuses, the African American students talked about the Henry Louis Gates ordeal. Because the students could not remember his name, they referred to him as the “Black Professor”. They seemed to believe that he was arrested because of his race. They also perceived that the media portrayed the professor as being the person who violated the law instead of the police officer. In summarizing his

The Skin They’re In thoughts, one student wrote, “If that was a White professor, none of this would have happened.” School-“Race is an Issue” School interactions were one of the most influential factors on the African

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American students’ views of race. The students defined the racial aspects of their school experiences in accordance to student-to-student interactions and students-to teacherinteractions. In this section, I will describe the findings from the writing activities and group discussions with these students. Student to Student interactions The African American students believed that race influenced Caucasian American students’ and Hispanic American students’ interactions with them. For example, one group of African American students described how the All-White student council used their power and influence to control the outcomes of the “Senior Superlatives” awards. One student said, “I feel like the student council made it to where the White seniors won the awards that were about being smart and intelligent and the Black students won the athletic awards and awards that were about having a sense of humor.” This group of students also discussed their perceptions of how the Caucasian American students seemed to control all of the major organizations on campus. One student said, “It’s very hard for a Black student to be heard in these organizations. I think that this is because the White students are in control and they want and get to make thing to happen in ways to benefit them.”

The Skin They’re In On another campus, students described race relations with students through intentional separatism between ethnic groups. In responding to a writing prompt regarding this topic, a student wrote, “When I go to lunch, I can see how changes come

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between your race; like when you hang around your friends in class that’s different color of your skin, every thing is cool. But when we get to lunch, we are made to feel that we must separate. You go with your race and I go with mine. I want to hang out with the friends I know from different colors, because this shouldn’t change you. But I don’t think that Mexicans or Whites want to be that way with us.” Another student wrote, “When they (Caucasian Americans and Hispanic Americans) are in their own race, they like to act like themselves and they’re comfortable with their actions, but when they’re with another race, they seem lost and try to fit in. I feel they are not being true to themselves, because a lot of times, I find that they never really wanted to be around us (African Americans). Trying to fit in only makes it worse. An African American girl described how she experienced racial rejection when trying to express interest in Caucasian American boys and Hispanic American boys. She wrote, “I’ll have good, passionate, smart conversations with a guy. Think I am actually getting to know them. And most of the time, they see that I’m different than the typical ‘Black girl.’ But even if I know them better than any other girl or make them laugh nonstop, it’s never good enough. All they look at is my skin color and say “Oh what will everybody say.” They don’t even wanna take that chance. It just sucks some times, because even thought they don’t say it to your face, you know they are thinking it.” On some campuses, the students indicated that they and Caucasian American students and Hispanic American students do make racial jokes about each other.

The Skin They’re In However, many of these students did not feel good about these experiences. During a focused group discussion with students, An African American girl said, “Yeah we joke

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with Whites and Mexicans. But I don’t think that they know what we go through. So they make jokes or say other little things thinking that it won’t affect us when it actually does.” When I asked for a further explanation, an African American male said, “One of the ongoing jokes on this campus is ‘Guess which race won’t have a father’s day?’” I then said, “Well, who?” The student then replied, “African Americans-because a lot of times, our dads are not there with or for us.” Another African American female then added, “Yeah, and I know we are joking-but that takes it a little too far and I don’t like it.” Overall, the African American students from all of the groups perceived that Caucasian American students were the “Standard” for their schools. That is, Caucasian American students were viewed as being the best group of students on their campuses. Furthermore, I noticed that when campuses mostly consisted of Hispanic American students, Hispanic American students were considered to be the second best group of students on the campus. When campuses consisted mostly of an even mixture of students, either African American students or Hispanic American students were considered to be the second best student group.`

The Skin They’re In Student to Teacher Interactions On all of the campuses, the African American students perceived that they experienced racism with their teachers. In a few cases, the African American students related racism to their experiences with Hispanic American teachers. In most cases, the students consistently perceived that they experienced racism with Caucasian American teachers. I often facilitated these discussions by asking students to provide me with examples of how they perceived that Caucasian American teachers-and Hispanic

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American teachers, in a few cases-were racist towards them. Students from each campus were able to write about and explain their rationale for believing that they experienced racism with these teachers. On one campus, African American students talked about teachers’ differential treatment of students in accordance to race. An African American female said, “I feel like Black people always getting put down when it comes to dress code.” She continued, “They are ready to send us to ISS when they have a problem with our style of dress. But if a White girl has a tight dress on, it’s okay for them. I just feel we should all be equal, but we’re not.” In another group discussion with students from the same campus, An African girl shared similar feelings about racial discrimination. She wrote, “When a crowd of Black people get together, we act like monkeys. But still, I feel that everybody act like something. At this school, Black students are always looked at as being ghetto and loud and I hate the fact the we always get blamed for something and other students (Caucasian Americans and Hispanic Americans) don’t get blamed for nothing. It’s to me because we are Black-that’s why. We are Black.”

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On another campus an African American male wrote, “This teacher calls me boy sometimes. The reason I think she calls me that is because my behavior and probably the fact that I’m Black. When another student (White) boy does something, she doesn’t call him boy. Probably because he has good behavior but that’s what I think.” Another African American male from this campus echoed similar sentiments. This student said, “You know, Mr. Mack, sometimes the teachers at this school try make us (African American students) feel like crap.” He continued, “When a Black person talks, we have to be quiet-they just declare out that we are too loud. But when other people (Caucasian American students and Hispanic American students) talk, they don’t say nothing. They let those students be as loud as they can be.” An African American female student added, “Yeah, and these teachers think they can get an attitude with us for questioning them.” She continued, “But as soon as we say something back, they ready to send the Black students to the office.” Finally, in summarizing his feelings, an African American male discussed his perceptions of African American students being singled out when they are in large groups. This student said, “You know at lunch, the Blacks will sit together, just as the Whites and Mexicans do, too.” The student further related, “All of us will get a little loud at times. And I can see how we (African American students) do often get a little louder than the other groups. If we are loud, the teachers are ready to separate us. But when the other races get a little loud, the teachers don’t say nothing. I feel that they need to tell them to be quiet, too. This hurts me to see that I’m different because I have a different color of skin. I just want the world to be equal because If I was White, I would be treated

The Skin They’re In the same as Whites. But I wanna be Black-and still treated equal, especially in the lunchroom.”

