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Beyond Stigma and Stereotypes: An Ethnographic Study on the Effects of School-Imposed Labeling on Black Males in an Urban Charter School


This study explores the ways in which school-imposed labeling in a “no-excuses” charter school that was explicitly designed for the purpose of benefiting Black students, impacts teachers’ perceptions of Black male students who were labeled as being high risk or struggling academically, and how these students perceive their own schooling experiences. A conceptual framework with the history of how and why Black masculinity is constructed as deviant and different in the context of U.S. schools, as well as the impact of labeling on Black male students’ learning and self-esteem are detailed. While centering the labeled-students’ experiences, we examine the interactions between key stakeholders (i.e., labeled-students, teachers/administrators, and non-labeled students) at the charter school and overall the findings speak clearly to how language of deficit and pathology impacted Black male students’ schooling experiences as they negotiate racial stigma as racialized bodies at a “no-excuses” public charter school.

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  1. 1.

    Like the students, all names, dates, and titles in this paper are pseudonyms to protect the identity of the participants.

  2. 2.

    The Postsecondary Student Survey of Disability-related Stigma (PSSDS) is a Likert-type survey to measure self-reported degrees of stigmatization in college students with self-disclosed disabilities (Trammell 2009).

  3. 3.

    Though we both fit right into the school, the documented researcher stance is reflective of the first author.

  4. 4.

    After the research was collected, we were informed that pushups can be interpreted as a form of corporal punishment and is against the law in the state Leadership Academy is located.

  5. 5.

    Four debits in a day or week is an automatic in-school detention.


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Marsh, L.T.S., Noguera, P.A. Beyond Stigma and Stereotypes: An Ethnographic Study on the Effects of School-Imposed Labeling on Black Males in an Urban Charter School. Urban Rev 50, 447–477 (2018).

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  • Black males
  • Masculinity
  • No-excuses charter schools
  • Labeling
  • Urban education
  • Ethnography
  • Stigma