Document Type



This qualitative, ethnographic study explores the various tensions and struggles around racial identity that thirteen African American youth encounter while participating in a culturally responsive, library-based book club called Circle of Voices. Data were collected twice a week over four months in an after school community literacy intervention program in a public library and a university Black cultural library setting. Thematic analysis of the corpus of data and a micro ethnographic discourse analysis were performed on the data. Whiteness and double consciousness serve as complementary theoretical frameworks. Findings reveal that: a) tension is an integral component in helping African American youth to explicitly articulate their racial identity in book discussions where issues of race are made central; b) whiteness functions as an unarticulated, yet hegemonic “other” in racially sensitive book discussions that structures how African American youth act, interact, and react to the text and each other; and c) using African American literature in culturally responsive book clubs with African American youth can create opportunities for the youth participants to articulate their racialized experiences in generative ways. This research poses implications for secondary literacy scholars, particularly librarians, seeking to implement culturally responsive approaches to literacy instruction into their practices as a way to better facilitate learning among students of color. It also advances research on whiteness in education by providing an in-depth look at how whiteness informs the actions and interactions of non-white youth in a culturally-centered, literature-based curricular format.


Library and Information Science


Dissertation was completed at Indiana University. Copyright © 2008 Kafi Kumasi.