The experiences of immigrant women of color withinUShigher education provide a unique opportunity to understand the complex influences of intersecting identities within the context of changing social contexts. To determine how the social categories of gender, class, race, and nationality operate in Caribbean immigrant women’s experience of being college students, focus groups were conducted with 27 English-speaking Caribbean-born women attending NYC undergraduate colleges. Data show when women move to the US they come from gendered cultural traditions that determined their social roles in the Caribbean. For most women, these rules continue to operate in the US. However, gender roles and traditions are not homogenous throughout the Caribbean, hence, there is variation in how they play out in women’s experiences in the US. Further, the formerly distinct boundaries between some Caribbean traditions and US traditions are being challenged. These findings underline the complex influence of intersecting identities in women’s roles and call attention to how they affect social identification in the context of college pursuits and other aspects of their lives. In light of increased cross-cultural contact and globalization these findings provide a better understanding of factors affecting the psychological adjustment of Caribbean immigrant women in the US and have implications for enhancing their adaptation across changing social contexts.
Capdevila, R. & Lazard, L. (2015) Psychology of women: Questions of politics and practice. In I. Parker (Ed). Handbook of Critical Psychology. London: Routledge.
Clarke, V. and Braun, V. (2008) Gender. In: D. Fox, I. Prilleltensky, & S. Austin (Eds.). Critical Psychology: An Introduction. (2nd ed., pp 232-249). London: Sage.
Clarke, V. & Braun, V. (2014) Thematic analysis. In T. Teo (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology (pp. 1947-1952). New York: Springer.
Cole, J. (1998). Commonalties and differences. In M. Anderson & P. H. Collins (Eds.), Race, Class and Gender, (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Collins, P. (2000). Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment, (2nd. ed). New York: Routledge.
Crespo, E. (1994). Puerto Rican women: Migration and changes in gender roles. In R. Benmayor & A. Skotnes (Eds.). Migration and Identity. New York: Oxford University Press.
Cross, W. Jr. (1991). Shades of Black: Diversity in African-American Identity. Philadelphia: Temple University.
Denzin, N. & Lincoln, Y. (1998). Introduction: Entering the field of qualitative research. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.). Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials (pp. 1-34). London: Sage.
Ethier, K. A., & Deaux, K. (1994). Negotiating social identity when contexts change: Maintaining identification and responding to threat. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 242–251.
Gittell, M. & Steffy, T. (January, 2000). Community Colleges Addressing Students’ Needs: A Case Study of La Guardia Community College. New York: The Howard Samuels State Management and Policy Center, The Graduate School and University Center, CUNY.
Gittell, M. & Steffy, T. (October, 1998). The Benefits of College Attendance: A Case Study of BMCC. New York: The Howard Samuels State Management and Policy Center, The Graduate School and University Center, CUNY.
Hart, K. (1989). The sexual division of labour. In K. Hart (Ed.), Women and the Sexual Division of Labour in the Caribbean. Kingston, JA: Canoe Press.
Hedge, R. (1998). Swinging the trapeze: The negotiation of identity among Asian Indian immigrant women in the United States. In D. Tanno & A. Gonzalez (Eds.), Communication and Identity Across Race. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Hurtado, A. (1999). Cross-border existence: One woman’s migration story. In Romero, M. & Stewart, A. (Eds.), Women’s Untold Stories: Breaking Silence, Talking Back, Voicing Complexity. New York: Routledge.
Jones, J. (1988). Racism in black and white: A bicultural model of reaction and evolution. In P. Katz & D. Taylor (Eds.), Eliminating racism: Profiles in Controversy. New York: Plenum Press. doi:10.1007/978-1-4899-0818-6_6
La Fromboise, T., Coleman, H. & Gerton, J. (1993). Psychological impact of biculturalism: Evidence and theory. Psychological Bulletin, 114 (3), 395-412. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.114.3.395
Leo-Rhynie, E. (2003). Gender and power in contemporary society: A case study of student government. In E. Barriteau (Ed.), Confronting Power, Theorizing Gender: Interdisciplinary Perspectives in the Caribbean (pp. 283-297). Jamaica: UWI Press.
McAfee, M. (2000). From their voices: American Indians in higher education and the phenomenon of stepping out. Research News on Graduate Education, 2(2), 1-10.
McFarlane, T. (2000). (Dis)Regarding race. In L. Weis and M. Fine (Eds.). Speedbumps: A Student-Friendly Guide to Qualitative Research. New York: Teachers College Press.
McFarlane, T.A. (Dec. 2010). Experiencing difference, seeking community: Racial, panethnic and national identities among female Caribbean-born US college students. American Review of Political Economy: Special Issue on Caribbean Migration, 8 (2), 87-114.
Padilla, A. (1994). Bicultural development: a theoretical and empirical examination. In R. Malgady & O. Rodriguez (Eds.), Theoretical and Conceptual Issues in Hispanic Mental Health. Malabar, FL: Kriegler Publishing Co.
Pessar, P. (1999). Engendering migration studies: The case of new immigrants in the United States. American Behavioral Scientist, 42 (4), 577-600. doi:10.1177/00027649921954372
Ramkissoon, M., McFarlane, T.A. & Branche, C. (2008). Do race and ethnicity matter in Jamaica? Category labels versus personal self-descriptions of identity. Journal of Caribbean Psychology, 2 (2), 78-97.
Romero, M. & Stewart, A. (1999). Introduction. In M. Romero & A. Stewart (Eds.), Women’s Untold Stories: Breaking Silence, Talking Back, Voicing Complexity. New York: Routledge. doi:10.1007/bf02895957
Tajfel, H. (1981). Human Groups and Social Categories: Studies in Social Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Trotz, A. (2002). Gender, ethnicity and familial ideology in Georgetown, Guyana: Household structure and female labour force participation reconsidered. In P. Mohammed (Ed.), Gendered Realities: Essays in Caribbean Feminist Thought (pp. 249-276). Barbados: UWI Press.
Waters, M. (1996). Ethnic and racial identities of second-generation Black immigrants in New York City. In A. Portez (ed.), The New Second Generation. New York: Russel Sage.
Wilkenson, S. (June, 1999). Focus groups: a feminist method. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 23 (2), 221-244.
Worrell, F. & McFarlane, T. A. (2017). Measuring Nigrescence Beyond the US: Black Racial Identity Attitudes in Jamaica. Identity, 17 (4), 224-238. doi:10.1080/15283488.2017.1379904