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Many African American students believed that teachers showed racism because of having high expectations for Caucasian American and Hispanic American students and low expectations for them. Sample comments are as follows: “It’s like White teachers seem like they don’t expect much from me and other Black students.” “My White math teacher always listens to other students’ questions, and when I ask a question, she acts like she can’t hear me.” “Dr. Mack, at this school, it seems like some White teachers don’t really want to see African American students to walk across the stage or walk anywhere with their classes.” “Sometimes, I get the feeling that A lot of White teachers (another student injects “a few Hispanic teachers, too) think that it is rare for us (African American students) to do good in school but normal for White students to be smart in school.” Some of the most telling examples of expectations based teacher-student racism were created through written responses to prompts. For example, an African American female student wrote, “I feel like when Black students ask for directions to be explained, these teachers dumb down to us and try to act like we’re mentally slow. Like they expect us to be stupid or something. Like we don’t understand English.” A high achieving African American female student described her perceptions of how a teacher’s expectations of her changed when she was in a classroom with mostly

The Skin They’re In Caucasian American students. This student wrote, “When I was in a class with mainly Black kids, this White teacher acted towards me like I was and didn’t understand. She acted like nothing I did was ever positive. Like she expected me to fail her class. But

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when the next semester came around and I was put in a class where I was the only Black student, her whole body language and the way she talked to me change. She actually expected more from me, she treated me normal and like I was White.” Elsewhere, some African American students’ perceptions of teacher-induced racism focused on teacher generalizations of negative school behaviors to them because of their skin color. These students believed that when one African American student makes a mistake, many teachers assume that this behavior is a reflection and indicative of all African American students. Listed below are written examples of this theme. Getting a Chance The reason I think that Black students should get a chance to express themselves is because that if you are Black, then teachers and students will think that we are trouble makers. When I say trouble makers, I mean like if you are in class one day and you’ve been to the office multiple times and someone in your class has had a fight or something, the teacher will automatically think that you did because you’re always in trouble or because they know you have a bad mouth on you and you’re Black. Stepped Over I feel that Black people don’t get treated as fair as others-Which means (Whites) (Mexicans) etc..because when one Black person mess up or do anything bad, they (teachers) think all do that. That’s not right. I think before you judge anybody, you should talk to them and get to know them first. People these days just think since Blacks use to get beaten on and slaves and KKK! They think they can bring it back. Blacks are just like everyone else, and I am tired of Mexicans, Whites, and anybody else treating us like dirt. It’s not cool! I want to fix this situation!

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What to Expect When people look at me, they automatically expect me to be a bully and talk “ghetto”, because I’m black. Other races at this school expect me to be dumb and come from the “hood” or something because I’m Black. When students at this school find out that I’m in all honors and GT classes, they’re shocked and mark me as a “nerd”! People at this school are very stereotypical and believe anything they see or hear about Black people on TV or magazines. I’m definitely NOT what people expect me to be. *The student in this sample is equating people to teachers and students. Why Use It? The teachers don’t treat me right. They treat the other students better than the Blacks. They just doubt us anyway because of our race. I don’t use my knowledge because why would I waste my time being respectful and good for nothing while the teacher keeps nagging at me and getting onto me but not getting onto the Whites and some of the Hispanic kids. The findings from the teacher-to-student perceptions of racism suggested that many of the African American students perceived that they mostly experienced racism when interacting with some Caucasian American teachers. As a result, I decided to pose additional questions to further investigate this issue. Specifically, I wanted to see if the students a) believed that most of their Caucasian American teachers showed racism towards them; or b) perceived that some of the accusations of racism were based mostly on the students. To facilitate this investigation, I asked the students if they could describe a situation in which a Caucasian American teacher was rightly or wrongly accused of being a racist. Mixed results emerged from most of the campuses and student groups. Some students perceived that many of their African American students’ rightly accused Caucasian American teachers of showing racism towards them. For example, on one of the campuses, An African American girl stated, “Of course, I can give you an example of

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a White teacher being racist towards African American students.” She continued, “A lot of times, White teachers will let White students and some Mexicans do something, but when we (African American students) ask to do the same thing, they say no.” I then asked the student to give me examples of the privileges that are denied to African American students. The student replied, “You know, like going to the restroom, going to the office for things, and getting up to sharpen pencils or talk to another student. The minute we asked to do those things, it’s like ‘no, just sit down!’” As another example, two African American males discussed their perceptions of experiencing racism with their Caucasian American teachers. One of the African American males started the discussion with the following statement: “Real talk (To be honest with you), a lot White teachers don’t really care for African American students.” In response, I asked, “Why would you say this about your Caucasian American teachers?” The African American male then replied, “You can just tell!” He continued, “It’s like one time I needed help with my work and I asked the teacher to come and help me. The teacher then go blast me out (embarrass me) by saying, ‘Didn’t I just teach you this?’ But as soon as a little White girl raises her hand, she tells the girl to come up to her desk. Now what’s that about?” The other African American male then added, “Word (That’s the truth)! Black students don’t get the same treatment as White students, especially from White teachers. A lot of the White teachers are just not fair to their Black students.” Some students, however, believed that many African American students wrongfully accused Caucasian American teachers of being racist towards African

The Skin They’re In American students. In effect, these students use race to deter Caucasian American teachers from addressing their inappropriate behavior. For instance, during a focused group discussion, an African American female student said, “On this campus, there are some times when White teachers do show favoritism to White students.” She further stated, “But most of the times, my White

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teachers aren’t being racist at all. I think that many of the African American students who get in trouble are belligerent to begin with and are just saying ‘you’re being racist’ because the teacher didn’t do what they wanted.” An African American male from this group then stated, “Yeah-I am not going to say that all of the White teachers are racist. But yall got to admit that a lot of them do treat students differently because of race.” An African American female then replied, “Yeah, and a lot of time it's us that get treated wrong. Like just today, my teacher got mad at this Black boy out of the whole group, and the whole group was talking. And the group also had Mexicans and Whites in it, too.” An African American female retorted, “Yeah, but we got to admit that some of us don’t come at them right. Like when they ask some of us to sit down or follow simple directions, we do use race to make a big deal out of what they’re asking us to do. And I think that a lot of times, White teachers do get scared, so they just drop it instead of actually addressing the issue with these students.” I then said, “So do you think that this makes the Caucasian American teacher actually seem like a racist?” All the students emphatically and simultaneously replied, “Yeah!”

The Skin They’re In During my interaction of with students from other campuses, I found that their responses to Caucasian American teacher racism were defined through the themes “It’s

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really like that” and “It’s not really like that”. The first theme denoted African American students’ reflections on how they Caucasian American teachers were racist towards them. The second theme described African American students’ perceptions of their African American peers’ incorrect assumptions of experiencing racism with teachers, especially Caucasian American teachers. Listed below are the written responses regarding this theme. “It’s really like that” “Teachers will let certain people do things and not the others. But they will talk, look, and treat you (African American students) differently.” African American Male “Like a teacher telling a Black student to sit when a White student is allowed to stay standing or do other things to.” African American Female “When they let a White kid do something, they don’t do nothing. But when a Black kid do it, they gone make them go to the office.” African American Female “It’s not really like that” “If a student is doing something wrong like yelling or playing around the teacher yells at them. And they get mad like you racist, when it wasn’t really like that.” African American Female “When a teacher yells at you and she had a reason to that’s not being racist.” African American Male

“When a teacher may discipline a student and maybe deal with another student a different way. The other student may say she is being racist. Because he is a different race.” African American Male.

