Sociology | Davenport College

Kweku Djan
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Senior Essay Title: "Feeling in the Middle: Ethnicity-Race Identity Formation Among Second-Generation African and Afro-Caribbean Immigrants"

Adviser: Rourke O'Brien

Abstract: Second-generation African and Afro-Caribbean immigrants can be caught between their family’s ethnic heritage and the expectations of them as black Americans, which can cause an internal identity crisis and feeling of alienation from these communities. College provides a unique setting for investigating identity development among this demographic, given the independence and novel environment that these individuals must navigate. I interviewed fifteen second-generation African and Afro-Caribbean immigrants at Yale University about their cultural upbringing and ethnic-racial identity. Participants confirmed that others assumed them to be black Americans even though they felt alienated from both black Americans and first-generation African and Afro-Caribbean immigrants. However, an equal number indicated that they more fully embraced their black American identity in college, as those that embraced their ethnic heritage. Furthermore, black campus organizations emerged as a form of boundary making that reflected the ethnic-racial identity conflict that they had. Ultimately, these individuals exercised agency in creating and maintaining spaces where they felt most comfortable in their ethnic-racial identities.