Dr. William Cross’ co-authored book, “Meaning-making, Internalized Racism and African American Identity”, was recently re-released in paperback as part of the State University of New York (SUNY) Press series in African American Studies. One of America’s leading theorists and researchers on black identity development in particular, and racial-ethnic identity development in general, Cross has been in the field since 1963.

“Research on black identity has typically centered on personalogical variables such as self-esteem, anxiety, etc.,” he said. “The new text explores the value of shifting the discourse to more philosophical and meaning-making outcome variables.”

His co-author, Jas M. Sullivan, a political scientist at LSU, studies race, identity and political behavior. The collaboration allows the research to incorporate different views on black identity for a well-rounded view on social identity.

On page 332 of the conclusion section, Sullivan and Cross make the following point.

“ . . . identity, especially racial-ethnic identity, represent a search for meaning and purpose and while many – perhaps the majority – of black people incorporate elements of race and ethnicity into the construction of their social identity (sense of blackness), such a tendency, while ubiquitous, is not prescriptive – not a requirement.  The studies in this volume expand our understanding of the range of social identities black people adopt in their search for meaning, purpose a personal well-being.”

Cross holds a joint appointment at Morgridge College of Education in Counseling Psychology and Higher Education.

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