"American Dreams and Realities: The Racial Identity Formation and Transmission Processes of First-Gen Nigerian Immigrant Parents"

African immigrants, included in the U.S. census within the Black population, are projected to constitute about one-third of the Black population by 2060 according to a study by the Pew Research Center (2022) The Black immigrant population has tripled since 1980, contributing nearly 25% to the overall growth of the U.S. Black population from 2001 to 2006 (Kent 2007). Despite this growth, research on their integration is limited, particularly concerning racial identity development, socialization practices, and their potential impacts on future race-based policies. This study, based on 28 qualitative interviews with Nigerian immigrants in New York and New Jersey, explores their perspectives on race and racism. It highlights their racial identity development and the ethnic-racial socialization practices they use to transmit racial knowledge to their children. Despite awareness of U.S. racism, participants often avoid discussing it with their children, emphasizing hard work or ethnic identity instead. Treitler (2013) notes how immigrant groups navigate the U.S. racial hierarchy by aligning with higher-ranking groups, which first- generation Nigerian immigrants often do by emphasizing ethnic and national identities rather than their racial identities. Nigeria’s colonial history and the cultural values of these participants significantly influence their approach, aligning with the American Dream over abolitionist approaches. This choice reflects a complex interplay of colonialism, social mobility aspirations, cultural alignment on their strategic decision-making in their socialization practices.

This project is supported by:

"(Re)constructing Race and Racism: Analyzing the Racial Identity Formation of Nigerian Immigrant Families in NY and NJ"

This study delves into the experiences and racial identity development of Nigerian immigrant parents in the United States. It investigates how these parents make sense of race, educate their children about race, and respond to racial discrimination and marginalization. Additionally, the research explores factors influencing their acceptance or rejection of American cultural norms. Through in-depth interviews with 30 Nigerian immigrant parents in New York and New Jersey, residing in the U.S. for over a decade, the study analyzes their narratives to uncover the impact of race, culture, and social institutions (e.g., workplaces, schools) on their experiences with and perceptions of race in the United States.


The research makes a substantial contribution to the fields of race and ethnicity, cultural sociology, and organizational studies by addressing a significant gap in the literature. It enhances our understanding of how the engagements of African immigrants within diverse social contexts influence their racialization and racial identities in the United States. The results offer valuable perspectives into the identities and encounters of African immigrants, contributing to a more nuanced understanding of the complex dynamics involved in the formation of racial identity within the immigration context and challenging prevailing stereotypes within the African Diaspora.