Dialika Sall is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at Columbia University. She is a Paul F. Lazarsfeld fellow and a National Science Foundation fellow. Her research interests include immigration, race and ethnicity, urban sociology, education and qualitative methods. She is currently studying integration experiences and identity negotiations among the children of West African immigrants in New York City.
Dissertation Title: Working Towards Blackness: Race, Ethnicity and the Children of African Immigrants
The past four decades have witnessed an almost 400% increase in the number of African immigrants living in the U.S. — three-fourths of whom arrived after 1990. If this rate persists, Africans are poised to outnumber Afro-Caribbeans and become the largest Black immigrant group in the country. Yet scholars know little about the processes by which these newcomers and their children are incorporating into American society. Dialika’s dissertation investigates how the teenaged children of West African immigrants are becoming first generation African-Americans and the individual and group-level ethnoracial identity-work central to these processes. The study draws on ethnographic observations and 130 in-depth interviews with West African students, their teachers and their Black American, West Indian and Hispanic counterparts across three high schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. It explores the ways in which schools, families and neighborhoods shape the racial and ethnic identity negotiations of Black immigrant youth. Her dissertation deepens understandings of the processes by which this new and important group incorporate into American society. In doing so, the project advances a more relational understanding of the pathways that the children of immigrants integrate into our society. Lastly, by examining how Blackness is constituted via the relations between Black immigrants and other ethnoracial groups, this research pushes forth a concept of Blackness that challenges the rigid Black/White racial dichotomy in the U.S. Taken together, this research will advance scholarly knowledge in the fields of immigration, race, and education.