Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Michael Monahan

Committee Member

Lindsey Stewart

Committee Member

Shawn Gallagher

Committee Member

Paul C. Taylor


James Baldwin describes the Black male in the White gaze as a “fixed star,” meaning that there is only one way that Black males can be, and that way is deviant. However, we often do not examine what happens in Black-male psychology because of the social ascription of criminality, via tropes like the “Myth of the Black-Male Rapist” and “thug.” In this project, I investigate what this does to Black-male freedom and self-recognition. I make the argument that narratives influence one’s concept of self and that the political negotiation one must do in return impedes their freedom. To help solve this problem, I argue for a resistance methodology based on historical transparency and storytelling. I argue that instead of strictly doing moments of resistance in identity politics of exceptionalism, like wearing suits or code-switching to protect oneself, we should illuminate the colonial history in African-American male experiences that created these tropes and this social landscape that Black males must navigate. In doing so, the ascriptions are unveiled as lies, both conscious and subconscious, and Black males can engage in a resistance that refuses to perform against White expectations. This methodology seeks to put the agency back in Black males’ hands and assert that Black males were never normatively criminal.


Data is provided by the student

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Open Access