Conceptualizing Success: Aspirations of Four Young Black Guyanese Immigrant Women for Higher Education
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During the past four decades researchers note that educational institutions fail to “connect” with minority students (e.g. Clark, 1983; Coelho, 1998; Dei, 1994; Duffy, 2003; Ogbu, 1978, 1991). Carr and Klassen (1996) define this lack of “connection” primarily as teachers’ disregard for each student’s culture as it relates to race, and thus, his or her achievement potential. Hence, this disregard encourages minority students to question their ability to be successful. Dei (1994), furthermore, shows a tremendous disconnectedness from schools and education systems being felt by Black students. Few studies give voice to specific groups of Black female high school graduates who opt out of pursuing higher education. I interviewed four Black Guyanese immigrant women to: (a) investigate their reasons and expectations when immigrating to Canada, (b) identify what influenced their decision not to pursue postsecondary education, (c) explore their definitions of success, and (d) investigate how/if their notions of success relate to obtaining postsecondary education in Canada. Critical Race Theory (CRT) was employed in this study to: (a) provide a better understanding of the participants’ classroom dynamics governed by relationships with their teachers, guidance counsellors and school administrators, (b) examine educational outcomes governed by personal and educational relationships and experiences, and (c) provide conceptual tools in the investigation of colour-blindness (Parker & Roberts, 2005) that is disguised in Canadian education, immigration, and other government policies. To support my investigation, I used CRT to guide the research design, modes of documentation, and the process of analysis. It is hoped that my findings and analysis enriches the academy and society by communicating why there is a scarcity of Black Guyanese immigrant women in Canadian postsecondary institutions, making recommendations, to increase their participation in higher education. This study communicates the experiences of four Black Guyanese immigrant women in Canada. It does not intend to make generalizations about the experiences of all Black Guyanese immigrant women in Canada.