Shaping Identity: A Critical Analysis of Black Students' Experiences in Independent Private Schools

Event Type: OCCRL

Speaker Information: Tina B. Evans and Devean R. Owens

National Association of Independent Schools' People of Color Conference (Workshop)

This presentation highlights the experiences of Black students in predominantly white independent private schools in large cities in the West and South. It investigates how Black students develop, negotiate and survive the daily trauma of oppression during this crucial stage of development. In these elite institutions, values and identities are being put forth. Since schools inform identity development for all adolescents, they remain integral in shaping Black students’ sense of themselves, of which race and class are salient features of this process. To be clear, in predominantly white independent schools, the intersection of race and class have the potential to compromise developmental processes. These institutions expect Black students to conform to white cultural hegemonic standards to achieve academic success. Even still, many families are choosing to enroll their Black students in predominantly white independent schools with hopes and dreams of an academically prosperous future. Thus, it is necessary to understand the place of students of color, particularly those of African descent, as their mere existence challenges the identity of the dominant culture of independent schools.