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Cross & Fhagen-Smith's Model of Black Identity Development

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Nate Faust-Shucker

on 14 September 2014

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Transcript of Cross & Fhagen-Smith's Model of Black Identity Development

Cross & Fhagen-Smith's Model of Black Identity Development
Peony Fhagen-Smith
Currently a Associate Professor at Wheaton University teaching several psychology classes.

Ph.D in Developmental Psychology from Pennsylvania State University.

Worked with Cross to revise the racial identification model of African Americans, by making the model a lifespan model.
Most research rarely addresses the applicability to higher education or student affairs.

Existing models do no account for the complexity of other factors that influence life.

Racial identity theories and models represent only a portion of what student affairs educators need to know to ease racial tension and create healthy environments.
Black children accept without critical reflection the identity they have developed as a result of their socialization.

Achieve identity status by determining that their black self-concept is based on their beliefs rather than the beliefs of others.

Individuals may confirm or redefine their race salience.
William E. Cross
Currently a clinical professor in Higher Education and Clinical Psychology at the University of Denver

Earned his Ph.D from Princeton University and taught at several universities.

Created a 5 stage nigrescence model in 1971, but condensed to 4 stage model in 1991

Cross's model is the foundation of the current model of black identity devlopment revised with Fhagen-Smth.
Scholars have noted that race has no biological premise.

Racial Identity theories focus on the role of race and the extent to which it is incorporated into identity and self-concept.

Racial identity is defined as, "A sense of a group or collective identity based on one's perception that he or she shares a common racial heritage with a particular racial group.
Nigrescence Theory
Nigrescence refers to the "process of becoming black".

Introduces three concepts after revisions of old model: personal identity (PI), reference group orientation (RGO), and race salience.
PI - refers to the traits and characteristics that comprise an individual's personality.
RGO - describes what a person values, how the individual values the world, and the lens through which the individual's philosophical and political views are filtered.
Race salience - the importance or significance of race in a person's approach to life

Cross and Fhagen-Smith approached the black identity development using a life span perspective to include a larger discourse of human development.
Importance of Racial Identity Development in Student Affairs
Student affairs professionals must understand that every student comes into universities with varying degrees of racial development and experiences with students of other races.

There will be mistakes and words spoken that are not meant for harm, but we have to be ready to have the intentional conversations.

Discuss the similarities that are evident within he different development theories. A black student may be struggling with their fit on campus for similar reasons a Latino student is. Providing an outlet for those conversations will be beneficial.
Nigrescence Life Span Approach
A three pattern apporach:
A. Describes a normative process wherein individuals have developed a black identity as a result of "formative socialization experiences".

B. African Americans who are not socialized toward blackness or have not formed a helathy black identity usually experience a conversion in adulthood.

C. Always occurs and involves nigrescence recycling, a process that involves an expanision or modification of black identity throughout adulthood.
Researched related to racial identity development has largely centered on black identity.

Research mainly on black racial identity examines the phenomenon in counseling situations.

Studies show that racial identity stage and self-esteem are related.

Racial identity has no correlation between race or academic outcomes of college students.
Sector 1: Infancy and Childhood in Early Black Identity Development
Factors include family income, traditions, school, church, and practices.

All historical events contribute to the early experiences of black children

These factors make up the human ecologies of black children who are unaware of racism or racial identity.
Sector 2: Preadolescence
As a result of parental socialization, three identity types tend to emerge
Low race salience - receive few or no messages from their parents regarding race and place no significance of being black

High race salience - taught to view black culture as a important aspect of self-concept.

Internalized racism - See patterns of negativity toward being black or toward black people in their immediate family.

Sector 3:
Sector 4: Early Adulthood
The three identity types that emerge in preadolescence and were potentially explored during adolescence are present in early adulthood

Those who have achieved high salience start to personalize their sense of blackness.

Black adults who have low race salience or internalized racism may never experience adult nigrescence.
Sector 5: Adult Nigrescence
Represents Cross's original model.
Nigrescence has four stages:
Pre-encounter - involves two identity types, low race salience (pre-encounter assimilation) and internalized racism (pre-encounter anti-black).

Encounter - occurs when black people experience an event that causes conflict with understanding of racial identity.

Immersion-emersion - individuals have a clear sense of identity they wish to shed, but have little information about the identity they wish to assume

Emersion - move beyond the superficial characteristic in the immersion phase, individuals adopt a more altruistic and authentic understadnig of black identity.
Sector 6: Nigrescence Recycling
Occurs when an individual's preexisting black self-concept is called into question.

Adults reflect on the emerging identit issue and subject it ot close scrutiny as they seek resolution.

Throughout adulthood, African Americans will continue to be prompted to address issues or questions of identity.
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