Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Richard W. Malott

Second Advisor

Dr. Stephanie Peterson

Third Advisor

Dr. Ron Van Houten

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Steven Ragotzy


African American boys, black males, black boys, systemic racism, academic achievement, educating black boys


In the most recent decade, there has been a spiraling national trend of academic underachievement on the part of African American male adolescents. The empirical purpose of this study was to investigate what role, if any, systemic racism may be playing in the growing epidemic of academic underachievement in African American male adolescents. The results of the analyses utilized in this study found that there were significant correlations between perceptions of racism, coping behavior utilization, and psychological dysfunction. Specifically, canonical correlation analysis found that elevated levels of Cultural Mistrust, Cultural Race-Related Stress, and Individual Race-Related Stress leads to increased use of Emotion-Based Coping behaviors and decreased implementation of Avoidant-Focused and Task-Related Coping behaviors. Furthermore, canonical correlation analysis also found that Emotion-Based Coping and Cultural Mistrust were both associated with higher levels of Psychological Dysfunction (Anxiety and Depression). Finally, hierarchical regression analysis found that participant levels of Cultural Mistrust are related to Academic Achievement. In contrast, Psychological Dysfunction was not found to be significantly related to Academic Achievement. The findings of this research ultimately suggest that African American male perceptions of systemic racism indeed correlate with academic achievement. The results of this study provide empirical evidence which warrants an intentional effort on the part of educators, therapists, and social scientists to purposefully construct contextualized models and culturally appropriate strategies that will psychologically empower African American male adolescents and reverse this population’s trend of academic underachievement. Implications for educators, therapists, and social scientists are presented in this paper.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access