PDF_Akom_SocyEd_Re-examining resistance

Published in: Sociology of Education

Full Title: Reexamining Resistance as Oppositional Behavior: The Nation of Islam and the Creation of a Black Achievement Ideology.

Influential work on oppositional culture explains involuntary minorities’ disadvantage as the result of a culture that discourages academic effort by branding it as “acting white,” which leads students to resist schooling. Much of this work depicts involuntary minority cultures as internally uniform. This article challenges the oppositional-culture explanation in three important ways: (1) by demonstrating that through the religious tenets and practices of the Nation of Islam (NOI), young female members develop a black achievement ideology, resulting in the adoption of the kind of studious orientation to school that is usually demonstrated by voluntary immigrant groups; (2) by demonstrating the ways in which black people differentially make sense of and enact what it means to be black that challenge previous binary or dichotomized accounts of black oppositional social identity; and (3) by illustrating how resistance for NOI young women is transformative, as well as reproductive, of existing patterns of social, racial, and gender relations. The evidence, from a two-year ethnographic study of female high school students who were in the NOI suggests a systematic reexamination of the oppositional theory and its main suppositions.