Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Judith McKay

Second Advisor

Neil H. Katz

Third Advisor

Michelle Cromwell


anti-blackness, Black males, critical race theory, protracted conflict, social identity, whiteness


"Strangers in the Classroom" is an instrumental case study research that examines the Black male student as a stranger in Title 1 middle school classroom due to the subtleties of cultural domination and racial bias in the English Language Arts curriculum. The structural, direct, and cultural violence experienced by Black people in America, ranging from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Willie Lynch, Jim Crow, and institutionalized racism, have resulted in a damaged identity and post-traumatic slavery syndrome of Black Americans. The same root of racism that founded the United States of America includes the formation of the K-12 and higher education systems. These systems of education have assisted in normalizing learners to patterns of anti-Blackness, whiteness, and structural violence that have historically failed Black indigenous people of color.

This study examines the identity and lived experiences of Black males in Title 1 middle schools as reflected through the English Language Arts curriculum and interrogates the cursory viewpoints of school teachers and administrators when it comes to the academic performance and identity development of Black males. The stranger theory by Georg Simmel, in addition to social identity theory and Critical Race Theory, are used to develop and analyze the conflict in this case study. The Protracted Identity Conflict Concept/Diagram was developed as a framework to describe and understand the phenomenon of the Black male experience in a racialized educational construct in Title 1 middle schools.