Abstract: Resilience and Education Among African Americans (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

Resilience and Education Among African Americans

Friday, January 17, 2020
Congress, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Ebony McCovery, MSW, PhD Student, Howard University, Washington, DC
It is widely accepted that positive performance in school is the pathway to success for African American youth.  Children who can overcome educational race-based obstacles experience a higher quality of life.  This ability to overcome adversity whether in the home or community is referred to as resilience. This paper focuses on how resilience contributes to positive educational outcomes.  Additionally, the paper examines if changes in structural inequalities that demand resilience are addressed in the literature.


This symposium addresses resilience in the African American community through a systematic review of literature.  The review plan included articles published in the social work literature between 2000-2019 (two decades).  The articles that were reviewed were identified by a database search based upon two terms: African Americans and Resilience.  The articles that emerged used both qualitative and quantitative research methods.  The review question was “what recommendations were made for practice (micro and macro levels) based upon the research?”  The author conducted an evaluative annotated bibliography on articles that focused specifically on African American Youth and education.  


Articles on education were most prevalent in examining African Americans and resilience.  Both qualitative and quantitative studies were included in the systematic review.  The reviewed articles largely focused on promoting educational resilience within the context of perceived discriminations.  How to address culturally embedded stressors emerged as an important consideration in student success.  The practice focus was largely on how to support children so that they could become more risk-adversant. While there was some attention given to policies and practices that created the disparate outcomes, greater attention was given to building a resilient child.


Successful educational outcomes are important for African American children/youth.  There is a plethora of evidence that education is connected to improved well-being.  In addition to focusing on making children more resilient, a macro focus is also needed to protect children from the exposure to disparate and harmful treatment.  While the review clearly documented that the white-black achievement gap is related to accumulated risks for African American children, there was a dearth of attention to confronting racism upstream.