Open Access Dissertation
Date of Award
"I CAN'T JUST TURN OVER MY DAUGHTER AND LET IT BE":
BLACK MOTHERS AND THE RACIAL SOCIALIZATION OF THEIR DAUGHTERS ATTENDING WHITE SCHOOLS
CHASITY YASHICA BAILEY-FAKHOURY
Advisor: Dr. Heather E. Dillaway
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
Studies of parental racial socialization and racial identity development have tended to focus on urban, lower-income African American parents and their adolescent or early adulthood children. Findings emanating from these studies are then extrapolated to all African Americans. Disregarding within group differences produces gaps in our knowledge. This mixed-methods study pushes the research further by investigating the approaches suburban, middle-class Black mothers in metropolitan Detroit take to promote a positive racial-gender identity in their elementary-age daughters attending a predominantly white school. Metropolitan Detroit provides a unique milieu for undertaking this study. The 2005 American Community Survey reports that for the first time in fifty years, Detroit's African American population fell. Between 2000 and 2005, Detroit lost 90,000 of its black residents while during the same period, the surrounding suburbs increased their African American populations. Moving from a majority black city and school district to predominantly white ones means that parents will encounter situations where race and their children's racial identity take on a salience that heretofore they may have not fathomed. Parental racial socialization can help a child develop a healthy racial identity that can result in various positive academic, social, and psychological outcomes, particularly in settings where persons of color have been treated pejoratively.
Analyzed through a sociopsychological framework that rests upon intersections theory (a vehicle through which we observe how social systems, structures, and institutions make racial socialization and racial identity viable and necessary features of our social world) and the social-cognitive learning theory (which asserts that socialization results from observation, modeling, vicarious reinforcement, and imitation), African American mothers in this study engage in important racialized child-rearing work. It was found that mothers racially socialize their daughters at a higher rate than found in existing studies. Significant associations between racial socialization message type and transmission mode exists. Additionally, mother's racial identity attitude can predict the degree of endorsement of various racial socialization messages. Lastly, mothers use a set of motherwork strategies to advocate for their daughters. Three of these strategies are: Presence, Imaging, and Code-switching. Presence consists of being visible in the school and at school functions; being deliberate in interactions with school personnel to gain leverage that will benefit the daughters; and the keen awareness of one's physical appearance and the role it plays as mother's advocate for their daughters. Imaging consists of mothers working hard to teach and show their daughters how to embrace their phenotypic features by using role models to reinforce a positive self-image and by reinforcing reflections of their daughters through home décor and activities outside the home. Code-switching refers to one's ability to move between cultural milieus at will and with fluidity. Many mothers in this study actively taught their children to be bi/tri-culturally fluent as a way to help their daughters navigate various domains with dexterity. Each of these strategies--which appear to be connected to the academic success of their daughters--are used by African American mothers to promote a positive racial-gender identity in their elementary-age daughters attending a predominantly white school. Investigating the racial socialization strategies used by suburban African American mothers in promoting a positive racial identity in their elementary-age daughters attending predominantly white schools is a relevant undertaking as black residents continue to leave the city of Detroit for its surrounding suburban communities. As districts increase their African American populations, the strategies identified by this study may aid in the creation of curriculum, the development of teacher training programs, and the implementation of action plans seeking to close the achievement gap between black and white students.
Bailey-Fakhoury, Chasity, ""i Can't Just Turn Over My Daughter And Let It Be": Black Mothers And The Racial Socialization Of Their Daughters Attending White Schools" (2013). Wayne State University Dissertations. 747.