Abstract: "the Belief to Aspire": The Association between Afrocentric Values in the Educational and Career Aspirations of Young Black Males (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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"the Belief to Aspire": The Association between Afrocentric Values in the Educational and Career Aspirations of Young Black Males

Friday, January 13, 2023
Alhambra, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Husain Lateef, PhD, Assistant Professor, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Background. Since the beginning of the first national progress reports on educational achievement during the 1970s, there has been persistent concern for the achievement and future aspirations of young Black males (YBMs). In the process of procuring a positive self-concept which is critical to later life aspirations, YBMs often face a myriad of institutional and environmental risk factors stemming from the ramifications of structural racism. Consequentially, YBMs often fight to define their own future beyond a dominant societal ideology which limits Black male success to careers in professional sports and entertainment.

Purpose: Drawing from Afrocentric Youth Developmental Frameworks, this study examines how Afrocentric defined values of collectivism, religiosity, and African identity are associated with the career aspirations of YBMs. In doing so, the present study is among the first to empirically evaluate the relationship between an Afrocentric identity and aspirations in young Black males.

Methods. Upon approval by a university institutional review board, data for the study was drawn from Qualtrics Panel to obtain a sample of self-identifying Black males between the ages of 17-25(n=300). Most participants identified ethnically as African American (95%). Participants reported their sense of collectivism (6 items, α = .84), religiosity (9 items, α = .81), and African heritage identity (6 items, α = .77). Finding no violations of assumptions, multiple regression was used to assess the association between collectivism, religiosity, and African identity with career aspirations (5 items, α = .85) after controlling for age, household income, and reported education level.

Results: Findings suggest a positive association between YBMs career aspirations and Afrocentric values accounting for 41% of variance in career and educational aspirations in Black males. Specifically, participants’ sense of value of collectivism over individualism (B=.45), adherence to religious attendance/participation, prayer, and their belief in God as a causal agent to their lives (B=.27), and positive overall sense of feelings of connection to their African heritage (B=.22), was associated with participants’ desire to make a lasting impact through their future careers and to achieve higher levels of education in their career choices.

Implications: Findings support previous theoretical literature that Afrocentrism and its related factors are important indicators of positive development for YBMs. More specifically, the bolstering of Afrocentric values and connections to programs that promote Afrocentrism may provide important protective mechanisms for YBMs coming of age in socially inequitable environments. Findings also support the need for future research within social work to test findings with larger samples and continue to advance research that honors the cultural connections of Black communities while advancing social work’s mission to honor diversity and culture to inform practice.