Academic journal article Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development

Nigrescence Theory: Current Status and Challenges for the Future

Academic journal article Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development

Nigrescence Theory: Current Status and Challenges for the Future

Article excerpt

This article raises a number of critical questions for scale development and theorizing in the field of Black racial identity. In particular, the authors suggest that research on Black racial identity would benefit from longitudinal studies and the examination of the existence of overarching racial identity constructs.

Este articulo plantea varias preguntas criticas sobre el desarrollo de escalas y teorias en el campo de la Identidad Racial Negra. En lo particular, los autores sugieren que investigaciones basadas en la Identidad Racial Negra se beneficiarian con estudios longitudinales y la examinacion de la existencia de conceptos expansivos sobre la identidad racial.

Nigrescence theory (Cross, 1971) has played a major role in the conceptualization of African Americans' racial identity for the last three decades. Cross's original model has been used as the basis for a number of theoretical explications (Helms, 1990b; Parham, 1989) as well as empirical studies in the field (Cross, 1979; Hocoy, 1999; Parham & Helms, 1981, 1985a, 1985b; Hummer, 1995; Thomas & Speight, 1999). In 1991, Cross revised the nigrescence theory. In this revision, perhaps the most compelling idea was the proposal of multiple identity clusters at each stage. The revised theory provided the impetus for the development of the Cross Racial Identity Scale (CRIS; Vandiver et al., 2000), which, in turn, has provided support for the existence of multiple nigrescence identities. In this article, we provide a brief update on the CRIS, discuss some of the theoretical and measurement issues that arose during its development, and make some suggestions for future research. (Reader's Note: The authors of this article are also three of the authors of the CRIS.)

the nigrescence model and the CRIS

At the end of Phase 4, described in this special issue of the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development (JMCD; see Vandiver, Fhagen-Smith, Cokley, Cross, & Worrell, 2001), six nigrescence identities were measured. In two subsequent phases, Phases 5 and 6, measurement of the six identity clusters was refined by using exploratory and confirmatory factor analytic procedures and examining convergent and divergent validity (see Vandiver, Cross, Worrell, & Fhagen-Smith, in press). The current version of the CRIS (Vandiver et al., 2000) is presented in the Appendix. The CRIS measures three Pre-Encounter identity clusters (Assimilation, Self-Hatred, & Miseducation), one Immersion-Emersion cluster (Anti-White), and two Internalization clusters (Multiculturalist Inclusive & Afrocentricity, a form of Black Nationalism). These six identity clusters represent only some of the possible nigrescence identities (see Table 1). Three clusters are not measured at this time: Intense Black Involvement, Biculturalist, and Multiculturalist Racial. Furthermore, the identity clusters listed under the expanded model in Table 1 are not intended to represent all possible nigrescence clusters. The discovery of other nigrescence identifies or the removal of some of the identities listed will be determined by ongoing empirical research into nigrescence.

                              TABLE 1
             Cross's Nigrescence Stages and Identities

Model                  Stage                        Identity

1971 original model    Pre-Encounter                Pro-White/Anti-Black
                       Encounter
                       Immersion-Emersion           Anti-White/Pro-Black
                       Internalization              Humanist
                       Internalization-Commitment

1991 revised model     Pre-Encounter                Assimilation
                                                    Anti-Black
                       Encounter
                       Immersion-Emersion           Anti-White
                                                    Intense Black
                                                     Involvement
                       Internalization              Black Nationalist
                                                    Biculturalist
                                                    Multiculturalist

2000 expanded model    Pre-Encounter                Assimilation(a)
                                                    Miseducation(a)
                                                    Self-Hatred(a)
                       Encounter
                       Immersion-Emersion           Anti-White(a)
                                                    Intense Black
                                                     Involvement
                       Internalization              Black Nationalist(a)
                                                    Biculturalist
                                                    Multiculturalist
                                                     Racial
                                                    Multiculturalist
                                                     Inclusive(a)

(a) Subscale included in the Cross Racial Identity Scale. … 
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