Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

"We Really Protested": The Influence of Sociopolitical Beliefs, Political Self-Efficacy, and Campus Racial Climate on Civic Engagement among Black College Students Attending Predominantly White Institutions

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

"We Really Protested": The Influence of Sociopolitical Beliefs, Political Self-Efficacy, and Campus Racial Climate on Civic Engagement among Black College Students Attending Predominantly White Institutions

Article excerpt

In recent years, there has been a resurge of protest and social action among Black students attending selective predominantly White institutions (PWIs) in response to their interpersonal and institutional experiences of racism and inequality on campus. Social media-based activism and other forms of civic engagement demonstrate that Black students are invested in challenging campus culture and pushing for a more racially diverse and inclusive environment. Student-led resistance across college campuses nationwide suggest commonalities in the types of race-based experiences that Black students encounter while in predominantly White institutional settings. Consistent with findings from previous literature (Hope & Jagers, 2014), civic engagement participation through acts such as protests and social media campaigns may relate to how African American students understand their social and political points of view within the university context.

The concept of civic engagement within higher education settings has been examined in a few bodies of parallel research that focus on topics such as racial consciousness (Hope & Durkee, 2016), political activity (Flanagan & Levine, 2010; Galston, 2007), and student protest (Rodriguez, 2012). This work suggests that engagement in one's surrounding communities is important for personal growth and identity formation during the transition to adulthood (Duke et al., 2008). In particular, research on racial consciousness and social protest among Black emerging adults indicates that developing an awareness of social inequality may inspire civic activism and protest among this population of students (Brandon, 2015; Hope & Durkee, 2016). However, these studies were not designed to explore the interface between African American students' initial worldviews and beliefs about social equality and fairness upon entering college, and the extent to which experiences of racial stigmatization in the college context alter these beliefs and students' ensuing behavior. It is possible that Black students' sociopolitical worldviews may shift in relation to their surrounding university context, especially in reaction to institutional policies and practices that marginalize or exclude them from academic and social integration on campus.

In the current study, the authors take up these questions through an investigation of whether Black students' worldviews and beliefs regarding the nature of inequality and racism, as well as their feelings of personal agency for change uniquely predict civic engagement participation during the first year of college. They also examine how Black students' experience of campus racial climate within a predominantly White university context during this first year influences their beliefs and civic involvement. While historical literature highlights Black college students' important roles in campus activism (Bradley, 2008; Rogers, 2008; Williamson, 1999), relatively little recent scholarship examines Black students' social action in contemporary academic and social contexts in college concerning their beliefs about racial inequality and discrimination.

Civic Engagement and Black College Students

Civic engagement, or in the present study, "behaviors and actions that individuals take to improve the lives of others and influence the futures of their communities," (Adler, 2005, p. 242) has been related to a range of positive outcomes for college students, including increased self-esteem and a stronger sense of community belonging (Flanagan & Bundick, 2011). Experiences in university spaces that support the development of civic engagement may help young adults transition to adulthood with a sense of shared responsibility and obligation to others in their local, national, and international communities (Snell, 2010). Research on civic engagement tends to focus on political involvement, or intentional actions that are related to the effects of systems on individuals and communities such as voting in local and national elections (Moore et al. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.