Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global Inclusion and Social Development

First Advisor

Meghan Kallman

Second Advisor

Christopher Martell

Third Advisor

Jemadari Kamara


This study occurred during a period of increased social awareness of antiracism, yet in a time of intense educational controversy. As tension rises across the United States over teaching Black studies (African American studies) and banning books by Black authors, such as Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” and the classic “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by notable author, Maya Angelou, debates have sparked on whether learning the history of Black people in K-12 classrooms causes White students to feel guilty for America’s past atrocities against Black people. Therefore, by focusing on the impact of White high school students enrolled in Black studies courses in Massachusetts, this study examined how the teaching of Black studies in predominately White schools influenced White students.

As this study aimed to examine the impact of Black studies for White students in high school, the research centered Black studies and its value in education. It outlines the concepts of cultural pedagogy and the importance of schooling to draw attention to the need to dismantle the unidirectional European American curriculum in K12 classrooms. Using critical race theory and critical whiteness as theoretical frameworks, this research serves as a qualifier to assess whether when White students learn Black studies in high school, it helps them fight against individual and institutionalized racism.

The results showed that White students gained better knowledge and awareness of the past and present experiences of Black people. With this knowledge and understanding, the White students were empowered to speak out against racism. This research suggests that when White students learn Black studies, it helps to improve race relations and alleviate the tensions between Blacks and Whites.


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