Internalized Racism and Academic Success: Understanding the Role of Cultural Racism in the Lives of Young Leaders of Color

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This interactive workshop will focus on students’ racial identity development and the relationship between their identity development and their academic lives. The workshop will begin with an activity …

This interactive workshop will focus on students’ racial identity development and the relationship between their identity development and their academic lives. The workshop will begin with an activity geared toward understanding racial identity development, and race and racism in the U.S. more broadly. This will be followed by an overview of research findings from 27 Black (male and female) high school students, focusing on students’ internalization of culturally racist stereotypes about what it means to be Black.

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  • 1. HEATHER JENKINS, PH.D. COLLEGE PREP/ RESEARCH & EVALUATION COORDINATOR BUFFALO PREP [email_address] Internalized Racism and Academic Success: Understanding the Role of Cultural Racism in the Lives of Young Leaders of Color
  • 2. Workshop Goals
    • To engage in a meaningful discussion about Color-blind Racism in the United States.
    • To engage in a meaningful discussion about the implications of internalized racism for youth of color.
    • To think about ways in which the affects of systemic racism can be mitigated as we strive to foster the development of positive racial identities in young leaders of color.
  • 3. Study Background
    • Qualitative/Ethnographic Research Methods
      • One-on-one interviews, observations, and document analyses
    • Three independent private secondary day schools
      • Williams Academy, Bradford Academy, and The Richmond School
      • Predominantly White, UMC, Historically Elite
      • 5-15% Black Students
    • Northeastern US region; high racial and economic segregation
      • Top 10 most segregated and poorest regions in the country
  • 4. Study Background (con’t)
    • 28 Student Participants
      • 27 Black (African, African American, West Indian, Multiracial)
      • 11 male, 16 female
      • 1 Puerto Rican; female
      • Most WC, LMC; 2 UMC
    • 11 Parent Participants
      • 4 male, 7 female for 9 student participants
      • West Indian, African American, African, Multiracial
      • Most WC, LMC; 2 UMC
    • 3 Full-time College Counselors
      • 2 White female, 1 White male; all MC
  • 5. Color-blind Racism
    • What is Color-blind Racism? Bonilla-Silva (2003) asserts that color-blind racism is a subtle, insidious form of racism based on the belief that good White people don’t see color and treat all people as individuals . This form of racism, which has replaced more overt, Jim Crow forms of racism , has four main frames: abstract liberalism, naturalization, cultural racism, and minimization of racism.
    • What is Cultural Racism? “relies on culturally based arguments such as ‘Mexicans do not put much emphasis on education’ or ‘blacks have too many babies’ to explain the standing of minorities in society” (Bonilla-Silva, 2003, p. 28). Bold biological claims regarding race and racism have been replaced by cultural claims that serve to explain lack of achievement in regard to the educational and socio-economic mobility of oppressed groups.
  • 6. Color-blind Racism (con’t)
    • An example of cultural racism…
    • Ms. Henry, a Richmond School parent, stated that she tries not to
    • “ act too Black” when she interacts with the school. When asked what she
    • meant by this Ms. Henry explained: “I probably did scare the White
    • people. I have that personality, and they show expressions – “Is the Black
    • woman going to beat me up?” I consciously try to make a point of not
    • going in there and being Black, like, “Y’all [expletive] gotta get that
    • [expletive] together.” You know, I don’t want to have that stereotype—her
    • mother is [a] ghetto ‘hood rat. So, I’ve made sure of the proper
    • terminology, the issue at hand, not to blow it out of context. [I] address
    • things accordingly. I [go] there in a professional manner; I make a point
    • of doing that with them.”
  • 7. Internalization of Racism
    • How does racism become internalized?
    • This mistreatment [racism] has installed heavy chronic distress patterns upon us as a people
    • and as individuals. The result has been that these distress patterns, created by oppression
    • and racism from the outside, have been played out in the only two places it has seemed
    • "safe" to do so. First, upon members of our own group... Second, upon ourselves through all
    • manner of self-invalidation, self-doubt, isolation, fear, feelings of powerlessness, and
    • despair. Internalized oppression is this turning upon ourselves, upon our families, and upon
    • our own people the distress patterns that result from the racism and oppression of the
    • majority society…
    • What are the implications of internalized racism?
  • 8. Racial Identity Development
    • Cross’s 5 Stages of Black Racial Identity Development
      • Stage 1 , Pre-encounter: “it is better to be White”
      • Stage 2 , Encounter: forced acknowledgement of racism
      • Stage 3 , Immersion/Emersion: active avoidance of “symbols” of Whiteness
      • Stage 4 , Internalization: connected to Black peers; willing engage with Whites
      • Stage 5 , Internalization-Commitment: personal sense of what it means to be Black; commitment to the welfare of Blacks as a whole; comfortable interacting with Whites; positive racial identity
      • Cross, 1991; Tatum, 1997
  • 9. Developing Leaders of Color
    • What role does internalized racism play in the development of a healthy racial identity?
    • What are the implications of the aforementioned issues (internalized racism and the development of a positive racial identity) in the creation of young leaders of color?
    • What role does education (through various types of educational institutions and organizations) play in redressing the impact of internalized racism on young leaders of color?
    • What are some specific measures that should be employed to redress/mitigate the impact of internalized racism?
  • 10. Suggestions & Recommendations
    • Education on the socio-historical context of racial inequalities in society and education.
    • Education on the endurance and persistence of White Supremacy in the US.
    • More overt discussions of stereotypes as related to the aforementioned concerns.
    • Access to role models of color who personify the breaking of culturally racist stereotypes.
    • Access to White role models who actively reject racism and adopt an anti-racist philosophy.
  • 11. THANK YOU! HEATHER JENKINS, PH.D. [email_address] 716.603.6895 Questions, Comments??