Publication Date

Spring 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)




Jason Laker


African American/Black youth, Independent Schools, Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity, private, independent schools, Racial identity

Subject Areas

Educational leadership


While private, independent schools are homes to students of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, the subjective experiences of African American students within these spaces are distinct. Twelve African American high school students attending ten different private, independent schools were asked to describe their racial and ethnic backgrounds, and explain how race is manifested in their schooling experiences. A methodological bricolage, including ground theory methods, is intricately woven into the fabric of this study to reflect the rich tapestry of African American/Black youth identities and their experiences in independent schools that underscore youth’s interpretation of contemporary black culture and my personal reflections on high school. This study begins with a review of the characteristics of independent schools, racial socialization, and Black racial identity literature to understand better how it informs adolescents’ self-concept and perceptions of how others feel about them and how they feel about other Blacks. Next, an examination of how the private, independent school settings of Black youth serve as sites that inform participants' racial identity development through their interactions with peers across lines of difference, peers who participate in race-based affinity groups, and supportive non-parental adults, follows. These findings are shown to contribute to bodies of literature that explore racial identity among Black youth, which helps to explain adolescents' processes of defining race or ethnicity as central to their identity. Finally, the implications of this work for administrators, teachers, and parents concludes the study.