“A lot times they (African American Students) feel as though the teachers allow White kids to do certain things, but when they turn around to do the exact same thing they get in trouble. Or maybe they feel as though the teacher is constantly picking on them or only does mean things to them.” African American Male

“Like if you call out racism to a teacher telling you to sit when everybody else is sitting to.” African American Female

II. The Skin They’re In

The Skin They’re In Disciplined and Undisciplined African American Students The findings from the previous section showed that many African American

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students expressed similar views about their schooling experiences in Irving Independent School District. However, I did find that some differences did exist between the students in accordance to behavioral issues. I measured behavioral issues in accordance to discipline referral forms. Students were classified as having behavioral issues if they had numerous discipline referrals. Students who did not have any discipline referral forms were not classified as having behavioral issues. The findings from my analysis showed that there were differences between African American students with behavioral issues and African American students who did not have behavioral issues in schools. To that end, the purpose of this section is to describe the academic, behavioral, and racial differences between these groups of students. Academics I used grades to gain insight into the academic differences between African American students with and without behavioral issues. Specifically, I investigated possible numerical grade differences between the groups’ performance in mathematics, science, English, and social studies. The findings from this investigation showed statistically significant differences existed between the two groups’ performances in these subjects. The statistical significance denotes that the differences were indicative of the students instead of by chance. In other words, a similar group of students with similar school experiences would earn the same averages in these core subjects. The table below depicts these differences.

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Academic Performance Differences in Mathematics, Science, English, Social Studies Grades Subject Student Group Behavioral Problems Mathematics No Behavioral Problems Behavioral Problems Science No Behavioral Problems Behavioral Problems English No Behavioral Problems Behavioral Problems Social Studies No Behavioral Problems 84.4 84 82.1 83.5 Cycle 4 67.5 Cycle 5 69 Cycle 6 63.7 End of Semester 66.6

68.5

74

75.7

71.9

90.1

89.8

90.1

89.9

79.4

75.5

68.9

74.5

83.7

85.9

87.7

85.6

78.3

79.4

76.1

77.9

93

91.5

91

91.5

Behavioral

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I started every group session by administering a questionnaire to the students. The questionnaire consisted of six vignettes related to discipline issues between a student and teacher. The vignettes focused on teacher tone and teacher directives. The tone vignettes measured students’ responses to teachers who displayed a forceful or negative tone towards a student. The teacher directive vignettes focused on students’ approaches to responding to the specific directives to teachers. The choices for each vignette ranged from 1-Least desirable response from a student to 5-Most desirable response from a student. I instructed the students to read and choose a response that would best reflect their way of responding to the situation. The students were also directed to provide a brief written explanation of their chosen choices for each vignette. The chart below provides a description of the vignettes.

Behavioral Vignettes

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Vignette 1. A teacher asks a student to answer a math question. The student answers the teacher, but the teacher could barely hear the student. As a result, in an angry tone, the teacher says, “Speak up now or I’m moving on to someone else.” In this situation, what would you do? Situation 2 2. A student enters class a few minutes after the late bell. The teacher then asks the student for a late pass. The student informs the teacher that the hall monitor told him/her to go to class and that he/she would contact the teacher. The teacher then says, “That’s not good enough. I want a pass from you or you can’t come in here.” In this situation, what would you do? Choices 5 Speak up immediately or apologize and then speak up immediately. 1 Tell the teacher to move on to another student. 4 Speak up using the same angry tone of voice that was used by the teacher. 2 Speak up after telling the teacher that I did not appreciate the tone of voice that was used to talk to me. 3 Say nothing. 2 Sit down and/or retell my point of view to the teacher. 4 Go tell the hall monitor about the decision. 5 Leave the class and return once I had a pass from the hall monitor. 3 Tell the teacher to refrain from to talking to him/her in that way and then go to get a pass from the hall monitor. 1 Tell the teacher to not talk to me in that way.

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Category Tone

Directive

3. One of a teacher’s rules is that during group work, students must have the 5 “Yes mam/sir, I am sorry about this.” teacher’s permission to move away from 4 “I know the rule, I just forgot.” their desk or group. During a group project, 2 “I’m going, but you don’t need to yell at me.” a student leaves his/her desk to talk with 3 “True, but it’s just one reason that I need to the teacher at the teacher’s desk. As soon talk to you.” as the teacher notices the student, the 1 “Don’t yell at me!” teacher says (in a harsh tone), “You know my rules about leaving your seat. So get back to your desk right now.” In this situation, what would you do? 4. A teacher directs students to pay attention to a demonstration on how to dissect a frog. During the demonstration, the teacher notices that two students, who are seated beside each other, are using their tools to dissect the frog. The teacher then rushes to the students’ desks, takes the frogs and utensils, and throws the frogs into the trash can. The teacher then walks back to the front of the classroom to complete the demonstration. In this situation, what would you do? 5. As the teacher writes notes on the board, student turns around and asks if another student for a pencil. The teacher 5 Apologize for my behavior and then pay attention to me. 4 I would not apologize for my behavior. But I would pay attention to the teacher. 2 Suck my teeth or make some type of noise to express my feelings about the situation. 3 Ask the teacher if it was necessary to take the materials, as well as throw the frog into the trash can. 1 Tell the teacher that he/she didn’t need to take the items away from me and then throw the frog into the trash can. 1 Tell the teacher that he/she was wrong, because I was not talking. 5 Say nothing and drop the issue.

Tone

Tone

Directive

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then turns and tells the student who was not talking to stop talking. The student then informs the teacher that he/she was not talking. The teacher then says, “You were talking, because I heard you.” In this situation, what would you do? 6. A student walks into a classroom a few minutes after the tardy bell. The student then takes his/her seat. The teacher turns to the student and says, “Good morning, I want you to sit in this seat today.” The teacher then directs the student to the other seat. In this situation, what would you do? 4 Point out to the teacher that the student in front of me was talking. 2 Get upset for being accused of doing something that I did not do. 3 Say nothing but approach the teacher at the end of class to clear my name. 2 Ask the teacher why I should move and use the response to determine if I will move to the other seat. 5 Move 4 Get up and move while simultaneously asking the teacher why he/she wanted me to move to another seat. 3 Move to the other seat and at the end of class, approach the teacher to seek an explanation for why I had to move to the other seat. 1 Refuse to move.

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Directive

The findings from the questionnaire showed that differences existed between the responses between students with behavioral issues and students without behavioral issues. Statistical significance appeared for the tone vignettes, which are vignettes 1, 3, and 4.

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These findings suggest that the differences in the two groups’ responses to these vignettes were not resultant of chance. Rather, these findings suggest that African American students with similar characteristics and schooling experiences would provide similar responses to these behavioral situations. In addition, the responses to the directive vignettes are more than likely indicative of chance instead of specific behavioral patterns among these students. Overall, the students with no behavioral issues indicated that they would provide a more desirable response to the situations than students with behavioral issues (See Table Below).

