The black immigrant population in New York City has grown exponentially since 1990, such that West Indians now compose the majority of the black population in several neighbourhoods. This article examines how this ethnic density manifests among youth in high school, and how it has influenced ethnic identity formation among second-generation West Indians. My findings are based on twenty-four interviews and eight months of participant observation in two Brooklyn high schools from 2003 to 2004. The results show that in both schools, Caribbean island identities have become a ‘cool’ commodity within peer groups. Further, although it was important to express pride in one's island identity, these young people often blurred their national origin boundaries by drawing on Jamaican popular culture as way of projecting a unified ‘West Indian identity’. The research also uncovers evidence of a de-stigmatization of Haitianness as a way to incorporate them as cultural insiders into the larger Caribbean collective.

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Post-print Article

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Copyright © 2014 Taylor & Francis Group.

DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2012.748212

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Full Citation:

Richards, Bedelia Nicola. "Ethnic Identity on Display: West Indian Youth and the Creation of Ethnic Boundaries in High School." Ethnic and Racial Studies 37, no. 6 (2013): 978-97. doi:10.1080/01419870.2012.748212.