Telling the lion’s story : developing a measure of Black consciousness
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This study introduces cultural knowledge as a central element to conceptualizing and measuring Black consciousness beliefs. Through the development and initial validation of a new measure, the Scale of Black Consciousness (SBC), the structural nature of Black consciousness as a function of cultural knowledge was determined using exploratory factor analyses. Relations between Black consciousness, self-esteem, cultural socialization and knowledge, African cultural consciousness, group-based racial identity, and impression management were also assessed to determine validity evidence for the SBC. Further, known-groups validity was determined by examining SBC score means between participants who endorsed taking Black Studies courses as compared to participants who did not endorse taking such courses. This study also provided an analysis of sources of cultural knowledge among participants. Previous research provides support for the relationship between Black consciousness and cultural knowledge. The Africentric Theory of Black Personality theoretically highlights the value of culture-centered knowledge (Baldwin, 1981, 1984; Baldwin & Bell, 1985) and the group-based theory of stratum consciousness (Gurin & Epps, 1975; Gurin, Miller, & Gurin, 1980) provides a model for examining group consciousness among historically marginalized groups. Accordingly, cultural knowledge supports the development of Black consciousness through an awareness of and connection to African descent cultural history (King, 2004; Lewis et al., 2006; Shockley, 2007). Despite theory suggesting a conceptual link between cultural knowledge and Black consciousness (Adams, 2005; Banks, 2004; King, 2004), there is limited research examining cultural knowledge in relation to Black consciousness beliefs. Results revealed the SBC as a reliable and valid measure of Black consciousness. For construct and predictive validity, the SBC exhibited significant correlations in the expected directions with African cultural consciousness, group-based Black identity, self-esteem, cultural socialization, Black history knowledge, and impression management. A comparison of SBC score means demonstrated that participants taking Black Studies courses exhibited higher consciousness beliefs as measured by the SBC than participants not taking Black Studies courses, providing evidence for known-groups validity. Additionally, the results for sources of cultural learning, revealed parents and teachers/professors as the most frequently cited sources. These findings further the literature on cultural consciousness among African descent people.