Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Research

First Advisor

Marcus Weaver-Hightower


In looking at the plight of young Black males who drop out of school or leave school without adequate skills to compete in the local and global labor markets, scholarship has overemphasized the likelihood of this population’s entrance into the juvenile justice system. Hence, many studies of these males have concentrated on their schooling experiences in the school-to-prison pipeline. While of crucial importance, prison is not the only danger for these young men. In time, some young Black males do end up in the juvenile justice system, but some remain stuck between school and employment. I term this “dual-detachment”—youth neither in school or employed. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate this underexplored phenomenon. Using Critical Race Theory and intersectionality frameworks, I explored the lived experiences of dually-detached Black males between the ages of 18 and 24, and the factors that lead Black males toward dual-detachment.

Data collection included in-depth interviews with six young Black males, three who dropped out of high school and three who graduated. An analysis of the data yielded five key themes. First, early in their schooling, the participants had positive attitudes toward education and career aspirations, but by the time they reached high school their career aspirations were derailed by lack of support from school personnel, yet they remain hopeful about the future. Second, suspensions, isolation in special classes, and tracking into alternative education led to broken relationships between these young men and school personnel, which led to decreased desire to be in school. Third, the participants’ negative school experiences constituted a barrier to academic engagement and school success, which led to some dropping out of school and others barely graduating. Fourth, upon finding themselves out-of-school and out-of-work, the young men experienced despair and discouragement, which led to their mistrust of the larger community. Fifth, the participants perceived that because of employers’ racial biases, they were denied employment even for low-skilled jobs, but remained resilient despite concerns about racism.