Double consciousness: the negotiation of the intersectionality of identities among academically successful Black women
Due to educational and professional obstacles, as well as the psychological tolls associated with racism and sexism, Black women may feel pressured to present a self to the world that is viewed as acceptable to others. Through identity negotiation, a conscious process of shifting one's worldview and/or cultural behaviors (Jackson, 2004), Black women may adopt multiple identities that appease both the White and Black community. The need to investigate the collective identities among Black women using a non-White ideology, such as Black feminist model, is critically needed. The purpose of this investigation was to understand the effect of the negotiation of race, class, and gender identities on Black women's self-perception, specifically as it relates to their participation in the workforce, and personal and professional relationships. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and the sample consisted of ten academically successful Black women. To be eligible to participate in this study, co-researchers must have met the following criteria: 1) self-identify as a Black/African American woman, 2) recently obtained bachelor's degree in the past 5 years, 3) currently working in a predominantly White environment, and 4) living in a majority Black urban area. Data from the interviews were classified through identified themes, and interpretative phenomenological analysis. Themes constructed from the data include: a) the complexity of the intersectionalities of race, gender, and class identities, b) negotiation of identities in predominantly White social and work environments, c) negotiation of identities in a predominantly Black environments, d) triggers for the negotiations of race, class, and gender identities, and e) conflicted anxieties towards negotiating identities. The results of this study may be utilized to develop intervention programs that promote positive self-worth, and the development of academic and personal success among Black women aspiring to enter the evolving workforce.