Student Group Behavioral Problems

Behavioral Mean Score Differences in Vignette Responses *Vignette 1 Vignette 2 *Vignette 3 *Vignette 4 Tone Directive Tone Tone *3.23 3.90 *2.55 *3.21

Vignette 5 Directive 2.71

Vignette 6 Directive 3.63

No Behavioral *3.69 4.09 Problems *Statistical Significance Between Differences

*3.62

*3.69

3.09

3.84

I used the written descriptions to further analyze the differences in responses between students without behavioral issues and students with behavioral issues. In conducting this analysis,

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I found that the major difference was in how the two groups of students viewed teacher authority. These differences were more evident in the vignettes regarding the teacher’s tone. The vignettes regarding teacher tone revealed that most students with behavioral issues seemed focus on the need, when applicable, to challenge the teacher’s authority. Evidence of this belief could be seen in how these students believed that their response to a teacher should be indicative of how the teacher approached them. Most of the students with no behavioral issues seemed to respond to the teacher tone vignettes with the need for complying with authority. Although these students believe that the teacher’s tone was an inappropriate gesture, they seemed more likely to respond to the teacher in accordance to authority. The responses to teacher directive did not show distinct patterns between the responses for the two groups of students. Instead, both students with behavioral issues and students without behavioral issues seemed to give a similar number of least desirable and most desirable responses to the teacher directive vignettes. The table below presents sample comments regarding the vignettes from each student group.

Behavioral Differences in Vignette Responses
Vignette Student Group Categories Students with Behavioral Issues Students with no Behavioral Issues

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Sample Comments “I would yell back because she yelled at me.” “Because since she was disrespectful, I’m a be disrespectful back.” *One Tone “Because if she treats me that way then I am too.” “A teacher shouldn’t talk to a student like that.” “Because I treat people the way that they treat me.” Sample Comments “Teachers shouldn’t talk in that tone of voice to a student when doing nothing wrong.” “Because I need a pass.” Two Directive “I would be mad because the teacher would think that I am lying. Because it would be a better way the teacher could believe me.” Sample Comments “I chose 3 because if I needed to talk to talk to a teacher, I would get up instead of having an unanswered question.” *Three Tone “Even though I broke the rule the teacher still could have said go back to your seat in a nice way.” “I picked number 2 because I would tell the teacher about his her self and then go back to my seat.” Sample Comments Sample Comments

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“I don’t feel the need to argue with the teacher, and I want an “A” in conduct.” “I’d speak up quickly so the teacher would know that I know the question.” “I feel that there is no need to have an angry tone or get upset.” “I don’t like confrontation and yelling back would make the situation worse.” Sample Comments “Because a pass would be physical evidence that I’m telling the truth.” “If I came in on time, I wouldn’t have that problem.” “Because I wasn’t going to get in trouble if I have a pass.”

“Because if a student needs to talk to you then they need to talk to you, because it may be important.” “I forgot the rule and can return to my seat and raise my hand.” “I chose to apologize because it is a rule that has been set for me and I did not follow it.”

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Sample Comments “Because he/she could have just took it away, but they didn’t have to throw it away. They could have gave me a warning.” *Four Tone “I would ask if it was necessary because she know she didn’t have to do that.” “She didn’t need to be taking things from me like that.” Sample Comments

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“Because, I wasn’t paying attention, and it was only fair that I apologize.” “I wouldn’t apologize or anything, but perhaps paying attention would earn back my privileges.” “There would be no reason to apologize, but I would definitely pay attention to not miss anything.”

Sample Comments “I picked this because I’m not going to sit back and not tell the teacher what really happened. Also, because if I wasn’t talking, then I’m just going to point that out right then and there.” “Yes. Because I wasn’t talking, I don’t care if her yelling was an accident or not.”

Sample Comments “I would tell her choice 1 because I knew that I wasn’t talking.” “I wasn’t talking, so why should I take all of the blame.” “Because if you stay after class, and tell her, then she wouldn’t be more upset with you.”

Five Directive

Sample Comments “I didn’t do anything, so why should I have to move.” “Because I would need to know why I have to move to another seat.”

Sample Comments “I would need a reason.” “I would want to know why she would want to move me.”

Six Directive

*Statistical Significance with Distinct Response Patterns for Student Groups

The Skin They’re In Race

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One of the most significance differences between African American students with and without behavioral issues was race. These differences can be defined through two terms: Black Racialization and Black Racistization. I define Black racialization as having a race-conscious view of race. That is, African American people with race-conscious views of race understand how race and racism have impacted the lives of African American people. However, they do not relate every hardship or misfortune to their race or racism. In most cases, when these individuals do experience race-related obstacles and racism-induced barriers, they transform these setbacks into opportunities to still pursue and achieve their goals and dreams. Black racistization is the tendency to have a race-centric view of race. Like African American people with race-conscious views, African American people with racecentric views understand that race and racism have had long-term effects on the lives of African American people. Unlike their counterparts, these individuals are more likely to relate most of their issues in life to race and racism. In addition, when these individuals do encounter race-related obstacles and barriers, they are more likely to use these issues as reasons for not continuing their quest to become successful individuals. Based on my discussions with African American students, I found that most of the students without behavioral issues viewed their lives and schooling experiences from a Black Racialization perspective. The students with behavioral issues seemed to define their lives and schooling experiences from a Black Racistization view. The chart below provides further analysis of the differences between the racial foundation of these groups of students.

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Differences Students With No Behavior Problems Black Racialization Black Racistization More likely to define racism as the mistreatment of Black people because of their skin color. In many instances, their definition of racism directly implicated White people as being the perpetrators of racial mistreatment. Are not as committed to using inequities and experiences with racism and discrimination as motivation to be successful in society.

More likely to define racism as the mistreatment of people because of their skin color.

Are committed to using inequities and experiences with racism and discrimination as motivation to succeed in society.

These students perceived that many White teachers and a few Hispanic American teachers treated African American students different from White students, as well as Hispanic American students. At the same time, they also concluded that many teachers’ interactions with African American students were an outgrowth of African American students’ behavior instead of the color of their skin. Notwithstanding, these students remained motivated to succeed in school. Believed that in spite of observations of racism on their campus, they could still receive fair treatment from White teachers, as well as Hispanic teachers. For these students, appropriate behavior can influence teachers to treat them in accordance to their performance instead of just race.

Perceptions of racism and discrimination in school seemed to demotivate students. These students seem to use racism to define any negative interaction between themselves and White teachers, as well as Hispanic teachers.

Perceive that because of racism, they will receive neither fair treatment nor equal access to success from White teachers, as well as Hispanic American teachers.

