Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Ed Psychology and Research


Educational Research

Committee Chair

Alison A. Happel

Committee Member

Christian Mueller

Committee Member

Rosie Phillips Bingham

Committee Member

Jeff Wilson


The purpose of the study was to critique the campus ecological characteristics in relation to Black student experiences of negotiating racial identity at a large metropolitan university in the mid-south. Using Critical Race Theory (CRT) as the macro theoretical lens and narrative inquiry as the methodology, the study elicited counternarratives that focused on racial identity development, perceptions of campus climate, and experiences of negotiating racial identity. The study employed purposeful sampling to select nine participants who identified as Black or African American. Each participant engaged in a semi-structured interview that ranged from one to three hours in length. Based on thematic analysis, I identified four themes that represented repetitive patterns in the data. While the themes help to organize the data, they were not meant to be generalizable across all nine interviews. Furthermore, I chose to represent the data in the form of extended quotations in order to lessen the decontextualization often associated with coding and thematic analysis. The themes included (a) "Being an African American, you have a lot to prove": Race and respectability; (b) "It's kinda weird when everything is Black": Detachement from and connection to racial identity; (c) "Stuck in the middle": Navigating biculturalism; and (d) "It's a good school, but it's segregated": Division within the campus environment. The themes represent students' lived experiences of navigating racial identity which often equated to aligning with mainstream ideals while distancing themselves from values within their communities. This double conscious paradigm often caused anxiety as students fluctuated from positions of exclusivity and inclusivity. Given the themes associated with this study, conclusions, recommendations, and directions for future research involve strategies for creating more inclusive spaces on college campuses and beyond.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.