African American Communication: Exploring Identity and Culture

African American Communication: Exploring Identity and Culture

African American Communication: Exploring Identity and Culture

African American Communication: Exploring Identity and Culture


What communicative experiences are particular to African Americans? How do many African Americans define themselves culturally? How do they perceive intracultural and intercultural communication? These questions are answered in this second edition of African American Communication: Exploring Identity and Culture. Informing multiple audiences interested in African American culture, from cultural researchers and practitioners to educators, policymakers, and community leaders, this innovative and invaluable resource examines the richness and depth of African American communication norms and patterns, as well as African American identities. Positive and healthy African American identities are centrally positioned throughout the book.

Applying the cultural contracts theory and the communication theory of identity, authors Michael L. Hecht, Ronald L. Jackson II, and Sidney A. Ribeau explore relationships among African Americans, as well as between African Americans and European Americans, while highlighting the need for sensitivity to issues of power when discussing race, ethnicity, and culture. This wide-ranging volume provides an extensive review of the relevant literature and offers recommendations designed to encourage understanding of African American communication in a context extending beyond Eurocentric paradigms.

Considering African American identity with a communicative, linguistic, and relational focus, this volume:

• Defines African American identities by describing related terms, such as self, self-concept, personhood and identity;

• Explores Afrocentricity and African American discourse;

• Examines the status of African Americans in the United States using census statistics and national studies from other research agencies;

• Considers identity negotiation and competence; and

• Features a full chapter on African American relationships, including gendered, familial, intimate, adolescent and adult, homosexual, friendship, communal, and workplace relationships.

African American Communication: Exploring Identity and Culture begins an important dialogue in the communication discipline, intercultural studies, African American studies and other fields concerned with the centrality of culture and communication as it relates to human behavior. It is intended for advanced students and scholars in intercultural communication, interpersonal communication, communication theory, African American/Black studies, social psychology, sociolinguistics, education, and family studies.


Many academic research projects begin as creative enterprises that culminate in a finished product, in this case a book. Informal conversations among the authors regarding the lack of information that explains African American communication led to the first empirical study among members of this group. These conversations, which included discussions of African American history and popular culture, sports figures, and rhetoricians all seemed to conclude with awareness that something unique characterizes African American experiences in North America and that this should be exhibited in communication and other expressive forms. Conversations such as these were reinforced by classroom teaching experiences and examples in the media of communication breakdowns and problems that suggested differing communication systems, which lead to alternative interpretive frameworks.

There seemed to be a great deal of attention given to interracial and intercultural communication problems, but little data to help us better understand these phenomena. We initially conceptualized a number of studies to help better understand the complexity of African American—European American communication, a practical task that was ambitious and premature. What was needed, we decided . . .

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