"I'm not enough of anything!": The racial and ethnic identity constructions and negotiations of one-point-five and second generation Nigerians
Awokoya, Janet Tolulope
Wiseman, Donna L
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For many African youth, questions of identity are pressing concerns. Many who were born in, but raised outside of their country of origin, known as one-point-five immigrants, and their second generation counterparts (Rong & Brown, 2002), often find themselves at the center of several conflicting cultures. These youth are often challenged in their ability to negotiate and reconcile the varying expectations of their respective racial and ethnic groups. While living in multiple, cultural worlds is the experiences of many minority youth (Phelan et al., 1991), it is uniquely challenging for Black immigrant youth as both their blackness and immigrant background make negotiating their racial and ethnic identities more challenging, than non-black and non-immigrant minority youth. Using qualitative methodology (questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and focus group), this dissertation explored the manner in which eleven, one-point-five and second generation Nigerian college students construct and negotiate their racial and ethnic identities. The research was guided by four broad research questions: (1) How do one-point-five and second generation Nigerian college students describe and experience their interactions with Africans and non-Africans (peers, family, and school personnel)? (2) How do they describe and experience their processes of racial and ethnic identity development? (3) How do their interactions with Africans and non-Africans shape their racial and ethnic identity development? (4) How do they negotiate their racial and ethnic identities among Africans and non-Africans? The results revealed three major findings that characterized the identity experiences of one-point-five and second generation Nigerian immigrants. First, participants often constructed and negotiated their racial and ethnic identities differently within their families, peer groups and the schooling context. Second, participants had to "learn" the meaning of blackness in the U.S. context, which significantly impacted how they experienced their racial identities. Lastly, participants often felt challenged about the authenticity of their Nigerian identity, by both Africans and non-Africans alike. This study provides a significantly more nuanced discussion on the identity constructions and negotiations of one of the fastest growing segments of the diverse black population--African immigrant youth.