Theses Doctoral

"It Depends on Where You Go!" The Transnational Racial Consciousness of Dominican Immigrants

Bratini, Lucinda

This study aimed to explore transnational racial consciousness among immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Racial consciousness is the process whereby the people develop awareness and understanding of social oppression (Freire, 1971; Quintana and Segura-Herrera, 2003, p. 274). Fifteen self-identified Dominican immigrants participated in semi-structured interviews, focused on their understandings of skin-color, racialization, racism, and group membership. A grounded theory design framed from a constructivist and critical social justice approach guided the analysis of the data. The theoretical framework that emerged from the analysis of the data suggests a core narrative of “negotiating contradicting cultural scripts” about race and racialization and “contradicting notions of self” from a racialized perspective. Participants shared experiences with racialization, colorism, and racism both in the Dominican Republic and in the United States, which heightened their awareness of issues of racial oppression. Additionally, they described a cultural socialization that emphasized deracialized cultural notions that avoid explicit reference to race-specific material. Contradicting messages existed at institutional, cultural, and interpersonal levels. Participants identified racial encounters in the context of social/interpersonal interactions. They elaborated on the meanings they have constructed in attempts to understand their varying and conflicting experiences with racialization. They also expressed complex emotional reactions triggered by experiences with discrimination and racism. Encounters with racism resulted in changes or shifts in consciousness for some participants. The importance of negotiating the contradictions that emerged in racialized interactions across social context implies that transnational racial consciousness is both interpersonal and intrapsychic for these participants. Suggestions for further research include continuing to examine the experiences of those who may be categorized as both Latino/a, as a result of language and culture, as well as Black, due to skin-color and descent. Implications for practice and training include a need for increased attention to the multiple locales and contexts in which immigrants are embedded. The transnational bonds, connections, and ties to systems of oppression that immigrants maintain need be explore in terms of the psychological processes these produce. Finally, expanding the role of psychologists and other mental health professionals, to more active agents of social justice at the local and transnational levels is also suggested.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Miville, Marie
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 8, 2012