African American young adolescent girls' negotiation of identities in and out of school
Harrison, Lisa Michele
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While there has been much literature focusing on African American identity construction, little research has been conducted on the racial identity construction of African American young adolescents. Adding to the literature of racial identity construction, this study relied on qualitative methods to examine how four African American young adolescent girls construct their racial identity and how does this construction influence their way in the world. Two specific research questions were developed to guide this research: 1) What are the larger socio-cultural discourses at play in the construction of African American young adolescent girls’ identities? 2) How do African American young adolescent girls make meaning of their own racial identity? Four African American sixth grade girls were selected as participants for this study. Data was collected through interviews scheduled with the participants and their mothers, observations in various social contexts, and data collected from four group meetings with the participants. The findings from this study were presented through narrative and poetic representation that illuminates the complexity in which identity construction occurred for the participants. Four themes emerged during data analysis. The themes were: 1) Black girls are discussing and contextualizing Blackness in varying contexts. 2) Race is largely situated in a Black White discourse for the girls within this study. 3) When limited information is provided in home, school, and community settings, participants make meaning from dominant discourses. 4) Glimpses of critical thinking about race were occurring with the girls in this study. The themes show the complexity in which African American young adolescent girls are constructing their racial identity.