In the United States, where race is a powerful factor for social stratification (Appiah & Gutmann, 1998; Glick-Schiller & Fouron, 1990a; Omni & Winant, 1986), foreign-born Blacks find themselves battling the demoralizing impacts of discrimination, racism, and xenophobia on a daily basis. In the school context, racist assumptions have been shown to predispose teachers to have lower expectations of immigrant students and other students of color, to view them more often as behavioral problems, and to assume that their parents do not value education (Doucet, 2008, 2011b; Suárez-Orozco, Suárez-Orozco, & Todorova, 2008). At the same time, the powerful influence of race results in Black immigrants becoming “invisible,” in the sense that their individual nationalities, ethnic affiliations, and cultural traditions often are unrecognized or unknown. It is especially important for the well-being of children facing these challenges that their distinct experiences, resources, and vulnerabilities be addressed in the experiences and opportunities made available to them in school. This article focuses on the experiences of Haitian immigrant youth in U.S. schools, specifically addressing the various factors that shape identity formation within this group. The article draws from a study I conducted in Greater Boston with 1.5-generation (Haiti-born) and second-generation (U.S.-born) Haitian youth and their families between 2000 and 2002 (Doucet, 2011a, 2011b, 2011c; Doucet & Suárez-Orozco, 2006). A qualitative investigation, the Boston study was a longitudinal ethnography using participant observation and multiple-structured interviews with students and parents to understand the adaptation of 1.5- and second-generation youth to U.S. schools.


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