Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Todd Lilly


This action research study began as a way to investigate the impact of the relationships that White teachers have on their Black students and what strategies can be implemented to promote success in the absence of a positive relationship. Historical information provides the reader with the basic understanding of why academic deficiencies exist and continue to exist in the Black community and what strategies inside and outside of school can remedy the achievement gap. This qualitative study provides information directly from the students who experienced the inequities as told through interviews and an anonymous survey. The lack of diversity among teachers and the absence of authentic relationships has oftentimes created an environment that is not conducive or comfortable for Black students. This information is viewed through a critical race lens and the literature that promotes relationships and improving racial disparities is highlighted. Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory, Critical Race Theory, Ladson-Billings’ Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, Brofenbrenner’s Bioecological Systems Theory, and Noddings’ Pedagogy of Caring provide the framework for analyzing the racial inequities and the possible solutions to the educational imbalances. The findings of this study support the racial disparities that have been occurring in the educational system, yet they offer the hope that success is more than attainable through the use of culturally relevant pedagogy and with the proper supports in place.