Stimulus/Response for

March 12, 2009



Halford H. Fairchild



Lecture by Nancy Boyd Franklin


Stimulus:  This film presented the Distinguished Psychologist Address by Nancy Boyd Franklin at the 1994 annual meeting of The Association of Black Psychologists.  In her introduction, Dr. Na’im Akbar noted that Dr. Boyd Franklin, a developmental psychologist and family therapist, had, in her own personal life, raised four children and maintained a well-functioning family (along with her husband, also a psychologist, Dr. A.J. Franklin.


NBF:  Acknowledged the work of Drs. John and Harriet McAdoo.  She suggested two themes for her talk:  (1) a need for clinical scholarship in family therapy utilizing African-centered approaches; and (2) The ABPsi is a professional extended family.


She noted that when she first went to graduate school, in 1972, most of the scholarship on Black families was negative, pejorative, and disparaging.  But “new voices” began to rewrite that scholarship (Joe White, the McAdoos, Wade Nobles, Na’im Akbar, AJ Franklin) which challenged the negative views.  Robert Staples and Robert Hill, in particular, produced books that examined the “strengths” of Black families.


The idea of “extended family networks” emerged from this new literature.


We need more clinical scholarship, that must give credence to “spirit” and “spirituality.”


“Multiculturalism” obscures and minimizes the racial struggles of our people.  No one else will write this literature, if we don’t do it.


We need to define “healthy responses” to racism.  Challenging and defying racist systems is healthy.


Violence towards each other may be an instance of “internalized racism” that needs to be channeled and re-focused.  


Family interventions need to “take the streets back” (from drug dealers).


The pain and anger brought on by more subtle forms of racism need to be cataloged.  This was easier when racism was more easily discerned.


People shouldn’t think that they are crazy because others deny the realities of racism.


“It is incumbent upon us, as African psychologists, to first heal ourselves.”


ABPsi as a professional extended family.  We are standing on the shoulders of giants who taught us to be “bodacious” in our work settings.  We cannot be isolated from others.  it is deadly to be isolated.”  


Responses:  Important emphases:  to be related to others (collective effort and responsibility), isolation as deadly, need to be change agents.  “If you want to make omelette, you have to crack some eggs.”



African American Dialects


Stimulus:  This piece by Fairchild and Edwards-Evans reviews work on the issue of ‘ebonics’ or AAVE or AAD.  AAD are legitimate and not deficient.  Prescriptions include:  encouraging teachers to accept where students are, linguistically; provide relevant curriculum; administrators to push for needed resources; changes in the popular culture regarding stereotypic images; provision of equal educational opportunities (& changes in public priorities)…


Teacher attitudes create SFPs.


Pedagogical Implications:  teachers should monitor their own attitudes and behaviors to linguistic minorities.  Teachers must presume academic success.


Responses:  I like the naming of the field.  [Vernacular is pejorative:  “common, native, ordinary, peculiar to a class”]


We admit that certain areas are “beyond our expertise” (dialects of the Carib and South America and elsewhere).


Understanding and comprehending language as proof of our intellectual genius.


Don’t reject students’ language:  “I ain’t got no money.”  Teachers should NOT correct dialectical speech.


Change curriculum content:  focus on world problems.


Linguistic diversity as an asset, vs. English only.  (What do you call someone who speaks 3 or more languages?....)


Fairchild cites himself a lot.


Linguistic Precocity of African Americans:  reflected in spoken word, rap and hip hop.



Today’s America Needs many Tongues


Important ideas:  subtractive bilingualism; immigrants as an untapped resource.  Spanish speakers should be cherished, not scorned.  Bilingualism as a cognitive asset.



Schools Slow in Closing Gap


Gaps worsen over 12 years, saying that schools are causal in producing those gaps.   Why?  How?


What is needed is a secular change, a sea change, in attitudes toward minorities, and in structured inequalities in opportunity, and in teaching styles (allowing for more call-and-response and interactivity), and in curriculum content.


Stereotype Threat


Kellow, J. Thomas, & Jones, Brett D.  (2008).  The effects of stereotypes on the achievement gap:  Reexamining the academic performance of African American high school students.  Journal of Black Psychology, 34(1), 94-120.


Stimulus.  Negative stereotypes abound for the academic achievement (real and potential) of African American students.  This is due, in part, to the publication of test results for SATs, GREs, LATs, etc, that receive media attention.  Focus on “Stereotype threat.”  Also, students self-perceptions and expectancies.  Focus on high school students

Achievement goal orientation, anxiety


Methodology:  Informed consent sought from 641 students, 118 (18.4% returned).  


Responses:  Focus on testing, and No Child Left Behind:  too much time spent on teaching to the test.


If stereotype threat explains, partially, achievement gaps, what percentage of variance is explained?


Does this not locate the source of achievement differentials in the students themselves?  Does this absolve institutions of providing equitable learning opportunities?


Similarly, self-perceptions and self-expectancies locates the issue in the person, not the system.


The ethics of manipulating anxiety…


Difficulties of K-12 research (parental permission, response rates)


Problems of final sample (n = 101)


Researchers were White males.  What effect might this have?


The making of a culture fair test:  Removing items that show class biases.  (The same thing has been done to remove gender biases).


The test was hard:  50 possible items, 27.8 attempted, on average, with 60.1% correct on attempted items.  [another thing measured, here, is speed of answering the questions…or reading ability]


Results:  The competent student must know statistics in order to understand research findings.


Findings contradicted theory:  (1) The APR test – Blacks were flat in evaluative and non-evaluative conditions; Whites were affected by the IV (lower scores in the non-evaluative condition – see Figure 2, p. 107).  (2)  prediction that African American students in the evaluative condition would report lower self-perceptions of ability and expectations for success than White students – findings in the opposite direction.  Figure 4 (p. 110) was in predicted direction.


Hypothesis 7 failed:  (manipulation check).  See p. 111


Why contrary findings?  A methodological artifact of small sample size?  N = 26 is sacrosanct.