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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:53513
Doc. No:TL23467
Call number:‭3345821‬
Main Entry:Chinwe L. Okpalaoka
Title & Author:You don't look like one, so how are you African?: How West African immigrant girls in the U.S. learn to (re)negotiate ethnic identities in home and school contextsChinwe L. Okpalaoka
College:The Ohio State University
Date:2008
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2008
Page No:455
Abstract:Early adolescence is when many physical, biological and psychological changes occur. Among the many transition events going on at this time is the move from elementary to middle, junior high and high school. It is at this critical time that adolescents begin to question their identity and their place in the world (Erikson, 1963; Tatum, 1997). Tatum (1997) argues that "for Black youth, asking 'Who am I?' includes thinking about 'Who am I ethnically and/or racially'" (p. 53)? For West African immigrant adolescent girls, the question of who they are ethnically and racially is further complicated by the fact that they are also trying to find their place in American society where some people may assume that they are African-American and identify as such, without taking into consideration the role that their West African immigrant backgrounds play in their ethnic identity formation. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to examine how home and school experiences shape the ethnic identities of young immigrant girls and what their stories might teach us about their educational and socio-cultural needs. The overarching research question is, "What ethnic identities do these young girls choose and what factors in the home and school contexts shape their choice of ethnic identity?" This study is informed by a qualitative research paradigm and employs narrative analysis as a methodology within qualitative research because of its "use of stories as data" (Merriam, 2002). Because of the absence and invisibility of adolescent girls of West African ascent in the literature, and because of my experiences as an African immigrant parent and researcher, I have chosen to work within the Black feminist epistemology which makes the race and ethnicity of the researchers and respondents a focal point (Madriz, 2003). I also use Gay's (2000) culturally-responsive pedagogy as a framework within which to understand the impact that the treatment of Africa in the school curriculum through the inclusion of African projects, history and literature, had on the participants' ethnic identity. Finally, I use Phinney's (1990) stage model of ethnic identity development as a theoretical framework with which I attempt to position these adolescent girls and their ethnic identity choices along the continuum of three stages of ethnic identity development: an unexamined ethnic identity, exploration and commitment. An analysis of the data generated through focus group and personal interview transcripts, field notes, participant and researcher journals revealed five findings that characterized the participants' experiences. They are (1) the girls' experiences with African-American stereotypes of Africans, the girls' stereotypes of African-Americans, and the impact on participants' choice of ethnic identity; (2) personal agency and the importance participants attributed to their sense of choice in their ethnic identity construction; (3) the significant role that the participants families played in their ethnic identity development by setting standards for their daughters which were manifested through family ethnic practices in relation to respect for adult authority, gender expectations, dating and marriage, choice of peers, and academic achievement; (4) the importance that the participants placed on immigrant peer relationships and the impact of this on the participants' ethnic identity and (5) the connection between the girls' experiences with the treatment of Africa in the curriculum and their ethnic identity. Further implications for teachers, policy makers, parents and leaders in West African communities are included, along with recommendations for future research with this student population.
Subject:Social sciences; Education; Psychology; West Africa; Immigrants; Girls; Ethnic identity; Ghana; Nigeria; Adolescents; Africa; African-American; Ghanaian; Nigerian; Black studies; School counseling; Developmental psychology; 0519:School counseling; 0325:Black studies; 0620:Developmental psychology
Added Entry:A. Errante
Added Entry:The Ohio State University