Title

Being Black:

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Johnson III, Richard

Abstract

Many Black scholars have researched and written about their experiences as Black students at a Predominantly White Institution (PWI). Most of their successes were built on the support they received from their families and friends. More importantly, their personal commitment to being numbered as successful Black students was the impetus for which they were willing to challenge the paradigm that Blacks can indeed succeed in higher education. As a Black Caribbean Diaspora student enrolled at a PWI, I have experienced what it is like to be Black through purposeful living, education, leadership and a divine plan. I have also utilized my Black identity as a vehicle to garner success amidst the challenges I faced being the only Black in academia, readjusting to college life and discovering my own Blackness. It is with this backdrop that I use the Scholarly Personal Narrative (SPN) methodology to write this dissertation and highlight my experience as a Black Caribbean student at a PWI. The research and stories explored during this dissertation were examined through several questions: What is the experience of a Black Caribbean Diaspora student who carries multiple identities at a PWI? What differs, separates, divides, as well as unites, the Black Diaspora students from a racial perspective? How can PWIs communicate confidence in the ability of Black students and engage them in the campus and its academic life regardless of their racial identity? How can Black Diaspora students be retained to successfully achieve a college degree? Additionally, this dissertation focuses on a myriad of experiences and stories from other Black Diaspora students who are from different ethnic backgrounds. This helps to support and answer some of the posed research questions. This SPN methodology includes a literature review on topics of Black Identity Development (Cross, 1978, 1972, 1971), Colorism (Harris, 2009; Reid-Salmon, 2008), and Critical Race Theory (Cole, 2009; Collins, 2007; Roithmayr 1999; West, 1993). Several themes emerged that aligned with my personal narrative and that of my Black Diaspora peers. These included parental involvement, integrative model of parenting (Darling and Steinberg‟s 1993), leadership supported by the African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child,” and purposeful living where faith for a Black Diaspora student is central to their survival. A number of recommendations for how faculty and staff at PWIs can support Black Diaspora students in their educational attainment emerged: recognizing and acknowledging the differences among Black students; supporting, imparting, accepting and encouraging Black students in their education; and reorienting faculty and administrators in matters of race so as to understand Black Diaspora students. My personal narrative further elucidates and universalizes the notion that Black students can be successful in higher education despite the odds that are sometimes against them.

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