III. The Skin They’re In

The Skin They’re In Teacher Findings The purpose of this section is provide the outcomes of 33 focused group

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discussions with 198 teachers from 4 high schools and 7 middle schools. In the first part of this section, I discuss my findings for the quantitative aspects of my work the teachers. The second part of this sections describes my findings from the qualitative aspects of my work with the teachers. Quantitative Portion Prior to starting the discussions with the teachers, I administered a survey to them. I used the survey to gather background information about the teachers. The survey also gathered information about the teachers’ views of themselves and African American students. The survey results showed that this group of consisted of 145 (73%) Caucasian American teachers, 34 (17%) African American teachers, and 19 (10%) Hispanic American teachers. The gender makeup for this group of teachers was 59 (30%) males and 139 (70%) females. This group’s range for years of Irving teaching experience and overall teaching experience was from 1 year to 37 years. While these teachers had an overall average of 9.4 years of teaching experience, they showed an average of 6.6 years of teaching experience in Irving Independent School District. The teacher view aspects of the survey asked teachers to rate the factors that contributed the most to their identities as individuals and teachers. The factors were age, social class (SES), occupation, education level, gender, race/ethnicity, marital status, and parenthood. The overall rankings showed that occupation and education were the strongest influences on the teachers’ identities as people. Social class and race held the

The Skin They’re In least influence on the teachers’ identities as people. The table below provides a full description of these findings. Ranked Scores for Factor Influences on Teachers’ Identity as A Person Factor Score (Mean Score) Occupation 4.04 Education 3.93 Gender 3.63 Age 3.36 Parenthood 3.19 Marital Status 3.18 Social Class (SES) Race/Ethnicity 3.08 2.97

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The overall rankings for teacher identity development showed that occupation and education held the strongest influences on the teachers’ identities as teachers. Social class and marital status held the least influence on the teachers’ identities as teachers. The table below provides a full description of these findings. Ranked Scores for Factor Influences on Teachers’ Identity as a Teacher Factor Score (Mean Score) Occupation 4.39 Education 4.34 Age 3.38 Gender 3.26 Parenthood 3.00 Race/ethnicity 2.81 Social Class (SES) Marital Status 2.76 2.20

In addition to overall rankings, I also conducted a racial analysis of the rankings. That is, I investigated the extent to which these factors contributed to the development of Caucasian American teachers, African American teachers, and Hispanic American

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teachers. For Caucasian American teachers, Occupation and education was the strongest influences on their identities as people. Race was the least significant influence on their identities as people. For African American teachers, education and race were the strongest influences on their identities as people. Parenthood was the least significant influence on their identities as people. As people, Hispanic American teachers appeared to be mostly influenced by education and occupation. The least significant influence for these teachers was gender. Occupation and education appeared to be the strongest influences on how all of the teachers viewed their identities as teachers. Whereas parenthood was the least significant influence on Hispanic American teachers’ teacher identities, marital status appeared to bear little to no importance on the teacher identities of Caucasian American teachers and African American teachers. The table below provides a full description of these findings. Racial Analysis of Factor Influences on Teachers’ Identities as People and Teachers As a Person As a Teacher CA AA HA CA AA HA Occupation Education Education Occupation Education Occupation Education Gender Parenthood Age Marital Status Socioeconomic Status Race Race Occupation Gender Age Socioeconomic Status Marital Status Parenthood Occupation Age Socioeconomic Status Race Gender Marital Status Parenthood Education Age Gender Parenthood Occupation Race Gender Education Race Age Gender Socioeconomic Status Marital Status Parenthood

Rank *1 *2 3 4 5 6 7 *8

Socioeconomic Status Socioeconomic Age Status Race Marital Status Parenthood Marital Status

The Skin They’re In I conducted a comparative analysis of the teachers’ perceptions of the extent to which age, social class (SES), occupation, education, gender, race, marital status, and parenthood influenced the teachers’ development as individuals and teachers. With the exception of occupation and parenthood, African American teachers’ development as

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individuals seemed to be more influenced by the factors than the individual development of Caucasian American teachers and Hispanic teachers. The widest margin of difference appeared for race. That is, race had a more significant influence on the identity development of African American teachers and Hispanic teachers than Caucasian American teachers. Overall, statistical significance was found for the differences in rating scores for age, social class, race/ethnicity, and parenthood. The teacher identity development analysis revealed similar findings. With the exception of age and occupation, the factors have a more significant influence on the teacher identity development of African American teachers than Caucasian American teachers and Hispanic American teachers. The widest margin of difference appeared for race. That is, race had a more significant influence on the identity development of African American teachers and Hispanic teachers than Caucasian American teachers. Overall, statistical significance was found for the differences in rating scores for social class, gender, race/ethnicity, and parenthood. The table below provides a full description of these findings.

Rank

As a Person

As a Teacher

The Skin They’re In CA +*Age **Social Class (SES) Occupation 3.26 2.88 AA 3.76 3.67 HA 3.36 3.47 CA 3.37 2.58 AA 3.47 3.44

68 HA 3.63 2.89

4.03

4.05

4.05

4.38

4.26

4.73

Education

3.88

4.11

4.05

4.31

4.44

4.42

-*Gender

3.62

3.76

3.47

3.15

3.70

3.26

**Race

2.62

3.97

3.47

2.46

3.82

3.62

Marital Status **Parenthood

3.20

3.29

2.84

2.20

2.23

2.15

3.33

3.20

2.10

3.07

3.20

2.05

+*-Statistically significant differences for identity development as person. -*- Statistically significant differences for identity development as teacher. **- Statistically significant differences for identity development as person and teacher.

The Skin They’re In The African American student portion of the survey measured teachers’ perceptions of if the teachers on their campuses have high expectations for African

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American students. The ratings scale ranged from 1-Not True to 5-Absolutely True. The quantitative findings showed that most of the teachers believed that it was either somewhat true, or true or absolutely true in that teachers on that campuses held high expectations for African American students. Overall, 68 teachers (34%) 56 Caucasian American, 3 African American, 9 Hispanic American) absolutely believed that teachers other teachers held high expectations for African American students. 63 teachers (31%) 50 Caucasian American, 7 African American, 6 Hispanic American) believed that other teachers held high expectations for African American students. 47 teachers (24%) 32 Caucasian American, 14 African American, 1 Hispanic) somewhat believed that teachers other teachers held high expectations for African American students. 15 teachers (8%) 6 Caucasian American, 7 African American, 2 Hispanic American) did not really believe that other teachers held high expectations for African American students. Finally, only 5 teachers (3%) 1 Caucasian American, 3 African American, 1 Hispanic American) did not believe that other teachers held high expectations for African American students. The table below provides a complete description of these findings.

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Racial Analysis of Teacher Beliefs Regarding Other Teachers’ High Expectations for African American Students Rating Caucasian American 1 6 32 50 56 145 Race African American 3 7 14 7 3 34 Hispanic American 1 2 1 6 9 19 Total 5 15 47 63 68 198

Not True Not Really True Somewhat True True Absolutely True

The comparative findings showed that a statistically significant difference existed between the teachers’ beliefs regarding other teachers’ high expectations for African American students. Caucasian American teachers and Hispanic American teachers believed that other teachers held high expectations for African American students. African American teachers, however, only somewhat believed that other teachers held high expectations for African American students. Racial Comparison of Teacher Beliefs Regarding Other Teachers’ High Expectations for African American Students Race
Caucasian American African American Hispanic American

Mean Score
4.06 3.00 4.30

The Skin They’re In Another significant aspect of the survey focused on the extent to which the

