Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



The purpose of this study was to investigate the lived experiences of cool for Black male college students. Cool, defined as a means to navigate cross-cultural structures, serves as Black men’s acknowledgement of, and response to, the rules of their self-identified cultural group when confronted by dominant racial, gendered, and/or class hegemonies. Results of this study note that cool is a major part of the fabric in the identity development of Black males and is contextualized through environmental factors. For this study, four theoretical frameworks were used to understand Black male cool: Phinney’s (1989) Ethnic Development Model, 2) Performance Theory (Butler, 1988), 3) Face-Identity negotiation theory (Ting-Toomey & Kurogi, 1998) and 4) Cultural Capital (Bourdieu, 1986; Carter, 2003; Yosso, 2005). These theoretical frameworks were merged together to create a textured analysis of cool. Texturing for this academic study established a greater “feel” and connection with the topic it is analyzing. Through texturing, I was able view cool through a complex lens in order to assess how cool was learned, performed, and advanced for Black male students. In order to investigate Black male cool, I adopted a quasi-phenomenological qualitative research design, rooted in a social constructivist worldview. To obtain data for this study I conducted one to two-hour semi-structured in-depth interviews with 11 Black male students and employed a version of photo elicitation called framing. Framing is the process of identifying a visual representation of an idea, behavior, or concept, after speaking about the experience with that idea, behavior or concept. For this study the participants were asked to share their lived experiences with cool and to later frame cool. Through in-depth interviews and framing, data triangulation was accomplished, and four major themes spoke to the experiences of the participants. For the participants (1) cool is learned and influenced by one’s environment; (2) the experience of cool is an expression of self (self awareness); (3) The experience of cool provides access to multiple spaces, people, and relationships; and (4) The experience of cool creates opportunity to (re)define self.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Mitchell, Roland

Included in

Education Commons