The secondary impact of mass media’s negative narrative of race-based injustice on high-ability suburban young Black males’ self-identity, academic self-identity, and academic success.


High-ability suburban young Black males (high school students, 3.0–3.6 GPA) experience secondary psycho-sociological trauma from the recent, prevalent shootings of young unarmed Black males by police (mass media secondary trauma). Their ability to succeed academically, in leadership, and in their community is subject to trauma from mass media’s negative portrayal of their innocently gunned down peers. Understanding their self-identity and academic self-identity through the lens of race-based injustice provides educators culturally relevant teaching assets to influence their social identity development specifically toward their academic success. This qualitative phenomenological bounded case study explores three non-Title I high-ability suburban young Black males’ voices on mass media’s secondary trauma’s impact on their self-identity, academic self-identity, and academic success. The research design used the Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 2002) framework to establish research and interview questions about the participants’ internal and external motivators, categorized by the framework’s key constructs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness for a well-rounded approach. To ensure triangulation and methodological congruency for rich and thick data, I used homogenous and purposeful sampling criteria, various data collection instruments, and pattern matching during the data collection phase. The data were analyzed using iterative analytical induction leading to emerging themes from the framework and thematic analysis, and literature review. The central themes of this study included: prevailing negative stereotypes lead to mass media secondary trauma (Happer & Philo, 2013; Parham-Payne, 2014), Black males distance themselves from their mass media secondary trauma to maintain their GPA (Bor et al., 2018, Lipscomb et al., 2019), and Black males marginalize the school environment’s ability to help with mass media’s secondary trauma (Gay, 2010, 2013; Ladson-Billings, 1995b). The implication of the key findings for this case study challenge educational institutions to first recognize mass media secondary trauma; second, implement media literacy critical analytical skills training; third, teachers and counselors should recognize secondary trauma as an issue on their students’ self-identity and social identity development and develop systemic touchpoints to their student population; and fourth, school environments must include law and criminal justice core curriculum courses to address current social and political consciousness toward educating the whole student.

Academic self-identity. Academic success. Culturally relevant pedagogy. High-ability. High-achiever. Hypervigilance. Mass media. Pygmalion effect. Self-actualization. Self-determination theory. Suburban Black male. Title I school.