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Caribbean Journal of Education

Uu Fieva Mi, Uu Taak Laik Mi Exploring Race, Language and Self-concept in Jamaican Primary School Children

Publication Date: 
September 2007

The current study explores the racial and linguistic self-concept of 138 children between the ages of 5 and 10 years, enrolled in a poor, urban, Jamaican government school. In Jamaica, studies into the racial self-concept of adults have been conducted since as early as 1952 (Kerr); however no study into the development of racial and linguistic self-concept in Jamaican children has yet been documented. This study is quantitative, the data were collected through individual, face-to-face interviews in which children of grades 1-4 were asked to select the photographs from the Racial Identity Instrument (RII) which they felt "looks like you" or “fieva yu”. Matched Guise Tests using two language guises (Jamaican and English) were also conducted. The children were asked to indicate (1) “who said that?" "uu se dat'' after listening to each guise. Finally the children's racial identity responses were checked against those of a panel of independent adult judges. Frequencies for responses were analysed and chi square tests were also carried out to determine whether results were statistically significant. The results showed that children in the school community identified six racial categories of their own and that the majority of children in the target sample self-identified racially with dark-brown Jamaicans, identified African/Black Jamaicans as speakers of the Jamaican language and themselves as speaking like African/Black Jamaicans. Additionally, the independent judges identified the majority of the target sample as dark-brown Jamaican racially.

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