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teachers recognized the racial differences between students. In completing this portion of the survey, teachers responded to one of the following choices: 1-I don’t see color, I just see kids. 2-I somewhat see color, but not as much as I see kids. 3-I see color, and I see kids. Teacher responses also included the provision of a written explanation of their chose choice. The findings showed that 41 teachers (21%) saw color and students. The remaining teachers either somewhat saw color (82 teachers [41%]) or did not consider color (75 teachers [38%]) when working with students. The table below provides a full description of this analysis, including the racial makeup for each of the three groups of teachers. Teacher Recognition of Racial Differences Among Students Rating Caucasian American I Don’t See Color, I Just See Kids I Somewhat See Color, But Not as Much as I see Kids I see color and I see kids Total
59 59 27 145

Race African American
8 14 12 34

Hispanic American
8 9 2 19

Total
75 82 41 198

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The comparative findings showed that a statistically significant difference existed between the teachers’ recognition of the racial differences among students. African American teachers were slightly more likely than Caucasian American teachers and Hispanic American teachers to see the racial differences among students. See the table below. Racial Analysis of Teacher Recognition of Racial Differences Among Students Race Caucasian American African American Hispanic American Mean Score 1.77 2.11 1.68

Qualitative Portion To further understand teachers’ recognition of racial differences among students, I conducted a racial analysis of teachers’ descriptions of their chosen choices. I conducted this analysis to determine why teachers chose their choices. My findings showed that teachers who chose “I Don’t See Color, I Just See Kids” truly believed that the student’s race should and does not have any impact on how they perceive students. These teachers also believed that race does not differentiate the cultural and behavioral characteristics of African American students, Caucasian American students, and Hispanic American students. The teachers who chose “I Somewhat See Color, But Not as Much as I see Kids” believed that race does have some impact on differences between African American students, Hispanic American students, and Caucasian American students. In spite of these differences, these teachers were still strongly committed to minimizing how the differences impacted their perceptions and understanding of these students.

The Skin They’re In Teachers who chose “I See Color, and I See Kids” expressed the belief in that although students have similar characteristics, they can and are somewhat different in accordance to race. These teachers seemed to also perceive that race does impact the

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characteristics of African American students, Hispanic American students, and Caucasian American students. As such, the teachers believed that to intentionally overlook the racial makeup of students is to ignore a central aspect of their identity. Listed below are samples of written descriptions from teachers of these three groups.

The Skin They’re In
Teacher Race Caucasian American I don’t see color, I just seek kids “I’m not a racist. I don’t think that race has anything to do with what students are capable of doing.” “It doesn’t matter what color they are-I just see them a child.” African American “I just see kids. Color make no difference to me. None at all.” “When I look at a student, I only see a future leader with unlimited potential.”

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Hispanic American I know that no matter the race of the child, all children have good behaviors and bad behaviors. Their race should not be looked upon to characterize them in a group. I see very child as a child not a certain color, race, or nationality. There is no favoritism or bad treatment to a child because they are of a certain race or nationality. Basically, they are all equal in my eyes. “I mostly see people because everyone has common experiences and psychological/physiological characteristics. But also consider race, and socioeconomic status even more so, because that provides background for the kids.” “I’m Hispanic, the majority of these students are Hispanic. That is something I notice, but I grew up with that being the case. So I don’t notice it a whole lot. I really see kids that need a lot of help and that I can relate to and talk to.” “Unique. Each student is enriched by their color and culture. Each student is a unique individual and getting to know these qualities produces great learners and teachers.” “I think that color is a part of one’s identity so ignoring color is overlooking an important part of a person.”

I see color, but not as much as I see kids

“In an ideal setting, #1 would apply. However, to say that color in some instances isn’t noticed would be a lie and an injustice to students.” “I think people who say they don’t see color are lying. That’s like saying you don’t notice a person’s height. There is a difference between seeing color as a person’s characteristics and using a person’s color to make judgments about them without substantiation.”

“I somewhat see color because I want to be aware of the attitudes and behaviors that are associated with race and culture. I try to view everyone as a person-part of the human race-before I look at ethnicity.” “In some instances, I try to understand where the student is coming from and often race plays a part in that.” “It is impossible for me to negate ethnic influences of the individual without consciously trying.” “I think because we all have such rich cultural backgrounds, it is important to recognize the differences We must acknowledge what is different about all of us and cater how we teach to reach all of these points.”

I see color and I see kids

“Like it or not, color is an important part of kids’ identity. Understanding that allow me to understand the kids a whole lot better.” “I first treat all students equal, but growing up where I did, I also know as a teacher that their personalities, beliefs, behaviors are also defined by their race.”

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In addition to surveying teachers, I also engaged them in focus group discussions about African American students. Ms. Dianna Hopper would facilitate the discussions by informing teachers of my purpose for working with Irving Independent School District. I would then ask teachers to identity any specific academic characteristics and behavioral characteristics about their African American student population. On many campuses, some of teacher responses could be characterized as: 1. Beliefs in that African American students were bright individuals with the potential to become successful individuals. 2. Concerns about African American students’ lack of commitment or focus on academics. According to the teachers, some African American students either failed or refused to apply themselves in the classroom. 3. Anxiety regarding African American students’ tendency to show defiant and disrespectful behavior towards the authority of adults, particularly Caucasian American teachers. Yet many of the responses to my in inquiry varied by campus, group dynamics and race. On some campuses, either all or majority of the teachers gave open and honest accounts of their perceptions about African American students. On other campuses, either all or majority of the teachers defined African American students as the same as other students. In most instances, race influenced the responses from focused group participants’ perceptions of African American students. Specifically, with the exception of one African American teacher, the African American teachers were able to discuss specific academic characteristics and behavioral characteristics of African American students. Along those same lines, Hispanic teachers, for the most part, could describe their perceptions of the unique academic and behavioral characteristics of African American students.

The Skin They’re In Considerable variation existed within Caucasian American teachers. On most campuses, some Caucasian American teachers gave open and honest accounts of their

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feelings about the academic and behavioral characteristics of African American students. These teachers also appeared to want to learn more about how to understand the racial and cultural implications of teaching African American students. Some Caucasian American teachers, however, were resistant to discuss African American students as a single entity. This group of Caucasian American teachers seemed more comfortable with defining African American students within the context of all students. They seemed to focus more on eliminating than recognizing the unique characteristics of their African American students. Sample comments regarding their feelings are as follows: “Race? For me there is no race, but human. I am fair but loving to all students.” “There are no characteristics with just African American students. These students are just like every other student.” “African American students are just like every other student. I they should not be treated any differently than other students.” “African American students are just students-they get into trouble just like any other student.” I would often respond to these comments by explaining that I am not asking them if they treat African American students better than students from other ethnic groups. Instead, I was simply asking if they noticed any unique characteristics among their African American students. Whereas some of the Caucasian American teachers from this group dynamic tried to provide a few examples, most of the teachers remained adamant

The Skin They’re In that no unique characteristics existed for African American students. These teachers continued to advocate that because “All Children are the Same,” African American students would not be looked at or treated in any way that was different from their perceptions of other students. However, during some parts of the focused group discussions, I did talk with these and the other teachers about accusations of racism. Many of the Caucasian

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American teachers wanted to know why African American students often accused them of being racist towards African American students. They also asked me to provide them with strategies for responding to African American students’ accusation of racism. My initial response was to ask the teachers to explain how they responded to the students in these situations. The teachers indicated that in most instances, they refuted the claims of racism. They also expressed anger and frustration with being accused of being racist towards African American students. My response to this situation was to explain that many of the African American students define their interactions with Caucasian American teachers in accordance to racism. I would also encourage these teachers to use a three-prong approach to address accusations of racism. First, the teachers should ask the students to define racism. The teachers should then provide the students with their definition of racism. The teachers should then engage the students in discussing the extent to which their actions were indicative of racism. That is, were the teacher’s actions based on racism or a response to the African American student’s behavior? As mentioned, the Caucasian American teachers indicated that their responses were based on the actions of the students. As such,

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I informed these teachers to convey this point to African American students. They should then insist that these students refrain from accusing them of being racist. The Caucasian American teachers, as well as other teachers from the focused group, were very responsive to my suggestions for addressing racism. However, I am not sure if these teachers believed that these strategies would work with African American students. As a result, I am unsure of the extent to which the teachers implemented these strategies into their classrooms.

