Understanding the Path of Resistance: How Stereotypes Shape the Racial Identities and Academic Pathways of Black Youth
Leoandra Rogers

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



New York University

Primary Discipline

Human Development
Nearly 60 years post the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education (1954), inequality still plagues our nation’s education system. Beyond the tangible barriers to equality, such as the distribution of resources and access to high-quality teachers and learning materials, there are intangible, social psychological considerations, such as racial stereotypes, which influence school achievement as well as youths’ identities. The research on such stereotype and identity processes focuses almost entirely on adolescents. This is surprising because the effects of social stereotypes are evidenced even earlier in childhood, and it is likely that stereotyping contributes to the achievement gap between Black and White students that emerges as early as preschool. Moreover, research generally examines how individuals conform to stereotypes; but, resistance – the psychological process whereby one challenges or contests cultural stereotypes – is a powerful and under-studied force of development. Recognizing that some children are highly successful in resisting negative racial stereotypes shifts the scientific enterprise to investigating how resistance processes might counteract the pernicious effects of cultural stereotypes.The objective of this postdoctoral project is to understand the origins of racial identity in childhood and, in particular, the ways that youth resist conforming to negative cultural stereotypes. This objective will be achieved through research undertaken with the mentorship of Dr. Andrew N. Meltzoff (Host Mentor) and support of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, a state-of-the-art research center at the University of Washington. In-depth interviews with Black and White elementary-aged children will provide a measure of how racial stereotypes shape racial identity and how the content and prevalence of resistance to stereotypes varies across developmental stages. This research will reduce the gap in our knowledge of the development of racial identity and how stereotype processes operate prior to adolescence. It will lay the groundwork for exploring implicit factors related to educational inequality and the design of successful intervention programs
About Leoandra Rogers
Dr. Leoandra Onnie Rogers earned a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University with Dr. Niobe Way. Dr. Rogers’ research focuses on identity development in the context of schooling and education. Her work examines how cultural norms, expectations, and stereotypes influence how youth see themselves in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender, and the ways that youth challenge, or resist, negative cultural messages about who and what they are or can be. Her dissertation, “Young, Black and Male: Exploring the Intersections of Racial and Gender Identity in an All-Black Male High School”, focused on how young Black males negotiate racial and gender stereotypes during high school. Currently, she is a Research Associate at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at University of Washington investigating children’s understandings of social expectations and stereotypes. Dr. Rogers completed her undergraduate studies in psychology and education at UCLA.

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