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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

If We Don't Show You, Who Will? Children's Window to Africa: A Counter Narrative to Popular Distortions about African American Cultural Identity, History, and Heritage
by Williams Lawrence, Valerie Jean, Ph.D., Union Institute and University, 2015, 169; 3664101
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative and interpretive research examines the relationship between early childhood cultural immersion experiences in Children's Window to Africa (CWTA) and the cultural identity of former participants to answer the research question: Did counter-narratives created by CWTA influence the cultural identity of its participants? If so, how do former participants express this influence? This research also identifies and analyzes counter-narratives created by CWTA to answer the research question: What counter-narratives were created by CWTA to mitigate White hegemonic culture's negative portrayals of African American cultural identity? The framework of this research is Critical Race Theory (CRT) as examined through the lenses of the African-centered value system of Nguzo Saba (Seven Principles) and Sankofa. Through the frameworks described, documents and interviews were interrogated using content analysis. Structured interviews with eight former participants and five former teachers were also analyzed and interpreted. Categories of CWTA documents analyzed and interpreted were: (1) rituals, (2) chants and songs, (3) pledges and affirmations, and (4) images & stories.

Former participants expressed that early childhood experiences in CWTA influenced their cultural identity, sense of boldness, confidence, and pride in being African. Participants also expressed that CWTA helped to stimulate an interest in learning more about their cultural history. Gaining a fundamental knowledge of their cultural and racial self gave them a sense of power. With racial and cultural pride, participants expressed an expectation of reciprocity of cultural and racial dignity and humanity from others. Cultural knowledge displaced doubt and misinformation about their African humanity and cultural identity. One participant noted, "I know we are not who they say we are." Findings of this research suggest that early childhood cultural learning can impact cultural identity and a continued interest in learning about one's culture through young adulthood. The results of this research also determined that counter-narratives created by CWTA influenced cultural identity and helped shape awareness of how African American culture is represented through popular culture.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Steger, MaryAnn E.
School: Union Institute and University
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 77/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, Communication, Early childhood education
Keywords: African American Children, Creating CounteriNarratives, Cultural Identity, Language; Popular Culture, Learning as Fun, Making Meaning
Publication Number: 3664101
ISBN: 978-1-339-14187-9
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