IV. Implications The purpose of this investigation was to explore African American students’ perceptions of their schooling experiences in Irving Independent School District. This

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investigation produced two significant results. First, race does impact African American students’ perceptions of themselves and their culture. Second, race does impact African American students’ perceptions of their schooling experiences in Irving Independent School District. Regardless of behavioral status, African American students have pride in being apart of the African American race. However, their racialization has caused them to perceive racial inequities in their schools. These findings create several important implications. One of the most important implications is commitment to using a racially relevant approach to addressing the needs of African American students in Irving Independent School District. The most important stakeholders in this process are parents, teachers, and principals. As such, I will provide needs-specific implications these stakeholders of African American students in Irving Independent School District. Parents Based on the findings from my investigation, I believe that African American parents must continue to apply a race-conscious approach towards raising African American children. I would also like to encourage and challenge African American parents to broaden their approach to helping their children understand the full meaning of racism. African American parents must help their children to understand the positive and negative racial implications of being African American in society. They must provide them with strategies for using the positive implications to develop a strong academic identity. That is, they must talk to their children about the importance of getting and education. These discussions must include but not be limited to:

The Skin They’re In • Talking with African American children about the African legacy of using education to become learned individuals and well developed people. •

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Reminding African American children of their duty and obligation to uphold the African American race by becoming educated individuals.

Training African American children to understand that getting an education is neither a “Black Thing” or “White Thing.” Rather, getting an education is the “Right Thing” needed to achieve their goals and dreams.

Helping African American children to understand that respecting teachers is a prerequisite to achieving an education. The reason is that the student’s job is to enter schools to acquire knowledge from their teachers. These ideas will empower African American students to develop the resilience

needed to become high achieving students. To minimize the negative implications, parents must be vigilant in providing their children with counter narratives about race and racism in America. The findings from my investigation clearly show that many African American parents have begun to engage their children in serious discussions about race and racism. In addition, most of these discussions appear to inform the children that because of their race, thy will experience some significant hardships in life. As such, I would like to strongly encourage African American parents to balance this perspective by informing their children to continually pursue excellence and achievement. In addition, African American parents must inform their children that although race and racism have been central to the Black experience, racism will not always be the defining factors of their life experiences.

The Skin They’re In Along those same lines, African American parents must help their children to

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develop a race-conscious view of race and racism. In my investigation, I found that many African American students defined racism as a Black-White issue. That is, racism was defined as Caucasian American people’s tendencies to mistreat African American people. Another perspective is that African American people were made to feel inferior to Caucasian American people. I believe that African American parents can broaden this thought process in two ways. First, they can teach their children that people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds can be perpetrators and victims of racism. Second, parents can help their children to understand that some Caucasian American people, as well as people from other ethnic groups, will not judge or address them in accordance to their race. Rather, these people will judge and address them in accordance to their character, conduct, and disposition. As such, parents must train their children on how to discern if Caucasian American people, as well as people from other ethnic groups, are approaching them along the lines of race or personal characteristics. After reviewing the African American students interpretations of their parents’ socialization regarding race, I propose that African American parents and children develop a set of criteria for determining how Caucasian American people, as well as people from other ethnic groups, treat them. Listed below is a sample criteria for helping African American students view people’s treatment of them. 1. What has the person said or done to me? 2. Were the actions based on my race or character, conduct, or disposition? 3. If race, how do I know my race was the defining factor?

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4. If character, conduct, or disposition, what must I do to elicit the desired treatment from the person? An African American parent-child criteria would benefit African American children twofold. First, African American children would have a set of ideas to interpret other people’s treatment and views of them. Second, African American children’s responses to other people in these situations would be based on adult guidance instead of only child like assumptions, survival tactics, and beliefs. Overall, these parental suggestions can build African American students capacity to operated outside of their racial worldview. That is, African American students will be more likely to understand when and how to trust and connect with Caucasian American people, as well as other people who have a non-African American pigmentation and worldview. In addition, these suggestions also enhance the possibility of African American students to feel that they can simultaneously maintain a strong grade point average and racial identity. Teachers Teachers must play a critical role in empowering their African American students to achieve and maintain a positive academic identity. First, Irving Independent School District teachers must conduct self assessments of their racial worldview. Specifically, they must examine how race has impacted their lives and views of people from other cultures and ethnicities. They must investigate how race influenced them during their formative years, preservice years, and inservice years. This step would benefit the overall teaching development of African American teachers, Hispanic American teachers, and Caucasian American teachers.

The Skin They’re In In my opinion, Caucasian American teachers would especially benefit from the

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racial self assessment. The reason is threefold. First, the findings from this investigation showed that most of the African American students perceived that race and racism were more of a defining factor in their interactions with Caucasian American teachers than teacher from the other ethnic groups. Second, quantitative results revealed that more Caucasian American teachers than African American teachers and Hispanic American teachers indicated that race bared no influence on their identities as individuals and teachers. Third, the outcomes of the focused group discussions continually showed that many Caucasian American teachers rarely thought about the extent to which or rationale for how and why race should influence human development and personal identity. Evidence to this effect could be seen in how many of these teachers avoided the opportunity to identify unique academic and behavioral characteristics of African American students. Because most of the African American teachers and Hispanic teachers had given some level of thought to race, they were more likely to understand the extent to which this construct impacts the racial worldview of African American students. For this reason, I previously suggested that they continue to conduct a racial self awareness of themselves. That way, they may then develop a better understanding of how race impacts African American students. In addition, they are more likely to be able to make a stronger connection with these students. Overall, Caucasian American teachers, African American teachers, and Hispanic American teachers must begin to discuss race among themselves. Specifically, they must share and question each other’s feelings about and experiences with race. They must then

The Skin They’re In translate these discussions into school wide understandings of how race impacts their

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views of students, especially African American students. I would strongly encourage the teachers to begin and continue these discussions throughout the school year. These discussions should be designed to show that: • • Race is a concept to be explored instead of an issue to be ignored by people. Race is a representation of authentically constructed ethnic experiences. As such, these experiences must be understood from a value-added perspective by people from different cultures and ethnicities. • Racial harmony can be achieved through realizing that understanding racial differences is a prerequisite to celebrating racial unity. Sample topics for discussion should be: • Who am I? Deconstructing Racial Stereotypes in Homes, Schools, and Communities • What can I? Reconstructing Racial Awareness for Valuing The Ethnic Value of All People. • Where Will I? Applying a Racially Conscious Approach to Meeting the Needs of Students Who Look Different Than Me Teachers should use these discussions to facilitate race-based discussions in their classrooms. The discussions should be designed to engage African American students, Hispanic American students, and Caucasian American students in the following discussions: 1. What is race? 2. What is racism?

