Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School Psychology


The life circumstances facing African American adolescent males are reported with a fair amount of frequency by numerous media outlets in our society. Reports generally communicate negative circumstances facing African American adolescent males in the educational, economic, social, and political arenas. These sorts of life experiences have the potential to have a tremendous impact on the lives and development, particularly identity developmental process of young African American men; however, few research efforts have been devoted to specifically exploring the identity development process of African American adolescent males. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the meaning of being a young African American man and to explore how the types of experiences and socialization messages contribute to the perception of being a young African American man. A series of focus groups were conducted with African American adolescent males aged 14-18 (N=17). Participants were asked questions about what comes to mind when they think about African American young men, when was the first time that they realized that they were African American, and what do others think about African Americans. Several themes emerged from this investigation including, lives consistently filled with struggle, an appreciation for the history of struggle and sacrifice by African Americans, early encounter experiences that made participants aware of their Blackness, and negative stereotypes and perceptions of young African American men. Suggestions for future research and clinical implications

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.