Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

John Ungerleider


This research aims to answer how educators can incorporate ethnic/racial identity development in the classroom for youth of color who are driven to pursue Whiteness. This quest begins by understanding Whiteness and its role within ethnic/racial identity and educational systems. The societal avoidance of discussing race furthers the perpetuation of Whiteness as the norm and removes the value of marginalized histories and voices. We can witness the preservation of Whiteness through immigration laws, the void of ethnic/racial identity exploration in schools, and the mono-cultured representation in classrooms. Therefore, this research explores assimilation and the racialization of immigrants through a macro-, micro-, and meso-level analysis.

This qualitative research incorporates interviews from five educators in an attempt to capture their experiences with assimilation, their insights for classroom environment, and their reflections on the ethnic/racial identity journey of youth. Findings from these educators are categorized into three themes: 1- Assimilation, Shame, and Validation, 2- Exploration & Inclusion of Ethnic/Racial Identity, 3- Educators’ Identities and Reflections. This research emphasizes that positive ethnic/racial identity is not grounded in the belittlement of others or superiority of oneself, but the celebration of all. Implication for future professional practice is intentional ethnic/racial identity exploration in adults and youth to further empowerment and empathy.

Keywords: assimilation, ethnic identity, racial identity, education, youth


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Immigration Law | Other Education | Other Teacher Education and Professional Development | Race and Ethnicity


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