Black adolescents' experiences of race, rurality, and masculinities in school
While the educational experiences of African American males seem to be an extensively researched subject, especially as it relates to identity development, there remains a gap in the literature that explores the relationship between the intersection of racial-, masculine-, and rural identities and the educational experiences of rural, African American male students specifically. To fully understand the normative process of identity development for rural, African American boys and explore how it affects their unique educational experiences, an ecologically-sensitive exploration of their perspectives regarding their race, masculinity, and rurality is vital. The purpose of the current study is to explore how rural, African American males makes sense of their racial-, rural-, and masculine identities and how the intersection of these identities consequently are associated with their educational experiences (i.e., GPA and educational aspirations). Grounded in the phenomenological variant of ecological systems theory (PVEST) and guided by frameworks of intersectionality and Black masculinities, this study extends the existing literature by utilizing a mixed-methods sequential explanatory design to provide a unique view of this population’s experience with identity development and schooling. Correlation analyses revealed significant relations between study variables. In particular, a significantly positive correlation between Black males’ racial identity and GPAs was found, racial identity began to trend to significance in relation to their educational aspirations. Masculine identity was negatively associated with education aspirations of boys but not significantly related to their grades. Students’ rural identity was not statistically associated with educational aspirations or GPAs. Moreover, hierarchical cluster analysis revealed three distinct groups that emerged (Race Engaged, Interlocked Identity, and Gender Engaged). The characteristics of these clusters in relation to identity and achievement were supported by previous literature and further extended by qualitative analysis from this study. Qualitative data revealed that these students experienced a number of barriers that challenged them in their communities and schools, but they leveraged their identities and communities in the face of adversity to be educationally resilient.