Date of Award

Fall 1-5-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Laura May, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Gary Bingham, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Gholnecsar Muhammad, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Caitlin Dooley, Ph.D.


All parents, whether they are aware of it or not, engage in racial socialization. For African American parents in the United States (U.S.), however, a degree of urgency exists that exceeds what is typical for European American parents (Neblett, Smalls, Ford, Nguyen, & Sellers, 2009; Stevenson & Arrington, 2009). The purpose of this qualitative study was to learn directly from middle-class African American families about how they engaged double consciousness (Du Bois, 1903/1994) as they racially socialized their 3 and 4-year-old sons. Specifically, I wanted to learn about the discourses influenced by intersections of class, race, and gender that they used to educate their sons about 1) how they may be viewed in a racist society, and 2) to ensure positive development. The study is framed by critical race theory (Bell, 2007; Delgado & Stefancic, 2012; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995), intersectionality (Cooper 1892/1988; Crenshaw, 1995), and community cultural wealth (Yosso, 2005; Yosso & Garcíá, 2007). I collected multiple forms of data from five families over twelve weeks. The study was designed using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). In particular, an integrated design using Fairclough’s (2013) explanatory critique and thematic analysis in order to best identify how middle-class African American parents racially socialize their young sons. Two questions guided this research study: a) what factors (e.g., stereotypes, ideologies, values, beliefs, age, gender, socioeconomic status, etc.) influence how middle-class African American parents racially socialize their sons; and b) what genres do middle-class African American parents use to racially socialize their 3 and 4-year-old sons? I found that factors that influenced how parents racially socialized their sons are discriminatory stereotypes grounded in United States history; institutional and structural racism; the age of their child; the gender of their child, and the parent gender; the social class status of the parent during their upbringing; the current family social class status; and cultural resources that the family could access. The language-based and non-language-based genres that the parents used to racially socialize their sons were books, toys, artwork, and conversations. Scholarly and practical implications and recommendations for future research are provided.