Date of Award

January 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services

First Advisor

Rachel Navarro


The number of Somali refugees in the United States continue s to increase, yet research on their racial identity development, racialization experiences, and strategies used to cope with racism and discrimination is lacking. This qualitative study was conducted to explore the unique racial narratives of Somali refugees. In order to better understand how Somalis make meaning of their racial identity and adjust to the contemporary racial climate of the Midwest, in-depth interviews were conducted with seven Somali refugees and a narrative methodology was used to analyze the results. The overarching narrative highlighted the journey to becoming Black for Somali refugees forced to flee their non-racialized homeland of Somalia. The findings suggested that Somali participants responded to racism and discrimination by utilizing both passive and active negotiation strategies. Knowledge about what was true, who they were, and where they belonged seemed to help participants cope with oppression experienced because of their intersecting minority statuses. This study served to expand limited research on the racial identity development and racialization experiences of contemporary Somali refugees in the Midwest. Future research is needed to expand Black racial identity models and to explore the gendered aspects of racial identity development in relation to Somali youth.