Show Less
Restricted access

The (Re-)Making of a Black American

Tracing the Racial and Ethnic Socialization of Caribbean American Youth


Chonika Coleman-King

Historically, Blacks in the United States have been treated as a homogenous group with little regard for distinctions in ethnicity and immigrant status. However, the growing number of Black immigrants to the United States, and their location at the intersection of immigrant opportunity and racial barriers, has prompted increased interest in the group’s integration experiences. Grounded in the notion that racism is an inescapable marker of the Black experience in the United States, The (Re-)Making of a Black American explores the ways children of Black immigrants from the English-speaking Caribbean come to understand their racial and ethnic identities, given the socialization messages they receive from their parents and their experiences with institutionalized racism and racial hierarchies in a U.S. middle school. This book highlights the contradictions between parental and school socialization messages and the struggle that ensues as Caribbean American youth are forcibly (re-)made into a specific brand of Black Americans.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter Two: Life Narratives: Identities in Transition


← 59 | 60 → CHAPTER TWO

Life Narratives: Identities in Transition

After wrapping up the CWT (“Can We Talk?”) project in June of the prior school year, I began the next school year by exploring only the experiences of Caribbean American students. My comfort with students, teachers, and school personnel made my transition to working with Caribbean American students and families rather smooth. I solicited the contact information of Morristown students who expressed interest in participating in this study and began calling Caribbean parents to further discuss the parameters of the study. Calling the homes of children whose families hailed from various regions of the Caribbean, I heard a multiplicity of accents and languages indicative of distinct cultural and ethnic backgrounds. In several instances, I reached Creole-speaking parents and grandparents from Haiti, whose thick accents and inability to speak English created barriers to communicating. I also spoke with parents from the English-speaking Caribbean, and while I could understand these parents very well – they shared marked similarities to my family’s dialect – their accents, as much as the language barriers in other cases, bespoke the intersections and tensions often endemic to the amalgamation of several distinct cultures under one roof.

Although it was often difficult to distinguish Caribbean American and Black American students from one another at school, the first meeting with parents of Caribbean American students reflected a very different reality. The following vignette demonstrates the ways in which parents’ ethnic and cultural markers came alive in...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.