Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Pan-African Studies

Degree Program

Pan-African Studies, MA

Committee Chair

Jones, Ricky L.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Byrd, W. Carson

Committee Member

Best, Latrica

Committee Member

Sanders, Scott


African American students--Race identity; Social media--Psychological aspects; African American students--Psychology


The rise of Black Twitter as an online cultural phenomenon has garnered attention as a force in the African American community. The online social network is a space for cultural performance, discussion, and debate. Generally, social media has created spaces for online communities to congregate around shared experiences and interests. African American users of popular social media such as blogs, Facebook, and the aforementioned Twitter have used the affordances of these platforms as tools to convey and construct their racial identities. The performance of racial identity offline is often carried over to these online environments, and arguably vice versa. When African American users come into contact with other African Americans they are able to reaffirm or renegotiate their identity, which they may carry with them back to offline environments. One such offline environment where African American identity is challenged is within the educational system. The purpose of this thesis is to deconstruct the anti-intellectualism narrative toward African American students embodied by oppositional culture perspectives, and show how secure racial identities can potentially lead to positive educational outcomes through social media platform affordances. I propose a model of online racial identity construction using social identity theory (Tajfel, 1981) and Cross’ (1991) model of Nigrescence accompanied by a pedagogical guide that shows how social networking sites can have educational benefits for African American students.