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Parsing the Gulf between Africans and African Americans

Ashly Nsangou () and Lauren Dundes ()
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Ashly Nsangou: Sociology Department, McDaniel College, Westminster, MD 21157, USA
Lauren Dundes: Sociology Department, McDaniel College, Westminster, MD 21157, USA

Social Sciences, 2018, vol. 7, issue 2, 1-26

Abstract: The rise in African immigrants to the US provides an opportunity to assess relations between Africans and African Americans in college. An online survey of 322 current and recently-graduated college students (including 45 Africans, 160 African Americans, and 117 whites) assessed respondents’ experiences of racism in US high schools and colleges. Semi-structured interviews of 30 students (10 African, 10 African American and 10 white students) supplemented these data. Even within a sociopolitical context of more visible racial intolerance, Black intra-racial cohesion was absent. Although more first- and second-generation Africans (73%) felt that they had been judged while living in the US compared to African Americans (34%) or whites (20%), for 70–80% of respondents, this had occurred only in high school. Despite experiencing these judgments, Africans’ identity related more to their focus on education than their race, reflected in a higher proportion who felt intense family pressure to attend college (65%) compared to African Americans (37%) and whites (39%). Interview data confirmed previous reports in the literature that African Americans lack a sense of connection to Africans, attributed to Africans’ purported sense of superiority and disregard for African Americans’ ongoing struggle to end oppression. These mixed-methods data suggest that intermingling in the college environment has not resulted in first- and second-generation Africans and African Americans sharing a common in-group, race-based identity. We discuss the implications of overlooking ethnic distinctions due to presumptions of racial homogeneity that deprive Black individuals of their uniqueness.

Keywords: Africans; African Americans; Black; ethnicity; race; racism; stereotypes; acculturation; immigrants; identity; college student; slur; African booty scratcher; akata; assimilation; bullying (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A B N P Y80 Z00 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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