Academic journal article International Journal of Multicultural Education

Critical Multicultural Citizenship Education among Black Immigrant Youth: Factors and Challenges

Academic journal article International Journal of Multicultural Education

Critical Multicultural Citizenship Education among Black Immigrant Youth: Factors and Challenges

Article excerpt

Theoretical Framework Methods Findings Discussions and Implications Notes References Appendix A--Interview Protocol Author Contact 

The Immigration Act of 1965 (which became effective in 1968) paved the way for an increasing number of immigrants to the United States. The act liberalized American immigration policy, abolishing the quota system based on immigrants' national origins, and liberalized American immigration policy (Banks, 2008). Before 1968, most immigrants who migrated to the United States came from Europe. However, the trend changed in the 21st century as most immigrants now come from Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa (American Community Survey, 2012; U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).

According to United States Census Bureau (2014), a record 3.8 million Black immigrants live in the United States today, more than four times the number in 1980. The population of foreign-born Blacks (Africa and the Caribbean) has grown from 3.1% of the Black population in 1980 to 8.7% in 2013. By 2060, 16.5% of the U.S. Black population will be foreign-born blacks (American Community Survey, 2014). More recently, the population of African immigrants almost doubled (McCabe, 2011) growing from 881,100 in 2010 to 1,606,914 in 2012.

Currently, a large influx of U.S. Black immigrant youth come from heritage countries with educational and cultural backgrounds that are different from the systems in the United States. For example, a number of youth migrate from undemocratic counties with little or no political discourse at school that facilitates discussions surrounding democratic citizenship education (Waters, 1999). The histories and backgrounds of Black immigrant youth reflect the complex ways in which they engage in teaching and learning, specifically in the context of advancing critical multicultural citizenship education.

As a result of these demographic changes and their ramifications, teachers and policy makers have been tasked to find ways to help Black immigrant youth assimilate and transition into U.S. schools. Specifically, there is the need to examine and promote multicultural citizenship education to enhance democratic education (Banks, 2008; Knight & Watson, 2014; Ramakrishnan & Bloemraad, 2008) for these immigrant youth. Multicultural citizenship education is defined here as the process of providing opportunity for students and teachers to critically examine the curriculum through multiple perspectives in hope of gaining the skills necessary to become members of diverse and socially just communities (Dilworth, 2004).

Prior research by John Ogbu concerning minority students emphasized immigrant students' interest in participation in the destination culture and their degree of fit into the U.S. hierarchy of ethnicity and race (Gibson, 1989; Ogbu 1991; Olsen, 2001; Stepick & Stepick, 2000; Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-Orozco, 2001; Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-Orozco, 1995). In contrast, cultural conservatives have focused less on "fit" and claimed that all immigrant youth, regardless of their generation, will adapt to "American" culture such as dress, music and entertainment tastes, and food preferences (Konczal 2001; Waters, 1999), and will become Americanized and demonstrate a preference for the use of English (Portes & Rumbaut, 2001). Notwithstanding, a significant number of immigrant youth align and identify themselves with their home country and place less emphasis on American identity (Alba & Nee, 2003).

In most cases, teachers, educators, and policy makers are concerned about how immigrant youth at school could be taught the basics of civic and multicultural citizenship education to promote their allegiance and understanding of the values of American culture (Banks, 2007; Knight, 2011; Knight & Watson, 2014). To date, the identifying factors that promote the enhancement of critical multicultural education among Black immigrant youth are understudied (Knight, 2011; Knight & Watson, 2014). …

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