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From Student Development in College, pp.255-260 & ASHE Reader pp. 231-268.

Cross's theory of psychological nigrescence

Well-known black identity development model.


"process of becoming black"

3 central concepts:

Personal Identity (PI), Reference Group Orientation (RGO), & Race Salience

Nigrescense Patterns

A: individual develops black identity as result of interaction with parents and significant others from birth to adulthood.
B: conversion experience. Individual has not been socialized towards blackness or formed healthy black identity
C: Will occur whether individual has gone through pattern A or B. Nigrescence recycling - expansion or modification of black identity throughout adulthood.


Person identifies with white people and culture, rejects relationship to black culture


Person rejects identification with whites, seeks identification with blacks

Low Racial Salience

place no significance on being black except that physical features make them black.

High Racial Salience

View black culture as an important part of self-concept.

Internalized Racism

adopt negative ideas or stereotypes which can lead to self hatred.


Complete identification with blacks, hatred & anger towards whites


incorporation of positive black identity, transcends psychological effects of racism


Maintains black identity & resists various forms of societal oppression.

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