The Skin They’re In 3. What is the difference between racial and racist? 4. How do you feel about your race? 5. How do you feel about other ethnic groups? 6. What do you want other ethnic groups to understand about your ethnic group? 7. How do you think that your school feels about people from you ethnic group? These discussions and reflections would enhance the social development of African American students, as well as Caucasian American students and Hispanic

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American students. Specifically, these discussions would help African American students to make a stronger connection with their teachers, particularly Caucasian American teachers. In effect, the recurring theme from my investigation is the African American student belief in Caucasian American induced racism in schools. However, I do not Caucasian American teachers are racist towards African American students. But I do believe that the differences between these teachers’ and students’ views about race do explain why African American students feel that many of their Caucasian American teachers are racist towards them. As one African American student stated, “Whites Run the Show.” In other words, this and other African American students equate “Whiteness” with the cultural symbols of power, privilege, advantage and dominance. Thus, when many African American students interact with Caucasian American teachers, they may initially feel that the power, privilege, prestige, and dominance associated with White skin color automatically places them in a position of being short changed by these teachers.

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By holding explicit race-based discussions, Caucasian American teachers may or may not be able to convince their African American students that “Whiteness” doesn’t necessarily represent power, privilege, prestige, and dominance in society. But these teachers can show their African American students how their “Whiteness” will be used to promote a selfless regard for all students. In other words, the power, privilege, prestige, and dominance associated with “Whiteness” will not and must not be used to define the actions of every Caucasian American teacher in Irving Independent School District. Principals Principals will play one of the biggest, if not the biggest, roles in helping African American students to arouse and sustain a strong academic identity in school. The reason is that principals set the tone and provide the leadership needed to facilitate change in schools. Thus, principals must take several steps to empower teachers to meet the needs of African American students. The first step is to discuss the report with teachers. These discussions should focus on how to create a school environment that is inclusive of and accommodating to African American students. In working with teachers, principals must also create ad hoc committees that work to improve African American students’ standings in school. These committees should create, expand, and revise academic and social practices that produce equitable learning experiences for African American students. From an academic perspective, principals and these committees must be fully committed to developing a climate of African American student inclusion into the academic community. For example, a committee could conduct investigations on why only a few African American students are enrolled in honors and gifted and talented

The Skin They’re In classes. They could use their findings to develop systemic ways of connecting African American students to these classes. Principals must also solicit parental support in strongly encouraging African

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American students to enroll in these classes. For instance, an Irving Independent School District secondary principal enrolled an African American athlete in the school’s Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) program. Upon receiving this news, the student’s parent met with the principal to discuss the enrollment. The parent indicated that the principal mistakenly enrolled her son in the AVID program. The principal then informed the parent that she intentionally placed the student in the AVID program. The main reason is that she believed that the student was able to meet program requirements for being a high achiever. These actions inform African American students and African American parents that the beauty of “Being Black” also includes the ability to demonstrate intellectual success in advanced classrooms. From a social perspective, principals must also work with guidance counselors to create structural opportunities for African American students to affirm their racial identity in school. Better stated, African American students need adult mentors and sponsors who can facilitate discussions regarding the racial aspects of their schooling experiences. These meetings and discussions should also provide opportunities for African American students to build strong African American identities. They must also be allowed to enact an African American identity that is appreciated, accepted, and approved of by teachers and principals. To sustain the effectiveness of these strategies, principals must facilitate racebased discussions among teachers. Principals must engage teachers in reflecting on how

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and why African American students are different from students from other ethnic groups. The discussions should also examine why many African American students perceive racial inequities in their schools. In addition, principals must challenge their teachers to examine if and how school practices may perpetuate racial inequities between African American students and students from other ethnic groups. Equally significant, principals must work closely with their school personnel to create and administer race equity surveys and questionnaires to students. These instruments should measure African American students’ perceptions of how they are treated by teachers, administrators, and other school personnel. The instruments must also be used to ensure that specific instructional and behavioral strategies are used to respond to the needs of African American students. Through appropriate and consistent application, these strategies will inform African American students that their race, heritage, and culture are an important part of their schools.

The Skin They’re In V. Summary/Conclusions The purpose of the investigation was to examine the schooling experiences of African American students in Irving Independent School District. Specifically, I

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investigated 143 African American secondary students’ perceptions of their experiences with being in grades 6-12 in Irving Independent School District middle schools and high schools. I facilitated investigation by engaging the students in discussions about themselves as individuals and students. I found that all of the students were very proud of their African American culture and heritage. For these students, being apart of the African American race was one of the most important aspects of their lives. However, many of these students did not perceive that their race and culture were fully included in their communities and schools. From a societal perspective, the students believed that numerous inequities existed between African American people and Caucasian American people. According to these students, the main reason is that these students believe that they are perceived as being inferior to Caucasian American people. Along those same lines, the African American students perceived racial inequities between how they and Caucasian American students and Hispanic American students are treated in schools. The students also perceived that because of their race, they received different and less supportive treatment from many teachers, particularly Caucasian American teachers. These perceptions seem to be observations for African American students without behavioral issues and obstacles for African American students with behavioral issues in their schools.

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In talking with their teachers, I found that some of the teachers were more aware of the racial aspects of their African American students than other teachers. Similarly, more African American teachers and Hispanic American teachers were cognizant of this development than Caucasian American teachers. In my opinion, one reason was that race was more influential in the identity development trajectory of Hispanic American teachers and African American teachers than Caucasian American teachers. In addition, more Caucasian American teachers than African American teachers and Hispanic American teachers were more resistant towards discussing the role of race in the development of and worldviews of students, particularly African American students. Overall, because of believing that all students are the same, most of these teachers could not understand the need for solely focusing on identifying academic and behavioral characteristics of African American students. Based on these findings, I implicated that parents, teachers, and principals must design specific strategies for enhancing the academic and racial identity of Irving Independent School District’s African American students. African American parents must continue to train their children on how to understand the role of race in their lives. All teachers must develop a race-based awareness of themselves and their African American students. Principals must facilitate this change by developing an agenda that focuses on the identity of African American students. Specifically, principals must empower teachers to take the necessary changes to accommodate the needs of African American students. Collectively, teaches, principals, and African American parents must consistently inform African American students that school is designed for them to become

The Skin They’re In intellectually superior students and human beings. These strategies will arouse and

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sustain strong relationships between African American homes and schools. The strategies would also create a home-to-school and school-to-home support system that acknowledges, embraces, and addresses the race, culture, and heritage of African American students in Irving Independent School District.

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