Presentation Title: Masquerade Society: Consequences of Code Switching on Black Women’s Self Conceptions
Presenters: Chanel Prince
Abstract: Black women are a rare sighting at Predominantly White Institutions of higher education (PWIs). This body of work explores how one PWI encourages—even requires—black women to negotiate their identities (code switch) in order to succeed, revealing the full extent to which being a minority at a PWI impacts participants’ lives. I explore the role that the institutional context plays in influencing code switching behaviors and their effect on the participants’ identity formations and self-conceptions. Qualitative analysis of interviews revealed that compulsory code switching fosters feelings of inauthenticity, an inability to express themselves as they repress certain (personality, language, and appearance) aspects of their identities, and an active avoidance of paramount social experiences, which hinder identity development. Moreover, persistent code switching has the potential to positively contribute to Black women’s identity formation as it relates to pride in their African/Black features, speech, and culture. Findings demonstrate the importance of considering intersecting identities in research on identity in educational contexts and challenges the idea that individuals passively accept and conform to others’ perceptions of themselves.
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