“Oppositional Identity,” (O.I.), a theory suggested by both Signithi Fordham and John Ogbu, about the behavior of young African Americans (or other minority groups), who create an identity that is counter to the mainstream identity. According to Beverly Daniel (1997) in the book; Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria?, this O.I. is the result of the “anger and resentment adolescents feel in response to their growing awareness of the systematic exclusion of Black people from full participation in U.S. society leads to the development of an oppositional social identity” (60). This O.I. is a powerful social identity that conveys the message that it is not ok to be Black and intelligent because that means you are “White” and not “Black,” which has often led to the social sanctions of being ridiculed and even ostracized. The theory suggests that these adolescents will shirk their scholastic responsibilities and academic achievements, and act antithetical of the dominant culture. One of the major characteristics of this theory is that those in the minority group who have formed this O.I., will internalize the negative stereotypes held by the majority group, which for African Americans also implies being unsuccessful, confrontational and even criminal.
We need more role models to step forward and to shatter these false preconceptions because:
Minority women, men and adolescents are intelligent and do deserve to attend universities
Minorities have been, are, and will continue to be successful at whatever we set our minds to; not just sports and music, but as doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, beauticians, astronauts, presidents, CEO’s, parents, etc…
It is cool to be a nerd and to love to read and learn; as a rap artist that is how I spend much of my free time.
Just to be clear: RAPPERS = NERDS and most rappers are pretty Fresh!