Adeyemo, Breigha Michelle (2018-12). What's in a Construct? Perceptions of African Americans in Houston's Nigerian Central. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • Black identity is often homogenized in the United States, thereby leaving its subgroups often ignored and disenfranchised. This study explores the relationship between Yoruba Nigerians and African Americans in the southwest area of Houston, Texas, intentionally focusing on two subgroups within black identity and on specifically located national identities. This study approaches the field of black studies through a performance studies lens, drawing upon John Austin's theory of performative utterances. The present study addresses the following research questions: What are Yoruba Nigerian constructs of African American identity? What are the factors that (re)shape these constructs? What is the significance of these constructs in the lives of Yoruba Nigerians in America? The study data consists of interviews with 10 Yoruba Nigerians who currently live in the Southwest Houston area. The interviews revealed that Yoruba Nigerian perceptions of African Americans are largely categorized by stereotypes, such as disrespectful, criminal, uneducated, lack of own mindset, and irrational. This study also discusses, based on the interviews, four main factors which contribute to the formation of such stereotypes: media representation, personal encounters, hearsay, and perception of opportunity in America. The study then explores the significance of Yoruba Nigerian stereotypes of African Americans for Yoruba Nigerians' economic gains in the United States. This study found a paradox between the Yoruba Nigerians' perceptions of African Americans and their awareness of being primed to hold such stereotypes. The study concludes with a discussion of Yoruba Nigerians' possible desire for cultural and identity preservation in order to explain such paradox.
  • Black identity is often homogenized in the United States, thereby leaving its subgroups often ignored and disenfranchised. This study explores the relationship between Yoruba Nigerians and African Americans in the southwest area of Houston, Texas, intentionally focusing on two subgroups within black identity and on specifically located national identities. This study approaches the field of black studies through a performance studies lens, drawing upon John Austin's theory of performative utterances. The present study addresses the following research questions: What are Yoruba Nigerian constructs of African American identity? What are the factors that (re)shape these constructs? What is the significance of these constructs in the lives of Yoruba Nigerians in America?
    The study data consists of interviews with 10 Yoruba Nigerians who currently live in the Southwest Houston area. The interviews revealed that Yoruba Nigerian perceptions of African Americans are largely categorized by stereotypes, such as disrespectful, criminal, uneducated, lack of own mindset, and irrational. This study also discusses, based on the interviews, four main factors which contribute to the formation of such stereotypes: media representation, personal encounters, hearsay, and perception of opportunity in America. The study then explores the significance of Yoruba Nigerian stereotypes of African Americans for Yoruba Nigerians' economic gains in the United States. This study found a paradox between the Yoruba Nigerians' perceptions of African Americans and their awareness of being primed to hold such stereotypes. The study concludes with a discussion of Yoruba Nigerians' possible desire for cultural and identity preservation in order to explain such paradox.

publication date

  • December 2018