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Identities in the making: A multistoried mosaic exploring four Black students' experiences of attending a predominantly White high school

Joyce A Lehn, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


In this study, four biracial students, who self-identify as being Black, use narrative inquiry to explore their experiences of attending a predominantly White high school. It is the personalized stories that often bring injustices to the forefront; thus, the researcher draws on narrative inquiry as a means for participants to negotiate and articulate the stories they live by, in and out of school. The participants' multistoried lives intertwine to create a narrative mosaic with participant's narratives laid alongside each other forming patterns of complexities that connect across one another throughout the progression of this study. These patterns and connections occur within the living, telling, reliving, and retelling of the four participants' stories. While highlighting the roles that cultural, economic, and social capital play in how the participants view academic achievement and how that might influence the underlying issues associated with the racial achievement gap, this study reveals the inadequacies of continuing to define achievement so narrowly and without attention to the uniqueness of individuals. The narrative inquiry further reveals the importance of reframing education for learning growth. Characterizing achievement as growth and change assumes accepting students for who they are and working with what is given as the place to start learning. The fixation with education as a way for students to prepare for the future sells participating students in this study short. Rather, this study suggests that the present cannot be ignored. The narratives of participants clearly indicate that when we ignore the present we eliminate potential before there is an opportunity for it to grow. Narrative inquiry provides a lens for educators to see with potential, become agents of change, and seek ways for empowering marginalized students. This may be a way to close the racial achievement gap, growing stronger learner identities in the making.^

Subject Area

Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Black Studies|Education, Secondary|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

Recommended Citation

Lehn, Joyce A, "Identities in the making: A multistoried mosaic exploring four Black students' experiences of attending a predominantly White high school" (2009). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3365713.