In this study, I explore the educational experiences of Black African immigrant youth living in Maine, and how this experience shapes students’ identities, educational ambitions, and potential upward mobility in their new world. While focusing on the factors hindering immigrant Black youth’s education, I also examine how ethnic identity plays a key role in the educational success and well-being of African youth today. I hypothesize that the manner in which one defines oneself is a central issue in one’s educational success in one’s new environment.

While the objective of this research is insight into the issues faced by current immigrants in the Portland Public Schools, neighborhoods, communities, and society in general, I also examine and draw conclusions about the contemporary institutions and social relations that impact this young generation’s future. In addition, all stakeholders (schools, community, parents, etc.) are inseparable parts of youth’s educational and identity development. They provide an important perspective on the challenges posed by their new home community.

Using a qualitative research approach, I documented the experiences and the factors influencing the education achievement and the well-being of young African immigrants in Portland, Maine. I used the qualitative method of documentation, using interview, archival records, and observational protocols. I then coordinated the narratives of these youth and associated stakeholders with interviews, observations, and other interactions. The ultimate goal of this work has been to provide a space for conversations among the members of the community (families, leaders, and youth), schools, and service providers. These conversations reflect the current experiences and needs of youth who recently—from 1990 on—immigrated to Portland in order to enhance their success and well-being.


Ethnic Studies | Race and Ethnicity | Regional Sociology