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Volume 37, Issue 3 (2008)

Fluttering Around the Racial Tension of Trust: Proximal Approaches to Suspended Black Student-Teacher Relationships

pp. 354—358

I was honored to be invited to write a response to this wonderful article by Gregory and Ripski (2008) on adolescent trust in teachers. The authors have done a thorough job of explaining the background literature on teacher–student relationship trust, laying out how this relationship might lead to suspension rates and discussing the consequences of teacher trust for student well-being and future life challenges within the educational, employment, and justice systems. They also rightly identify that the vulnerability of school suspensions disproportionately falls on Black students and target student–teacher relational dynamics as the troubling source of this injustice. The case has been made elsewhere, I might add, that this disproportionality of suspension and expulsion rates for Black youth is not associated with a greater preponderance of misbehavior on the part of Black youth compared to other youth (Advancement Project, 2005). Gregory and Ripski’s (2008) article provides a highly useful, albeit somewhat distal, analysis of the problem. Their research highlights the need for a more proximal analysis of the racial dynamics within the student–teacher relationship that might contribute to misinterpretation, disrespect, and hostility towards Black youth in general, and Black males specifically (Stevenson, 2003a).

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