Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Sociology

Major Professor

Elizabeth M. Aranda

Keywords

ethnic affirmation, ethnic identity development, ethnicity, ethnic organizations, significant events

Abstract

Drawing upon 20 in-depth interviews with second generation Haitian young adults, I examined the ethnic identities and the involvement in ethnic organizations of the respondents. This study pays particular attention to how involvement in ethnic organizations influenced how the second generation Haitians believed the earthquake affected their identities and how they ultimately responded to the earthquake. Several of the findings revealed differences in how and why the respondents chose to ethnically identify such as Haitian, Haitian-American, black Haitian. The respondents' choice to join an ethnic organization was driven by different desires but the perceived influence of the organization on their ethnic identities resulted in an increase in cultural knowledge as well as an ability to stay rooted in the culture. However, the lack of participation on the part of some of the respondents was a choice dictated by conflicts of authenticity, time, and responsibilities. The comparison between involved and non-involved respondents in terms of their response to the earthquake revealed that involved respondents were more active in volunteer projects. Involvement in ethnic organizations influenced how the second generation Haitians perceived the earthquake affected their identities, and ethnic affirmation in terms of a desire to visit Haiti was expressed by involved respondents. The implications of this study revealed the importance of establishing ethnic organizations in middle and high schools in order to foster a sense of pride through knowledge at an earlier age.

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