Racial identity and psychological coping strategies of African American males at a predominantly white university
Bridges, Eric Marcell
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The research of William Cross (1971) in the area of Black racial identity has demonstrated that the emergence of a Black identity is complex, multifaceted and dependent upon the context and historical space in which African Americans find themselves. A Black racial identity can influence the coping strategies that African Americans may use when confronted with stress that is exacerbated by living in a society where racism exists. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact that racial identity has on the development of psychologically healthy coping strategies among African American males. William Cross’s model of Psychological Nigrescence provided the theoretical framework for this study of Black racial identity and psychological coping strategies used by the participants of this study. Data were collected using focus group interviews with six African American male students. A phenomenological approach was used to examine the relationship of these African American males’ racial identity and their psychological coping strategies derived from their everyday knowledge, perceptions and experiences. The results of this study indicate that these students relied upon emotion based coping strategies through their support networks among African American women, African American faculty, other African American men, and the African American community to cope with racial stress. Results also indicate that these African American male students employed problem based coping strategies to deal with racial stress through strategic planning and goal setting. Recommendations for future research are discussed that may help future African American male students.