Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This qualitative study explored middle-class African American parental perceptions of racism in their children's public schools. Twelve African American parents with either a bachelor's degree or a total median household income of $48, 451(U.S. Census Bureau, 2007) were asked a series of open-ended questions regarding their personal experiences with individual, cultural, and institutional forms of racism, as well as their children's experiences. Participants were also given Phinney's (1992) Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure to assess their sense of ethnic group membership, one of many variables found to influence perceptions of racism. The major findings revealed an achieved ethnic identity status for all respondents, indicating feelings of belonging and confidence in their ethnicity. Most respondents' recalled feeling welcome at their children's schools and no recollections of personal experiences with overt racism. They also perceived their children's school environments as intolerant of overt generalizations and stereotypes being made about ethnic groups. Nevertheless, parents were concerned about their children's contacts with racism. Among these concerns were: being passed over for resources; limited exposure to African American culture, persons, experiences, and the like; narrow and stereotypical representations of African Americans when they are depicted; unfair disciplinary practices; and the lack of African American teachers and administrators. One superfluous finding was irrespective of respondents' perceptions of individual, cultural, and institutional racism in their children's schools, respondents' demonstrated a commitment to their children's educational process. Moreover, respondents used active forms of coping to address racism in their children's schools, whether objective or subjective, subtle or overt.


Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2008. iii, 96 p. Includes bibliographical references (p. 72-80)