Can Blacks be racists? Black-on-Black principal abuse in an urban school setting

Muhammad Khalifa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This study examines Black student and parental perceptions of exclusionary practices of Black school principals. I ask why students and parents viewed two Black principals as contributing to abusive and exclusionary school environments that marginalized Black students. After a two-year ethnographic study, it was revealed that exclusionary behaviors toward Black students—which was viewed as “abuse” by students and parents—was a reproduction of the district's racism, and thus adds new considerations for discussions around the value of racially-like (i.e., all Black) educators and students. Parents perceived these two Black principals as dealing more harshly and rigidly with the Black students and their families; moreover, analysis of the interview data revealed that the principals rejected the cultural and social capital, and proclivities of Black students, and blamed Black students for their lower achievement and unique behaviors. I draw significant attention to the larger contexts of White supremacy and racism as I examine how Black principals negotiate their own roles, how they understand their own treatment of urban Black students, and how they are (knowing or unknowingly) reproducing oppressive practices of White supremacy on Black students in school.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-282
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 7 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Taylor & Francis.


  • African-American principals
  • White supremacy
  • culturally responsive leadership
  • racism
  • self-hatred


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