Uncovering the core self: Listening to black adults in Canada who attended predominately white schools, by Glory Mulera
Department: Master of Arts Counselling Psychology
Co-Supervisor: Marvin McDonald, PhD (CPSY)
Co-Supervisor: Funké Aladejebi, PhD (University of Toronto)
External Examiner: Tapo Chimbganda, PhD (Future Black Female)
Exam Chair: Roderic F. Casali, PhD (MLIN)
Abstract: A person’s perception of their experiences impacts how they perceive themselves. These perceptions shape how they behave, think, and act, as well as the value that they place on their core self (Chimbganda, 2017; Massaquoi, 2004; Spencer, Dupree, & Hartmann, 1997). In this study, I explored how Black adults who attended predominantly white schools in Canada perceive themselves at the core of their identity. The Phenomenological Variant of Ecological Systems Theory (Spencer, 2018) and The Listening Guide (Gilligan, 2015) were chosen to support the design of my study. The struggles with racism in Canada show up in both physical and mental health challenges for all genders and all ethnic groups (Canadian Psychological Association, 2020). By attending to participants’ voices (N = 3), deep insight into the complexity of identity and self-perception among Black adults in Canada emerged. Patterns of tensions among participants’ multiple voices revealed disconnections between the way stories were told and the way circumstances were experienced. Psychological distress appeared as participants shared that in predominantly white settings their perception of themselves and others pressured them to selectively reveal or conceal features of their identities to negotiate comfort levels for themselves and for others. Forms of resilience and resourcefulness also surfaced, showing the participants’ ways of coping with the oppressive dynamics of predominantly white schools in this country. I invite both white and BIPOC clinicians to pay close attention to the subtleties of the internalized voices of the oppressor so that they can further develop their understanding of their Black clients.